Ripped yellow tape and detectives scouring city blocks for bullets and evidence greeted Brooklyn, Bronx and Queens residents on Monday, Dec. 13, 2021, as they went about their business.
Just as the Amsterdam News was writing this article about increasing gun violence in the city, we received a phone call from a reader of yet another fatal shooting in 73 Precinct Brownsville, Brooklyn. This as Mayor-elect Eric Adams announced his appointment of Nassau County Chief of Detectives Keechant Sewell as the next police commissioner of the New York City Police Department.
Early afternoon on Tuesday, Dec. 14, the NYPD confirmed that a male had been shot in the chest at Powell Street and East New York at 11:46 a.m.
The victim Terrence Higgins, 31, was taken to Interfaith Hospital Medical Center by EMS. A NYPD spokesperson said that the, “Unknown perpetrator fled on foot toward Sutter Ave. and is described as wearing a long green jacket and skull cap.” Higgins was pronounced dead at 12:05 p.m. There were no arrests by Amsterdam News press time.
Gunshots are echoing on the quietest––and the busiest of NYC streets.
“We need a ceasefire, a summit, and a sit-down with Mayor-elect Eric Adams,” said Danny Goodine, community activist, and occasional Amsterdam News photographer.
“We were giving out food at P.S 401 for the holidays,” said Goodine, the Brownsville-based activist. “There is a shelter nearby and many of the children are homeless. Then we heard the shots; three minutes after, police were everywhere. Then we saw the helicopter. I went around there, but by then they had taken the victim to the hospital where he died. There is just too much gun violence in the neighborhood. There was another fatal shooting two days ago.”
With more police caution tape, candle and chalk memorials, bullet holes, and blood-stained sidewalks, Goodine, the founder of Men Elevating Leadership—named for his murdered son, Shamel Blake Harper—continued, “It’s like the Wild Wild West. Anytime you can shoot in broad daylight, around a temporary housing facility and school, and with all these cameras, then there is a lawlessness that needs to be addressed immediately. I hope Mayor Eric Adams does all he can to get a grip in this city to help save some lives.”
Even in the wake of rampant shootings, stabbings, robberies, assaults, and subway violence, Mayor Bill de Blasio used his recent press conferences to push his new vaccine mandates on children 5- to 11-years-old, and employees in private businesses, and private schools.
In response to a request for a statement from Mayor-elect Eric Adams—a former police captain, state senator and 22-year-NYPD officer—his spokesman Evan Thies stated, “The mayor-elect’s No. 1 priority will be reducing violent crime and making New Yorkers safer. He will improve public safety by targeting illegal guns, cracking down on the gangs that are driving violent crime, and working with the communities that are suffering the most from crime to find the programs and investments they need to partner against violence and disorder.”
Current Mayor Bill de Blasio did not respond to the same request by press time.
The spokesperson for the NYPD’s Sergeant Edward Riley sent the Amsterdam News their record of shooting incidents on Dec. 12, 2020 and 2021. Their 24-hour recap for 12/12/20 showed five incidents with nine victims. A year to the day this week showed eight incidents and eight victims. In their year-to-date recap from last year to Dec. 12, 2020, there were 1,463 incidents and 1,792 victims. This year up until Dec. 12, 2021, there were 1,498 incidents and 1,795 victims.
Responding to the recent violence at Staten Island’s Susan E. Wagner High School, students walked out in protest this past Monday. And last week Central Family Life Center and Staten Island’s Crisis Management System team True 2 Life credible messengers went to Wagner HS to mediate conflicts, give out advice and information to help ensure “the safety of the students, teachers and nearby residents.”
In a statement they said, “We will have our Mobile Trauma Units on scene as a tool and safe space for parents and students to speak with our wellness and mental health professionals. With respect to all law enforcement and the phenomenal job they do at the high schools, we feel it is necessary for our approach of mediation and changing the culture in our schools to lead this type of response.”
They added that their “Crisis Management partners Man Up Inc., Community Capacity Development and others from across NYC” joined them in a show of much needed support.
Program Manager “Iron” Mike Perry said, “The violence happening in our schools across NYC has a direct connection with the pandemic and issues/conflicts that have made their way to social media during the lockdown. The issues/conflicts between the Staten Island neighborhoods have made their way to the high schools. It is our job to help our young brothers and sisters who are involved to understand what peace and norm change is. We will do that!”
Central Family Life Center Executive Director Dr. Demetrius Carolina added, “The work of this anti-violence movement is a team effort. As we attempt to be a collaborative force for proactive change, we encourage our entire Staten Island community and partners to join us in this effort.”
True 2 Life runs with the slogan, “We Risk our Lives to save Lives!” Perry told the Amsterdam News, “Violence is peaking just like in the other boroughs. Gun violence is directly tied to the conditions of the people.When you have that and put a pandemic on top of it you have a historical number of gun violence events. In 2018 we were the safest city on record in terms of gun violence. We broke records and violence was down in terms of shooting. It was the lowest it had been in NYC. Then you bring on the pandemic, and a year and a half later the numbers spike. We are still in the midst of the pandemic and things haven’t gotten better. The uncertainty has increased.”
