Much like last summer’s murder of a one-year-old infant in Brooklyn, the shooting death of a 10-year-old boy in Queens on Saturday night set off a new wave of public outrage over gun violence in the five boroughs.
Justin Wallace, 10, was gunned down outside a home on Beach 45th Street in Edgemere, Queens after a gunman ambushed him and his 29-year-old uncle at about 9:33 p.m. on June 5. Wallace took a gunshot to his torso and later died at St. John’s Episcopal Hospital; his uncle is now recovering from a bullet wound to his shoulder at Jamaica Hospital.
The heinous nature of the attack left Mayor Bill de Blasio crestfallen, and angered the army of candidates seeking to replace the mayor in the upcoming June 22 Democratic primary.
De Blasio took to Twitter to express remorse for Wallace’s death, and to squarely place the blame at the feet of the child’s killer.
“Justin Wallace should be alive right now. He’s dead because of a coward’s act,” de Blasio said. “It’s a profound injustice. His killer will be brought to justice.”
Justin Wallace should be alive right now. He’s dead because of a coward’s act. He had his entire life ahead of him. It’s a profound injustice. His killer will be brought to justice.
To his family: your city shares your anger, it shares your sadness. We mourn with you. https://t.co/ZeOmTJM4H9
— Mayor Bill de Blasio (@NYCMayor) June 6, 2021
But a number of the mayoral candidates had a different take: the time had come for the city to do more to stop gun violence across the city.
“Our babies are dying in the streets. All NYers should be outraged,” said Brooklyn Borough President Eric Adams. “Police must work with the community to catch the killer. It is time for action & resources so we can have safety & justice.”
Two young children shot today. Pray for their families. Our babies are dying in our streets. All NYers should be outraged. Police must work with the community to catch the killer. It is time for action & resources so we can have safety & justice. https://t.co/76kLpYncUX
— Eric Adams (@ericadamsfornyc) June 6, 2021
Former Sanitation Commissioner Kathryn Garcia suggested that “there’s something broken in our political system when public safety has become more about ideology than about following the data and solving the problem.”
“Gun violence is taking place in the New York City communities where our political leaders often don’t go, in the places they don’t see,” she said. “I demand that the de Blasio administration focus on preventing gun violence as we head into the summer. All New Yorkers deserve to enjoy this summer of new opportunity after the year we’ve had, but they cannot do so if our city is not safe.”
Entrepreneur Andrew Yang offered a short statement on Twitter expressing condolences to Wallace’s family, while adding, “We must end the gun violence in our city and keep our families and our children safe.” Former Citicorp executive Ray McGuire tweeted “it’s time to move past the outrage and rhetoric. We need action now.”
Civil rights attorney Maya Wiley, on the other hand, said that the pandemic of gun violence requires solutions more robust than boosting law enforcement. She also criticized the NYPD for their response to enforcing a curfew at Washington Square Park on Saturday night, which resulted in clashes between officers and parkgoers and led to 22 arrests.
“We cannot let the pandemic of gun violence continue to rob our children of their futures! We need action to address the root of violence and save lives,” Wiley wrote. “A 10-year-old was shot and killed last night in The Rockaways. The NYPD couldn’t protect him, but they could march through a park in riot gear, terrorizing people to enforce an arbitrary curfew.”
A ten-year-old was shot and killed last night in The Rockaways. The NYPD couldn’t protect him, but they could march through a park in riot gear, terrorizing people to enforce an arbitrary curfew. We need change. I’ll be sharing my vision for change at 2pm today @ Broad & Wall St.
— Maya Wiley (@mayawiley) June 6, 2021
10 years old. 10. To Justin’s loved ones and all who’ve lost a loved one to gun violence, you are on my heart.
We cannot let the pandemic of gun violence continue to rob our children of their futures! We need action to address the root of violence and save lives. https://t.co/7uXfmFotZv
— Maya Wiley (@mayawiley) June 6, 2021