A 62-year-old Brooklyn church caretaker was one of two people shot dead between Monday afternoon and Tuesday morning in the latest round of citywide gunfire that left seven others injured.
Police officials say there have been 1,004 shootings in the city so far this year, an 88% increase over the year before.
In the latest homicide, officers from the 81st Precinct say that just after 5 p.m., Edward James, 62, of Jefferson Street in Bedford Stuyvesant, was apparently chased by an unidentified man into Glorious Church of God in Christ on Halsey Street where he was shot once in the back.
James was rushed to Kings County Hospital, where he was pronounced dead on arrival.
James, the caretaker at the church, was known in the neighborhood as “Swayne,” and was known for helping people in the neighborhood with handyman repair work and assisting the elderly. He was then recognized as doting on the church and keeping it immaculate for its parishioners – especially during the COVID-19 pandemic.
The assailant is believed to be a man in his 30s who fled on foot after firing one shot, police sources said. Police did not provide a possible motive for the murder.
James was said to have a family and children, and was popular on the block. Members of the church, who took him in years ago after he became homeless, were visibly shaken by the shooting within the church, some were outside crying over the loss.
“He was an icon of the church,” said Ronald Stewart, 72, a deacon in the church. “He was a good man, he never looked for any trouble.”
Deacon Ronald Porter said James was dedicated to the church and it was made even worse that the homicide occurred inside the sanctuary.
“America, we need to wake up and stop the division and put the guns down,” Porter said. “Bed-Stuy needs to put the guns down. There is more to life than stealing another life.”
The second homicide occurred at 1:45 a.m. Tuesday morning, when a 29-year-old man was found sitting in a 2019 Volkswagen at the corner of Prospect Avenue and Elsmere Place in the Bronx with multiple gunshot wounds to the chest.
The victim was rushed by EMS to St. Barnabas Hospital where he was dead on arrival.
Police had no further information on this shooting.
The latest shootings come as city advocates came together yesterday to honor the memory of Pop Smoke, where a mural was unveiled in the murdered rapper’s honor in Canarsie, Brooklyn. Terrence Floyd, brother of George Floyd, killed by a Minnesota police officer in May, appealed for the city to stop the shooting. He played a video of his brother appealing for the shooting to stop.
Aug. 31, 2:55 p.m. – Two men were shot and seriously wounded as they walked in front of 2071 Walton Ave. in the University Heights section of the Bronx.
Officers from the 46th Precinct found a 28-year-old man shot in the right arm and leg, and a 31-year-old shot in the chest at close range. Both were rushed to St. Barnabas Hospital in serious condition.
Police described the assailant as a Black man between 25 and 30 years old, with skin discoloration. A photo was provided by police.
Aug. 31, 10 p.m. – A 29-year-old man was shot once in the right arm in front of 60 St. Edwards St. in the Ingersoll Houses, a NYCHA development in Fort Greene, Brooklyn.
The victim was taken by private vehicle to Brooklyn Hospital, where is in stable condition. Officers from the 88th Precinct say the victim is being “uncooperative” with detectives.
Aug. 31, 11:07 p.m. – A 22-year-old man was shot in the groin in a dispute at the corner of East 147th Street and Jackson Avenue in the Mott Haven section of the Bronx.
Cops from the 40th Precinct found the victim on the ground just outside of St. Mary’s Park. He was rushed to Lincoln Hospital and is expected to survive.
Police described the shooter as a Black man wearing a black hooded sweatshirt and a blue face mask.
Aug. 31, 11:20 p.m. – A 19-year-old woman was shot in the left thigh inside of 1075 Castleton Ave. on Staten Island. Police from the 120th Precinct say the victim was taken to Rumsey Hospital in stable condition.
At this point, police did not have a description of the shooter.
Aug. 31, 11:30 p.m. – A 43-year-old man was shot in the left shoulder and neck while standing in front of 2-04 Astoria Blvd. in Astoria, Queens.
Officers from the 114th Precinct say the victim told them he was standing at the location when he heard the shots and was hit. The victim was taken to Elmhurst Hospital, but was expected to survive.
Sept. 1, 4:20 a.m. – A 31-year-old man was shot in the right leg in front of 595 Trinity Ave. in Crotona, Bronx, only a block from a previous shooting two hours before that killed a 29-year-old man.
Officers from the 40th Precinct say the assailant exited a white sedan and fired at the victim, the description of the vehicle similar to that of other shootings.
He was rushed by EMS to Lincoln Hospital where he was said to be in stable condition.
Anyone with information regarding this or the other shootings can call Crime Stoppers at 800-577-TIPS (for Spanish, dial 888-57-PISTA). You can also submit tips online at nypdcrimestoppers.com, or on Twitter @NYPDTips. All calls and messages are kept confidential.