“Because it is a mass shooting, it now demands mass resources to Brownsville,” said A.T. Mitchell, co-organizer of the Brownsville Rapid Response Coalition.

The Brownsville, Brooklyn community is reeling from a shooting over the weekend that left one person dead and 11 people injured at the annual “Old Timers Day” block party. Activists and elected officials are searching for solutions to stop the violence.

Mitchell, who is also the executive director of Man Up Inc., (the Cure Violence initiative), told the Amsterdam News, “This act of violence was pure stupidity, pure ignorance when it relates to the Old Timers Day. This historic annual celebration is over 50 years old. No one thought that anyone was going to violate this sacred community event.”

Reports indicate the shooting occurred Saturday at 11 p.m. at the playground of the Brownsville Recreation Center on Linden Boulevard. The festival, which brought out around 2,000 people, was over and people were leaving when shots rang out.

The NYPD press office told the Amsterdam News, “On Saturday, July 27, 2019, at approximately 22:52 hours, police responded to a pick up of several people shot inside of the Brownsville Playground, located at Hegeman Avenue and Christopher Avenue, within the confines of the 73 Precinct. Officers discovered…12 victims…EMS transported all 12 victims to area hospitals. [Jason Pagan] 38 year-old male was removed to Brookdale Hospital where he was pronounced deceased. There are no arrests and the investigation is ongoing.”

Assistant Chief Jeffrey Maddrey said at the news conference, “Just to talk a little bit about Brownsville’s Old Timers Weekend which happens the last weekend of July every year. It’s an annual event. It’s an event that celebrates this community. It celebrates the people who live here in Brownsville, people who lived here and left and want to come back and reconnect with friends and rebuild relationships and it really celebrates the values of this community. During the event every year, the first night of which is on Friday, there’s a stage erected out on Linden Boulevard. You have performers, performers who usually have catalogues of music, hit records, who will come out and perform and entertain the community. You will see the people in the community dancing and enjoying the music and having a great time. The second day which [inaudible] which is Saturday. The event occurs on the Hegeman side of the Brownsville Recreational Center, again a stage is erected, you have local performers, local talent will come and show what they are doing. And again they entertain the community and the community has the opportunity to dance and enjoy themselves and rebuild and reconnect with relationships that they have created through the years.

“The first night we had approximately 5,000 people out here who celebrated and we had no issues. The second night we—the event went off, people were partying and having a good time and again celebrating. And as we got to the close of the event, a few minutes before 11 o’clock, inside the park area, the playground area of the Brownsville Recreational Center, that’s where the gunshots began. The shots were fired, we had 12 people struck. Out of the 12 that were struck, seven were males, five were females. Their ages were from 21 to 55 years old.”

Included among the injuries, police say there was: 41-year-old female with a gunshot wound to the side of the head, and 44-, 27- and 55-year-old males with a gunshot wound to the torso, 25- year-old female with a gunshot wound to the wrist, 30-year-old male with a gunshot wound to the torso, arm and wrist, 35-year-old female with a gunshot wound to the torso.39-year-old female with a gunshot wound to the hand.

“I feel disappointment,” Council Member Alicka Ampry-Samuel told the Amsterdam News. “We are working so hard to change the narrative of Brownsville and the Old Timers Day is one of most positive events in that community. We have had it for 56 years, since 2012 we’ve blocked off the street.

“This does not define us. The concert was over, the speakers were disconnected, the young people came out and started sweeping the street. People were saying we’ll see you here next year, they were hugging, showing community love.

“We sang ‘Family Reunion’ by the O’Jays, that’s how we close…and then we heard firecrackers that were gun shots.

“We’ve never had any shootings at this event. This is really abnormal. With so many people out somebody must have seen something.”

By way of solution Ampry-Samuel stated, “We need more resources, but the mayor said he is not going to designate it as a mass shooting because of the dynamics of the case.

