Block party shootout may have been gang related, police say
NEW YORK (AP) — A shootout that left one man dead and 11 people wounded at a Brooklyn community festival over the weekend may have been gang related, the New York Police Department said Monday as the hunt continued for at least two gunmen.
Several victims of the shooting late Saturday had gang histories, including the man who was killed, Chief of Detectives Dermot Shea said. But “whether or not that played any role” has not been determined, Shea said.
Commissioner James O’Neill said police are looking at the possibility of gang involvement, in part because gang violence accounts for about half the shootings in that area of the city.
The neighborhood, Brownsville, had a violent crime rate last year that was more than double the citywide average. It is one of six areas receiving special attention from the police department to drive down crime.
Brownsville’s annual Old Timers Day event, a two-day block party featuring musical performances from former residents and current local talent, was coming to a close and the crowd was dispersing when gunfire erupted in a playground at the recreation center where it was being held.
Jason Pagan, 38, died of a gunshot wound to the head. He was a member of the Bloods gang, Shea said, adding that it wasn’t yet clear if he was a target of the shooting.
“We still don’t have who was shooting at who,” Shea said.
Pagan, who police said lived about five blocks from the park, was released on parole in January after more than two years in prison on a weapons charge.
Six men and five women between ages 21 and 55 were hospitalized with gunshot wounds. One person who was listed in critical condition is now in serious condition, Shea said.
In a story on the front pages of the city’s tabloids, 21-year-old college student Daniesa Murdaugh credited her bra with stopping a bullet and saving her life.
No arrests have been made. Police said they believed there were at least two gunmen. One gun was recovered at the scene.
Asked at a news conference Monday how many suspects were being sought, Shea said police “will look for as many as were involved,” adding that authorities have received several tips from community members.
Videos on social media showed police clearing large groups of people out of the area around the park. Authorities asked anyone with information or video of the shooting to come forward.
Later Monday, community leaders and residents convened at the site of the festival for an anti-violence march. Images posted to social media by elected officials, news reporters and others showed a crowd, some in T-shirts honoring the Old Timers Day tradition, and marching through nearby streets in a procession that stretched for multiple blocks.
“Brownsville in, violence out!” some chanted.
The Old Timers Event has been an annual tradition in Brownsville since 1963 and has grown to attract crowds of about 5,000 people on Friday night and about 10,000 people on Saturday night, O’Neill said.
New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio said the event was an “example of everything good about the Brownsville community” and decried the shooting as a “tragedy.”
O’Neill said more than 100 police officers were on duty at the festival and quickly jumped into action when the shooting started.
He said police will review security procedures for the festival and other events in the city and make changes where necessary.
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