Yahisha Gomez wept uncontrollably and shrieked “My baby!” on May 18 as she pawed at the Bronx street memorial set up for her 11-year-old daughter, Kyhara Tay, who was struck down by a reckless gunman’s stray bullet Monday.
Tay’s family joined elected officials at the memorial, set up where the girl was murdered, at the corner of 165th and Fox Streets in Foxhurst on May 18 demanding that the suspects responsible be brought to justice.
Flowers, balloons and messages of hope pay tribute to the girl, but these symbols of grief do little to quell the Bronx’s sorrow — and their rage. Tay had her fledgling life snuffed out when a drive-by shooter struck her instead of their presumed, intended target, the latest in a long line of incidents that has torn its way through the borough.
Attending elected officials such as Public Advocate Jumaane Williams and Bronx Borough President Vanessa Gibson encircled Tay’s grieving parents Wednesday, placing their hands on them in emotional reinforcement.
“If my daughter knew who did it, she would have said it, please have mercy for us, please! Don’t forget us please! Don’t forget our baby, please!” the little girl’s father, Sokpini Tay wailed in a heartbreaking plea for justice. “I am never going to touch or see her again, man! I am going to be living in pain the rest of my life! I want that person to suffer in pain!”
With tears and sorrow so thick in the air it seemed to weigh heavy on the community themselves, those who shouldered the burden of support rallied around the demand for justice. The NYPD is offering a $10,000 reward for information leading to the gunman’s arrest, something the community and their representatives are charging behind.
“This is outrageous. We are pissed off. We are pissed off,” Gibson said. “This is a call to action to everyone. Kyhara is our child. She was our child. She belonged to us, to this community, and the actions of these cowards have taken her away from us.”
However, some locals are wondering what exactly will change in the wake of this senseless killing.
Sidney Flores, who describes himself as a community advocate spent the morning sweeping debris from around the makeshift shrine. He believes dramatic action needs to be taken in order to quell the violence.
“I am sick of hearing enough is enough, what we need is boots on the ground,” Flores told amNewYork Metro, believing that bail reform is a contributing factor. “Bail reform has hurt the working poor, the middle class, it hurts everyone. They [elected officials] are in denial.”
Public Advocate Williams disagrees. Bringing his own baby to the vigil, he expressed his heartbreak on the unimaginable pain Tay’s family is undergoing.
“I have no words for these parents. I can’t imagine being an 11-year-old and a bullet ripped through your stomach, or walking with an 11-year old and watching the bullet ripped through their stomach. And she’s no longer here. I, like everybody else, am tired. All across the state, all across the city, we have the stories repeated over and over,” Williams said. “I too am worried, my 13 year old is in school now. I’m raising my daughter here with my wife. The only thing I can say is New York City should be leading the nation here. Can we stop pretending that some of us care about gun violence more than others? We all care about gun violence. We all want these stories to stop.”
Williams called for a coordination of all services to be directed toward communities that have been marginalized for decades. While noting that $11 billion has been allocated for mental health service, he asked why physical health services, schools, and anti-violence programs have not received proper funding.
“I know what some folks are saying, bail is not the issue causing this gun violence. Please stop. You are wasting people’s time. Anything but a full coordinated effort in this communities is just rhetoric while people are dying,” Williams said. “Let us show the world how to coordinate services to Black and Brown communities and let us stop lying to these parents about what we’re doing and not doing because I can’t imagine the horror that these parents are going through, and we are tired.”