“If it was called a mass shooting, mass resources come with that; for the trauma, lost wages, emergency housing, child care. But, because it was our community it was not designated as a mass shooting. Twelve people were shot. It was not a war with two gangs. These were hard-working, regular people who got shot. But more resources means better housing, more opportunities for our young when the new developments come up. We want more educational opportunities so our young people to travel to see more than their four-block radius. We have to look at our community as a whole, creating entrepreneurs, more home ownership, enhancing our parks, and our green spaces to take a mindful minute.”

The 41st council district, Brownsville, Brooklyn representative said incredulously, “twelve people shot it is a mass shooting. In California just a few days later three people were killed and a dozen were injured…it was immediately called a mass shooting.”

The day after the shooting occurred, during a press conference in Brownsville, Mayor Bill de Blasio said, “We are waiting to understand exactly what happened. What we know here is that 12 people were struck. I am only going to say that that phrase is usually reserved for a different type of situation than what I know this to be so far. But let’s get the investigation to go forward and then we can define yet.”

In response to an AmNews question about designating the incident as a mass shooting de Blasio said wednesday, “The tragic events of Saturday night led to one dead and 11 others injured. Right after, we heard real worry in the community about letting this violence define the neighborhood. That remains true, but I’ve also come to realize it’s critical we call this what it was: a mass shooting. The suffering of men and women in Brownsville has just as much meaning as people shot in any other community across this country. Language matters and I’ll use my voice to make sure our culture is putting the same value on human life lost to gun violence, no matter

the circumstances.”

“Poverty breeds violence,” Assemblyman Charles Barron declared in the wake of the Brownsville shooting.

“We don’t create poverty, but too many in our community are the victims of it. We need a Marshall Plan to rebuild the inner city. We need a multimillion dollar anti violence program. We don’t need more cops; there were over a hundred officers out there. We need more funding for anti-violence groups like Man Up and LifeCamp, who have boots on the ground, actually do the work, and are going to be there when the cameras and opportunists


The Old Timers Day event has been a summer staple to the Brownsville neighborhood for 56 years. The two-day event brings out thousands of current and former Brownsville residents for food, performances and dancing.

“Everyone partying, hanging and then a bunch of kids came from Rockaway Avenue, down Hegeman Avenue, and then started shooting and then ran off,” witness Robert Marks said in one report. “The cops didn’t catch anyone—they were very unorganized—they didn’t know where to go or what to do. Old Timers Day is a celebration of people who got to retire and they come out to enjoy—this celebration happens every year, and nothing ever happens like this.”

Police say two people opened fire at the event and are offering a $10,000 reward for information. No suspects have been arrested, however, NYPD Commissioner James P. O’Neill said the shooting could be gang related.

“It’s been a time for family and friends of the Brownsville neighborhood to come together and celebrate years of friendship and community,” NYC Parks and Recreation representative Crystal Howard said. “We are saddened by this senseless act of violence, and offer our deepest condolences and concern to the family of the deceased and for

those injured.”

Earlier this month, the NYPD reported that murders in the city have reached an all-time low, however, shootings are on

the rise.

In May, the NYPD launched its “Summer All-Out” program deploying hundreds of officers to high crime areas. The program is in its fifth year.

Brooklyn Congresswoman Yvette D. Clarke said she was, “Heartbroken that our community is faced with another tragedy, a mass shooting at what was supposed to be a fun, summertime neighborhood block party with neighbors, friends and family. Two people ruined that last night, taking away the peace of 12 victims who were shot, including one person who has been confirmed murdered… I pray for healing. I pray that my colleagues in Washington will finally put politics aside to enact common sense gun violence-prevention legislation, so going forward no person will be fearful to attend community events, like [the] Old Timers Day block party in Brownsville.” 

Public Advocate Jumaane Williams decried, “The plague of gun violence that infects our city and our nation is devastating and pervasive. Our country experiences a mass shooting nearly every day, although it doesn’t always make the headlines. And the acts of gun violence occurring daily on the streets are themselves one continuous mass shooting.

Every act of violence is a tragedy, each loss heartbreaking. We cannot become numb to that pain or to the incidents that cause it, we must meet each with strength, resolve, and action toward preventing the next. These shootings may be frequent, but they can never

be normal.”