A pilot program created to combat the rise in shootings across New York City kicked off in Harlem Saturday evening as the City closed out a fourth straight week of increased gun violence.
The "Occupy the Corner" initiative aims to increase police, clergy and community groups known as violence interrupters to mediate disputes. Local leaders and politicians joined Mayor Bill de Blasio at 143rd Street and Malcolm X Boulevard in an effort to combat the violence.
"This is the people taking back your own community, this is the people saying we will solve our own problems," de Blasio said Saturday.
The event comes at the end of a fourth week of increased gun violence with more that twice the number of shooting recorded over the same period last year. The NYPD's shooting database logged 43 shootings last week, compared to 13 last year - that's a 231% increase. The department says 5 people were killed in those shootings compared to 10 last year.
Critics of the mayor say the program needs to be expanded to other neighborhoods in the Bronx and Brooklyn that see a similar increase in crime.
Hours after the community event, police responded to a shooting in Brooklyn where a 21-year-old man was shot in the head inside a vehicle in Sheepshead Bay. The victim was transported to a nearby hospital and the search continued well into Sunday morning for the suspect.