Two teenage boys died after a gunman opened fire at a park in Brooklyn on Sunday. The boys, 16 and 18, were two of eight homicides across the city that day.
Police say the teens were near a popular basketball court by Highland Park in Cypress Hills around 6:30 p.m. when someone shot 16-year-old Kleimer Mendez in the head. The 18-year-old boy, Antonio Villa, was shot in the head and rushed to a hospital in critical condition. Police say he later died on Monday. A 17-year-old was also shot in the leg.
Police say that the shooter while hanging out from the sunroof of a dark-colored moving SUV. There have been no arrests and the shooting is under investigation. There were also no descriptions of the suspect.
Chief Rodney Harrison confirmed Villa's death Monday afternoon, calling the boys "innocent teenagers playing basketball."
"This is heartbreaking. His life was just beginning. Sending my thoughts and prayers to the families of these boys. No parent should ever have to bury a child," Mayor Bill de Blasio said about the gun violence late Sunday.
Friends and community members erected a memorial Monday morning next to the park for Mendez. His friends say he was eager to continue his education and pursue a career in music.
There were a total of eight recorded homicides on Sunday alone. All but one of them died by gunshot wounds, according to the NYPD. Apart from the two teenage boys, the homicides included a 32-year-old man in Brooklyn, a woman around 24 to 35, a 24-year-old man and a 37-year-old man in the Bronx, a 40-year-old man in Queens and a 32-year-old man on Staten Island. Of the seven separate incidents, just one saw a suspect taken into custody.
The city has been grappling with an increase in gun violence across the five boroughs in recent weeks. Just on Saturday, NYPD Brooklyn North precinct said officers participated in a march to stop the violence.
But NYPD Commissioner Dermot Shea, in an interview with NY1 Monday morning, acknowledged the city and department anti-violence efforts are not yet having the full intended impact.
“When we have a day with 15 shootings in New York City that’s not a success, there’s no other way to put that," Shea said. “There are still some challenges throughout New York City with repeat gun offenders, with the gang situation, with large groups on the street and how to tackle them in terms of alcohol and things of that nature.”
Assemblymember Rodneyse Bichotte and Council Member Farah Louis, both representatives of Brooklyn's Flatbush neighborhood, attended Mayor de Blasio's daily briefing on Monday to help announce the creation of a new recreation center at Nostrand Playground. The center, which does not yet have a construction or opening timeline, will hold an indoor pool and two-lane track, as well as a kitchen for instructional classes, they said.
"For years, children in our neighborhood have been looking for a place to go, where they can safely gather with friends," Bichotte said. "Where there is no oversight, youth can become disengaged and motivated by peer pressure. We need to protect our children from the risk posed by unstructured free time."
The Shirley Chisholm Community Reaction Center will be named after the late politician who became the first black woman elected to the U.S. Congress. Funding for the community center was redistributed from the NYPD budget, de Blasio said.