1 dead, 11 others shot at community event in Brooklyn park
NEW YORK (AP) — Late night gunfire at a large, outdoor event in Brooklyn killed one man, wounded 11 others and sent hundreds and perhaps thousands of people running for cover.
The shooting erupted just as the crowd at the annual Old Timers Event in the Brownsville neighborhood was beginning to disperse Saturday, witnesses said.
“There were a lot of people just chilling and having a good time,” Kaseem Collins, 19, told the Daily News. Then, when shots rang out, “we all started running,” he said. “I ran as fast as I could away from everyone. I thought I was going to get shot.”
“I heard shots, and I saw a stampede running toward me,” Diamond Perez, 38, told the newspaper.
New York City Police Commissioner James P. O’Neill told NY1 that police do not have a suspect and that it’s unknown whether there was more than one gunman. It was also unclear what sparked the shooting.
A 38-year-old man died with a single bullet wound to his head, a New York City police spokesman said. His identity was not released, and the status of the 11 wounded was unclear.
O’Neill said 2,000 to 3,000 people were attending the event at the Brownsville Recreation Center next to a playground, and that more than 100 police officers were stationed there.
Mayor Bill de Blasio tweeted early Sunday that the shooting “shattered a peaceful neighborhood event.” A 2010 newsletter from the parks department described the Old Timers Event as a celebration of “former members of the center who went on to success and fame in sports and other endeavors” that’s grown to include concerts and other events. A flyer for the dayslong celebration said Saturday’s event was to begin at 6 p.m. on Hegeman Avenue, in the vicinity of the site of the shooting.
City Council Member Alicka Amprey-Samuel shared de Blasio’s tweet and added comments of her own.
“One of the worst experiences of my life,” the council member for the 41st District tweeted. “How does such a beautiful and peaceful event become overshadowed by tragedy in seconds?”
“It was chaos,” Gary Miller, a 60-year-old vendor at the event, told the New York Post. “Shots rang out and the crowd was already dispersing and you heard about 9 to 11 shots and everyone was running and scattering for cover.”
Videos posted on social media showed police clearing large groups of people out of the area around the recreation center following the shooting. Photos from local news outlets showed several people taken from the scene on stretchers, including some with what appeared to be minor wounds.
Brownsville is a neighborhood that’s continued to struggle with gun violence, even as New York streets become safer than they have been in decades.
“We will do everything in our power to keep this community safe and get guns off our streets,” de Blasio tweeted.
State Sen. Roxanne J. Persaud echoed de Blasio, adding the hashtags “#StopTheViolence” and “#PutDownTheGuns” to her tweets expressing frustration with the shooting, which she called “unacceptable” and “cowardly.”
“Our community mourns again. We should be able to have fun in open spaces without fear of violence,” tweeted Persaud, whose district includes Brownsville. “Respect your community. We are better than the violence.”