Reflecting somberly, Perry said, “Less than two weeks ago Keondre Adams, a young man I see like my nephew, was shot and killed—I knew his father for 30 years. It was just street stuff, being 18. It was not gang-related. The root is poverty.”
The young man was shot dead inside What U Need Deli & Grill in New Brighton. At 5:23 p.m. on Tuesday, Dec. 14, Anthony Fonseca, 50, was arrested and charged with murder, manslaughter, and criminal possession of a weapon.
In a message for Mayor-elect Eric Adams, Perry said, “He has to look at infrastructure, employ those not usually employed. Our first ask is simply to double and triple the amount of anti-violence groups in the city. We have two or three cure violence groups in Staten Island, but we need more.We have six major neighborhoods on the Northshore plagued by gun violence. One group covers two areas which means four are grossly neglected. These groups have proven to work. Look at the numbers, you see the target area numbers are a lot less than areas that don’t have cure violence groups.
“We will need Mayor Eric Adams’ support. He has to put money and resources in the hands of those doing the work.”
Across the river and deep in Brooklyn A.T. Mitchell, executive director and founder of Man Up Inc., said, “The shootings that have been happening in Canarsie are another unfortunate circumstance that just confirms that gun violences in this city is out of control, and we need a comprehensive plan in order to address it. That includes all hands on deck. First and foremost led by the community. It’s an epidemic. We need to get all of our thinkers and the experts at the table so that we can come up with a comprehensive plan to effectively address it.”
Mitchell, a national trainer of Cure Violence Global concluded, “We have evidence based on data-driven solutions in the city that we need to utilize, and we need to ramp it up so that we can prevent the next occurrence from happening and save the next person’s life.”
Uptop pedestrians and underground riders are nervous no matter what time of day or night. Daylight shootings in areas such as Clinton Hill, Bed-Stuy, and West Harlem are examples of how daily violence keeps NYC residents alert and afraid for personal safety.
The list of recent cases of city violence read like a horror show.
- At 8 p.m. on Monday Dec. 13, 2021, Tyrek Townsend, 37, was found shot in the torso at 113 Ave. and Linden Boulevard; he was pronounced deceased at Jamaica Hospital. As of press time there were no arrests and the investigation is ongoing.
- Also on Monday a man arguing with another person was fatally stabbed inside a No. 2 train Bronx subway station early Monday, cops said.
- Meanwhile, on Sunday, Dec. 12, 2021 at approximately 3 a.m., police found a 31-year-old male shot in the torso in front of 8 Rockaway Ave., Brooklyn. He was pronounced dead at Brookdale University Hospital Medical Center. There were no arrests by press time.
- There have been two arrests and manslaughter charges of a 17- and 19-year-old in the Sunday, Oct. 24, 2021, gunshot murder of Saiko Koma, 21, of the Bronx.
- In Bed-Stuy, Brooklyn just after 2 a.m. on Saturday, Nov. 30, 2021, Lizseh Casserly, 32, was fatally stabbed in the chest and the neck, as reports say a homeless man objected as she and her male companion walked too close to his sidewalk tent.
- Cops just released a photo of a Mercedes Benz being sought in regard to a Saturday, Nov. 13, 2021 armed robbery of a gold chain by a group of men, from a 32-year-old victim. In a statement they said, “The victims attempted to flee and the unidentified individuals discharged firearms multiple times, striking the 32-year-old male in the torso and striking the 46-year-old male victim in the back. The unidentified individuals fled the scene northbound on Macombs Road in a black Mercedes-Benz sedan. The 32-year-old victim was transported by private means to Bronx Lebanon Hospital where he was pronounced deceased. EMS transported the 46-year-old male victim to Lincoln Hospital in stable condition.”
Neither pandemic nor holiday season tidings brings a ceasefire to violence in New York City. Cure Violence activists say to the contrary: they only seem to exacerbate it. From new community resources to fair police policy and tactics, New Yorkers say something has to give.
In the meantime the Legal Aid Society released a statement in response to the appointment by Mayor-elect Adams of Keechant Sewell as next commissioner of the New York City Police Department. “We welcome the appointment of a new NYPD commissioner who we hope will bring a new approach to the helm of an agency in dire need of top-to-bottom reforms.
“Policing in New York City remains fraught as ever. The next commissioner must demonstrate an understanding that many community problems do not warrant a law enforcement response; that police misconduct must be taken seriously and addressed swiftly; and that tackling some of our city’s most pressing public safety issues, especially gun violence, requires full funding for proven, community-based approaches, including the CURE Violence model, and not a knee-jerk resort to the failed, aggressive and racist approaches of the past. The commissioner must also immediately meet with community members to build real and meaningful pathways to input and accountability.”