New York City's progress against gun violence is facing a major setback as a new and troubling trend emerges in the wake of shootings across the five boroughs.
A recent spike in the city's gun violence has disproportionately impacted teenaged victims. Three 16-year-old victims were killed in shootings last week, the same number of teenagers killed in all of 2019, according to NYPD figures.
Kyla Sobers, a 16-year-old shot in a Brooklyn playground on Friday, is recovering in the hospital with a piece of the bullet still lodged in her head. Police are hoping to track down people who might know information about her shooting.
Sobers has been described by police investigators as an unintended target. She was hanging out in the Boerum Hill park with friends after a day at her Cobble Hill high school when three suspects rolled up to the area on bikes and fired multiple rounds in her direction.
Her shooting caps off a violent week for 16-year-olds across the city. Two days earlier, two victims of the same age were gunned down in Bed-Stuy and the Belmont section of the Bronx.
Jaden Turnage, 16, was found with a fatal gunshot wound in his chest on Monroe Street on Wednesday around 6:15 p.m., according to police reports. Nearly six hours earlier, 16-year-old Nisayah Sanchez had been shot in the chest and back of his head on East 187th Street. He died two days later at Saint Barnabas Hospital.
Police have not announced arrests in either case.
The first 16-year-old victim of the week died on Tuesday in East New York. Police said Cahlil Pennington was shot at the Fiorentino Plaza Houses around 1:30 p.m. EMS rushed the teenager to Brookdale Hospital where he was pronounced dead.
In the first nine months of the year, the number of teenage victims fatally shot in New York City has more than doubled the figure reported by police in all of last year. Police say at least 16 teens have been killed in 2021.
It's not only fatal shootings that have spiked in the past week. Police responded to nearly a dozen scenes in the past seven days that wounded teenage victims, the latest one early Sunday morning.
Police said a 17-year-old walking through a Bronx park around 2 a.m. Sunday heard gunshots moments before realizing he had been shot in the back. He was able to call 911 and was picked up and rushed to a nearby hospital.
The rising violence against young people has caught the attention of both mayoral candidates over the weekend.
"You need a street crime unit, men and women who are out there undercover who know where the guns are, where the gangs are -- that has to be reimplemented," said candidate and Guardian Angels founder Curtis Sliwa.
Eric Adams, the current Brooklyn borough president and mayoral hopeful, commented on the spike as well.
"Our guns and gangs crisis is stealing the futures of our young people while it endangers our entire city. We have a moral responsibility to get guns off our streets to protect our children, and we are failing," he wrote in a statement.