Published: 02:10 BST, 22 September 2020 | Updated: 02:46 BST, 22 September 2020
The father of a one-year-old boy who was shot in his stroller in Brooklyn has shared his anguish and pleaded for change as New York City’s surge in gun violence rages on.
Davell Gardner broke his silence following the death of his son Davell Jr in a public service announcement shared by the NYPD on Monday.
‘My one-year-old son was a victim to gun violence,’ Gardner said, his voice shaking with emotion.
‘There’s just days that I wake up, and I just hope and pray … just to see him, just to hear his voice.
Davell Jr was struck by a stray bullet while sitting in his stroller during a cookout at a playground in Brooklyn’s Bedford Stuyvesant neighborhood on July 12.
Police say the senseless shooting which sent shockwaves through the Big Apple involved at least one gang member.
Davell Gardner (pictured) shared his anguish over the shooting death of his one-year-old son Davell Jr in a public service announcement posted by the NYPD on Monday
Davell Jr (pictured with his father) was struck by a stray bullet while sitting in his stroller during a cookout at a playground in Brooklyn’s Bedford Stuyvesant neighborhood on July 12
In his video for the NYPD, Gardner described the moment he learned that his baby had been shot.
‘That night, planning his second birthday party, talking to him, hearing him outside playing, and for just that night to hear a phone call that he was shot in the stomach,’ he said.
‘The doctors just come in and just tell me my son is gone. It just took me to another world,’ Gardner said.
‘I just couldn’t believe it. I just felt like I was living a nightmare and I couldn’t wake up. I just felt lost. I was in a dark place.’
Gardner broke down in tears and apologized before composing himself and urging viewers to help prevent others from experiencing the same pain he has.
‘Help make a change,’ he said. ‘This has to stop. This has to. I had to bury my son.
‘There’s a lot of parents out there [who] have to bury their kids. Help make a change.’
Gardner described the moment he learned that his baby had been shot, saying: ‘I just couldn’t believe it. I just felt like I was living a nightmare and I couldn’t wake up. I just felt lost’
Gardner pleaded: ‘Help make a change. This has to stop. This has to. I had to bury my son. There’s a lot of parents out there [who] have to bury their kids. Help make a change’
Gardner’s heartfelt plea came as police have yet to track down his son’s killer and have repeatedly asked the public to offer up any information that could lead to a break in the case.
Surveillance video captured the moment two men dressed in black descended on the playground and opened fire at about 11.35pm on July 12.
Last month the NYPD released photos and video of three men wanted for questioning in the attack, which wounded three men in addition to Davell Jr.
One video showed two men looking at their phones. One of the men’s faces was obscured by a bandanna.
In a second video, a man can be seen walking inside a building along with a case or speaker.
Davell Jr’s grandmother Samantha spoke to the New York Daily News after the shooting and demanded justice.
‘When is it going to end? When are these young African American men, when are they going to stop with the shooting and the killing of all these innocent kids? It don’t make any sense,’ she said.
Samantha called her grandson the ‘joy’ in her life, adding: ‘They need to stop this gun violence. I feel like this: You all are ranting and raving about black lives. But you take a life that was only a year and half old. And it’s not fair.
Surveillance video captured the moment two men descended on the playground and opened fire at about 11.35pm on July 12
One video showed two men looking at their phones. One of the men’s faces was obscured by a bandanna
In a second video, a man can be seen walking insider a building along with a case or speaker
New York City has endured a vicious crime wave in recent months, with shootings skyrocketing by more than 90 percent and murders rising 27 percent compared to 2019.
Harrowing NYPD data published in the 2020 Mayor’s Management Report last week revealed a staggering 352 New Yorkers were murdered in the 2020 fiscal year – an extra 74 deaths compared to 2019.
The biggest crime spike was for gang-motivated incidents which skyrocketed 52 percent compared to the previous year.
While the report from City Hall attributes this particular surge to the NYPD ‘improving its capacity to more accurately identify incidents as gang related’, the findings come at a time when drive-by shootings and gun crime are becoming increasingly commonplace across the city.
The NYPD has blamed the rise in crime on Mayor Bill de Blasio’s office, pointing to bail reform policies and the release of thousands of prisoners from Rikers Island during the coronavirus pandemic.
Police officials have also accused de Blasio of making their jobs more difficult by agreeing to slash the NYPD’s budget under pressure from Black Lives Matter protesters.
Meanwhile de Blasio has argued that the crime spike was fueled by restlessness in the wake of coronavirus-related shutdowns and economic woes wrought by the pandemic.
New York City has endured a vicious crime wave in recent months, with shootings skyrocketing by more than 90 percent and murders rising 27 percent compared to 2019. Pictured: Police at the scene of the Davell Jr shooting in Bedford Stuyvesant
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