Residents, Officials Demand End to Gun Violence in Bed-Stuy

Herbert Von King Park in Bed-Stuy where a father and his two-year-old son where shot on Jan. 10. (Photo by Ken Ficara)

An increasing number of shootings in Bed-Stuy has residents of the central Brooklyn neighborhood in distress, reports the Amsterdam News. One person died and three, including a 2-year-old boy, were injured in three different incidents over two days.  The story says some “wayward youngsters” in the area know just one way of settling their disputes – through gun violence.

Zuadir Simon is 2 years old. His birthday was on Thursday, Jan. 10. On that day, he was playing in the always active Herbert Von King Park with his father, Lorenzo Simon, 38. After reportedly shouting, “That’s him!” some bright spark took a shot at Lorenzo Simon. When officers from the 79th Precinct arrived at Von King Cultural Center, they found the father with a gunshot wound to the right hand and Zuadir with gunshot wounds to both arms. Both victims were taken to Kings County Hospital and are expected to survive their wounds.

Police arrested a suspect soon after the incident. Jamal Ali, 19, was charged with two counts of attempted murder, assault and criminal possession of a weapon. Also on the night of January 10, Ivan Giovanettina, 41, was fatally shot on Macon Street after being robbed by two men.

A day earlier, on January 9, 90-year-old Gloria Johnson was shot in the arm when she was caught in a gunfight and was used as a human shield as she pushed her cart along the corner of Blaker Street and Miller in East New York.

Speaking with NBC’s John Noel, Johnson said of the shooter, “I haven’t got anything against him. I want him to realize what he has done. I want them to turn their life around and give God a chance in their life, and have love towards one another.”

The situation has evoked strong reaction from not just the residents but also the local political leadership. At a press conference on January 13, Councilman Al Vann, Assemblywoman Annette Robinson, Rep. Hakeem Jeffries and District Leader Robert Cornegy demanded an end to gun violence in the area.  A day earlier, local residents held a separate meeting in Herbert Von King Park to condemn the violence.

Local resident Malcolm Ford asked, “Have we become immune to the shootings? We used to rally when there were shootings. Have we in the community and our leaders become disaffected and unmoved? People used to run when they heard gunshots, now they don’t. Where is the real search for a solution? Who is really looking into the issue of mental health and all these shootings?”

As he surveyed the scene where Simon was shot, he continued, “In Newtown they were immediately helped. They rallied … got federal and state help, lots of funding and therapy —we don’t get that. Why not? Why aren’t we demanding this for our community? And why aren’t our elected officials more proactive and less reactionary every time someone gets shot?” 

On January 15, New York became the first state in the nation to push through stringent new gun control.

“In the light of the recent tragedies that have plagued the nation, we need to better protect the hard-working men and women of this state from senseless gun violence,” [State Sen. John] Sampson stated. “It is my hope that with the passage of this comprehensive legislative package that New York will be a safer and stronger state.”

Specifically, this legislative package includes expanding the assault weapon ban, strengthening license requirements and creating a statewide database that law enforcement will utilize to help keep New Yorkers safe.

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