As police efforts to apprehend those responsible for shooting 12 people — one fatally — in Brownsville Saturday night intensified, the community’s calls for peace and an end to gun violence swelled.
As of Sunday evening, police were still searching for two suspects they say opened fire on the Brownsville Old Timers Reunion Night show, a popular annual summer block party, around 11 p.m. Saturday at a playground near Christopher and Hegeman avenues. The gunshots injured 11 people and killed a 38-year-old man, identified on Monday as Jason Pagan, who was one of the nearly 2,000 revelers in attendance.
One of the wounded men was listed in critical condition and “fighting for his life,” according to NYPD Borough Brooklyn North Assistant Chief Jeffrey Maddrey. Of those shot, seven were men and five were women, ranging in age from 21 to 55 years old, Maddrey said.
Officers scoured the park for evidence and clues over the subsequent 24 hours and NYPD Patrol Borough Brooklyn North Deputy Chief Michael Kemper said there were no fewer than two shooters and two guns.
At a news conference Sunday morning, Mayor Bill de Blasio and Police Commissioner James O’Neill reassured the public that they will find justice.
“We will find the suspects involved, they will be held responsible — I don’t have a doubt in my mind,” he said.
O’Neill said one gun was found at the playground and they were still searching for clues. He and other investigators stressed that anyone who was at the party who witnessed the shooting, and if they took any pictures or videos, should contact the CrimeStoppers hotline at 800-577-TIPS or online at crimestoppers.nypdonline.org.
Brownsville’s Old Timer’s Reunion Night has been held annually on the final weekend of July since 1963. The two-day block party that celebrates the community with live music and dancing and has gone on without incident until now, according to Maddrey.
De Blasio stressed that the violence seen on Saturday night would not deter the community’s spirit or the work it’s done over the years to combat violence.
“I want to make really clear, this tragedy does not define Brownsville, does not define the people of Brownsville, does not define what’s happening on the ground in a community that has worked so hard and come so far,” he said.
The mayor and other elected officials denounced gun violence and called for more gun control.
City Councilwoman Alicka Ampry-Samuel tweeted Saturday night that the shooting was “one of the worst experiences of her life. How does such a beautiful and peaceful event become overshadowed by tragedy in seconds? We have to do more.”
Public Advocate Jumaane Williams issued a statement about the shooting, saying that the “plague of gun violence that infects our city and our nation is devastating and pervasive.”
“Our country experiences a mass shooting nearly every day, although it doesn’t always make the headlines,” he wrote. “And the acts of gun violence occurring daily on the streets are themselves one continuous mass shooting.”
U.S. Rep. Yvette D. Clarke (D-Brooklyn) called on the Senate to pass the Backgrounds Checks Bill that already was approved in the House.
“These 12 victims are someone’s brother, father, uncle, son, sister, mother, aunt, someone’s daughter. I pray for these victims and their families,” she said in a statement.
The Sergeants Benevolent Association circulated an email in response to the incident that blamed department leadership for handcuffing officer response and called for O’Neill’s removal.
“NYC is slowly crumbling. Don’t say you weren’t warned,” the memo read.
The latest NYPD crime statistics for the 73rd Precinct, which includes Brownsville, however, show the area has seen a drop in reported crimes over the years, particularly shootings. As of July 21, there were 16 reported shooting incidents in the precinct this year, compared to 22 in the same period in 2018 and 55 in the same period in 2010.
There were only six reported homicides reported this year as of July 21, compared to 10 in the same period last year, and 15 in 2010, according to police stats.