One killed, 11 injured in Brownsville mass shooting, reversing neighborhood’s gun violence decline
It may be the most victims of a single mass shooting in New York City since at least 2013.
One person was shot and killed in Brownsville Saturday night and 11 others were injured — including one man who is “fighting for his life” — after two or more shooters opened fire during a massive block party.
The shooting had the most injuries of any shooting in the United States — 12 — since the May 31 Virginia Beach shooting, and may be the worst single incident of gun violence in the five boroughs since at least 2013. The attack immediately skyrocketed the number of gun violence victims in Brownsville’s 73 Precinct, which had been down so far in 2019.
At least two shooters opened fire just before 11 p.m. as the annual Brownsville Old-Timers Day block party, near Hegeman Avenue and Sackman Street, was winding down. The victims, seven men and five women, were between the ages of 21 and 55. The dead man’s name was not immediately released.
The shooting had the highest number of injuries of any New York City shooting in 2019, according to the Gun Violence Archives data. The organization’s data indicates it could be the worst mass shooting incident in New York City since tracking began in 2013, though their records may be incomplete. Police did not immediately respond to a request from the Eagle for historical data on shootings within the five boroughs that left more people injured.
Shooting victims in the 73rd Precinct were down 29 percent this year as of July 21, according to police statistics. But with Saturday’s 12 victims, that promising trend was reversed. While 22 people were shot in the precinct through July 21 in 2019, as opposed to 31 through the same time in 2018, Saturday’s shooting brought this year’s numbers up to at least 34 and will likely mean that shooting victims are up overall in the precinct.
New York City’s Police Commissioner James P. O’Neill said that the department is investigating whether or not Saturday night’s shooting was gang-related. No arrests have been made.
“If you look back historically at shootings, violence within Brooklyn North and specifically the 73rd Precinct, about half of them are gang, crew-related. So that’s a thing we are going to take a look at, definitely,” he said.
Brooklyn Borough President Eric Adams, Public Advocate Jumaane Williams and Congresswoman Yvette Clarke all called the event a mass shooting. Mayor Bill de Blasio declined to do so when asked by the Brooklyn Eagle Sunday at a press conference at the scene, saying “that phrase is usually reserved for a different type of situation.”
“Again we are waiting to understand exactly what happened. What we know here is that 12 people were struck,” the mayor said.
There is no clear-cut definition of “mass shooting,” though the New York Times has tabulated mass shootings in the United States by counting any shooting that injures or kills four or more people. They source the definition to the Gun Violence Archive, which already has Saturday’s Brownsville shooting listed. The Brownsville shooting had the most injuries of any shooting in the United States — 12 — since the May 31 Virginia Beach shooting, which killed 13 and injured five more, according to the Gun Violence Archive.
A definition of mass shooting by the Stanford Mass Shootings of America database is any shooting that injures or kills three or more people — but this definition specifies that the shooting cannot be “identifiably gang, drug or organized crime related.”
O’Neill also said that the NYPD is looking for two shooters and that police so far believe that two weapons were used in the shooting. One gun was recovered as well as other ballistic evidence, police said. The playground at the Brownsville Recreational Center was taped off and covered in trash Sunday morning as police from the Crime Scene Unit trawled the grounds looking for evidence.
Bill Blount, who works for Brownsville Think Tank Matters, a community service non-profit, was at the party with his 5-year-old daughter last night when the shots rang out. He said he heard the shots, and ran in the opposite direction of the gunfire.
“I heard about maybe 10. I picked my daughter up in my arms and I ran. I went home. Pandemonium. Pandemonium,” Blount told the Eagle.
Blount said he had gone to the annual Old Timers event for the last five years and it had always been a good, peaceful time. While he plans on attending again in the future, he will no longer bring his daughter.
“When we say #BlackLivesMatter, this is what we have to be talking about too,” Borough President Adams said in statement. “We must be vigilant and organized when any black life is put in danger or lost, whether the person behind the trigger is wearing a blue police uniform or just blue jeans. Public safety takes all of us, and we need real partnership on the ground.”