Justin Wallace (305312)
Credit: Photo released by family

“It was horrible,” said Mayor Bill de Blasio in his daily morning briefing on Monday, June 7. “A 10-year-old child should be alive today, should be in school right now. Killed by a cowardly, horrible human being who fired gunshots just randomly into a home.”

De Blasio said he sat with the family of young Wallace, likening it to the same utter strife 1-year-old Davell Gardner’s family experienced after their child was slain last July in Brooklyn.

In the case of young Gardner, police announced in May that his alleged shooters were believed to be two men already facing murder, conspiracy and weapons charges in connection to a violent local gang feud between members of the Hoolies and 900 gang in Bedford-Stuyvesant.

There are no current arrests and the investigation remains ongoing in the shooting of Wallace, said DCPI Spokesperson Sergeant Jessica McRorie. The police did not confirm if the suspected shooter is assumed to be on parole or connected to gang activity.

De Blasio said that the spiking trend of gun violence is “unacceptable” and implored help from the state and federal government. He also called for stronger policing and community-based solutions to cracking down on guns flowing into the city, gang activity, and recidivism.

He said gun arrests are generally up by 28% from 2020, but the flow of guns into the city has been a long-standing issue and the “sad reality” is that state parolees don’t get enough help when they get out and are statistically more likely to be shooting suspects. He didn’t mention a specific study for the statistic.

In the briefing, Assemblymember Kenny Burgos (D-85, Bronx) said, “It’s a tragedy and [gun] violence affects everyone, no matter what zip code you live in and it’s something that everyone worries about.”

Burgos, who chairs the state subcommittee on reentry for parolees, said that he believes curing the gun violence problem “at the root” means addressing services for parolees, poverty, housing insecurity, and a lack of mental health treatment in the community.

“My focus is on creating a system that focuses on rehabilitation and not punishment,” said Burgos. “When we change our system to not put a scarlet letter on individuals released back into society, we can help them on the path.”

Assemblymember Maritza Davila (D-53, Brooklyn), also tuned into the briefing, said that on the state level they are introducing Bill A8022. The bill states that more comprehensive services will be provided for formerly incarcerated persons after their discharge or release so they can integrate back into the community.

De Blasio added that the city needed laws, like controversial bail reform implemented at the onset of 2020, but now the focus is on the parole bill as a way to combat gun violence and crime.

“Washington has the opportunity to act, we need them. We need the state of New York as well,” said de Blasio. “In conversations with members of the legislature we’ve found a lot of common ground on a crucial issue, the issue of parole. This is an area where real change can happen quickly.”

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