On an almost tropically hot Saturday, July 6, death visited a neighborhood basketball game at Marcy Houses in Bed-Stuy, Brooklyn. At approximately 6:30 p.m., while watching the game, 18-year-old Mario Lopez was shot and killed. Three other teens were also injured by flying bullets.
Lopez, who resided in the nearby Bushwick Houses, had simply stopped by Marcy Houses to watch the basketball tournament. “Now his parents, Mr. and Mrs. Lopez, have to prepare to bury their child,” said the Rev. Taharka Robinson of the Brooklyn Anti-Violence Coalition.
This Fourth of July holiday weekend saw the three other victims of the incidents—who were 13, 14 and 15 years old—recovering from their gun shot wounds.
But that wasn’t the end of the holiday shootings. On July 4, a few miles away in East New York, Officer Jamil Sarwar got shot in the leg outside 365 Fountain Ave. while he was patroling the Cypress Hills housing complex. Reportedly, Sarwar was running after a shooting suspect when he caught a bullet in his right thigh.
Police Commissioner Ray Kelly said that after the initial rooftop shooting, Sawar and his partner went “into 365 Fountain to take cover. When they’re inside, they realize that Officer Sarwar has been shot in the right thigh. We do a search of the building. We find some shell casings on the roof.”
The 75th Precinct officer got out of Jamaica Hospital the very next day.
How the proliferation of illegal handguns continues to permeate the inner city has the Black community up in arms—literally.
Yet, according to Paul J. Browne, NYPD deputy commissioner for public information, gun shootings were down from the same period last year—including the July 4 weekend for both years. “July 1 through July 7, 2012: 62 shooting incidents, which produced 80 shooting victims. July 1 through July 7, 2013: 38 shooting incidents, which produced 62 shooting victims,” said Browne.
Still, way too many community activists proclaim urban area gun violence holds communities hostage to the whims and bad aim of perpetrators with ill-intent or a perceived conflict.
“See, there are all these shootings going on in the neighborhood. That’s that Coney Island shipment kicking in,” said a young Brooklynite who wanted to remain anonymous. He told the AmNews that he too had heard the rumor that a large cache of guns had come into Brooklyn through Coney Island.
The last weekend of May saw 24 people shot. Six people died.
The Amsterdam News contacted the mayor’s office and the Police Department to inquire about the rumor that a shipment of guns had come into the city. Neither office responded to the request for confirmation and clarity.
“We will know if it is true or not in the next couple of weeks if the murder rate goes up,” remarked Chris Foye in June. Foye, founder of the Chris S. Owens Foundation, is the father of Chris S. Owens, a 13-year-old boy who was murdered in a crossfire during a Harlem barbecue in 2009.
The NYPD says that their stats show a 23 percent decrease this year in the number of gun-related crimes compared to 2012.
On Tuesday, July 7, Robinson held a vigil in front of 472 Marcy Ave. He was joined by members of the Lopez family, the Marcy Houses Tenants Association and community residents as he conducted a peace and prayer rally “to renounce the senseless violence in the community.”
Mayor Michael Bloomberg bemoaned the fact that Sarwar brings the number of officers shot in the line of duty this year to six.
“When a young police officer is shot while on routine patrol on the Fourth of July, there is no clearer message that we need to continue to do everything we can to get guns off our streets,” Bloomberg said in a statement.
Just before Tuesday night’s vigil at the Marcy Houses, Robinson said, “We as a community must come together to develop a solution to deal with this issue of violence. When our children can be shot in broad daylight while trying to enjoy the summer, there is a serious problem. This issue of violence in our communities must be placed on every legislative agenda, from the city to the state to the federal. With the citywide municipal elections approaching, every candidate running for mayor, public advocate, district attorney borough president and City Council should make anti-violence a priority on their agenda.”