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Murders are down across NYC, but Brownsville has endured one tragic death after another in 2024


Murder may be down across New York City, but in Brownsville the candlelight vigils and funerals never seem to stop.

The 73rd Precinct, which includes Brownsville, has seen 11 homicides through June 2 — nearly triple the four in the same time span last year.

Almost all the victims were cut down by gun violence. The victims range from 15 to 55 years old and include a beloved school crossing guard, two men murdered in cases of mistaken identity and a teen accidentally shot by his younger cousin.

Residents trying to make sense of the bloodshed have grown wary, with some praying for peace, others working to change the neighborhood and still others hoping to leave.

Maria Torres, 58, has lived in Brownsville for 27 years and raised five kids there. While they’ve grown into adults, she still worries that they’ll fall victim to gun violence.

“They cannot go to the park because of the shootings,” she said. “I’m sick and tired of this.

“It’s gotten worse. Everyday is something else,” said Torres, who is planning to move to Rhode Island. “I’m going to be two months here, and I’m going to move.”

From the end of summer through early fall in 2023, there was a six-week stretch with no homicides in the 73rd Precinct, and seven reported during the whole year. With 11 homicides in the precinct as of June 2, the only other area with such a dramatic jump in killings is the 46th Precinct in the Bronx, with three homicides reported by this time last year and 12 this year.

 

Richard Henderson was trying to break up an argument over loud music when he was shot to death on a Brooklyn subway train on Sunday, Jan. 14, 2024.
Richard Henderson was trying to break up an argument over loud music when he was shot to death on a Brooklyn subway train on Jan. 14, 2024.

A staggering 20% of all Brooklyn’s 55 homicides this year, spread over 23 precincts, have taken place in the 73rd Precinct, NYPD statistics show. During the same period, there have been 144 murders citywide, with roughly one in 13 in the 73rd Precinct, just one of 77 precincts in all five boroughs.

Beloved crossing guard

The first person killed in Brownsville this year was a grandfather who worked as a school crossing guard in Manhattan and was trying to break up an argument over loud music when he was shot to death on a No. 3 train, police said.

Richard Henderson, 45, of Flatbush, was on his way home from watching a football playoff game with pals on January 14, according to cops. The gunman started arguing with a fellow rider over the noise, and Henderson tried to talk the men out of quarreling, police sources said.

Instead, the shooter, after yelling “I ain’t having this today!”, opened fire twice in Henderson’s direction as the train approached the Rockaway Ave. stop at Livonia Ave., cops said.

“We’re just still shell-shocked trying to make sense of it,” Henderson’s brother Jermaine Henderson, 50, told the Daily News the day after the murder.

Medics remove a shooting victim from the Franklin Avenue - Eastern Parkway subway station in Brooklyn, New York City on Sunday, Jan. 14, 2024. (Gardiner Anderson for New York Daily News)
Medics remove a shooting victim from the Franklin Avenue – Eastern Parkway subway station in Brooklyn, New York City on Jan. 14, 2024. (Gardiner Anderson for New York Daily News)

The following week, Desmond Francis, 36, was fatally shot by a friend outside a smoke shop near the corner of Ralph and Sutter Aves., according to cops. After Francis entered the store, he playfully grabbed two bags from the friend, who apparently didn’t recognize him, followed him outside and shot Francis once in the chest.

The “shooter kind of seems to realize, ‘I just shot my friend,’ and immediately calls 911,” NYPD Chief of Detectives Joseph Kenny said at a press briefing. “On 911, we can hear, ‘I didn’t know it was you. I’m really, really sorry.’”

The victim was killed just a few blocks from where he lived with his mother, according to his aunt Vivian Philips.

“It broke my sister’s heart,” Philips, 65.

Mistaken identity

Two days later, on January 24, 28-year-old father and high-risk youth mentor Shaquary Bryant was shot on Atlantic and Rockaway Aves. in a case of mistaken identity. Cops said the shooter believed he was getting revenge for a carjacking that had just taken place at the same intersection.

A 28yr old man was pronounced dead at Brookdale Hospital after he was shot multiple times in the torso at the intersection of Atlantic Avenue and Rockaway Avenue in Brooklyn on Wednesday Jan. 24, 2024. 2336. Photos taken on Thursday Jan. 25, 2024. . (Theodore Parisienne for New York Daily News)
A 28-year-old man was pronounced dead at Brookdale Hospital after he was shot multiple times in the torso at the intersection of Atlantic and Rockaway Avenues in Brooklyn on Jan. 24, 2024. (Theodore Parisienne for New York Daily News)

Bryant was driving to his regular overnight shift at a residence for teens in trouble with the law around 11:25 p.m. when he was shot in the chest.

“My son was shot for nothing,” his father, Brian Cook, told the Daily News. “It’s very, very hurtful. He died for no reason. He was going to work.”

A month later, Brandon Paulino, 30, who lived in a supportive housing facility on MacDougal St. near Broadway, was killed outside the building after being put into a chokehold by Eduardo Martinez, a fellow resident.

Paulino, who suffered from schizophrenia, had called Martinez a pedophile and thrown a punch, according to prosecutors. Martinez, who had never been arrested for rape and is not on the sexual offender registry, told cops he did not mean to kill Paulino, according to a criminal complaint.

The victim’s heartbroken family questioned the facility’s lack of security and said Paulino was suffering “an episode” when he attacked Martinez, whom the victim thought of as a friend.

On March 13, Naishan Davis, 37, was shot on Sutter Ave. near Rockaway Ave.

“His smile changed my outlook on life because he gave me so much joy,” wrote the victim’s mother, Mintrous Davis, on a tribute wall of the funeral home that handled his service.

“let’s stand together so his killers don’t stay free after robbing me,” she wrote. “BROWNSVILLE WE ARE GOD’S SQUAD LET’S TELL IT SO THAT WE CAN CLEAN THE TRASH FROM OUR STREETS. FOR I’M SO BROKEN.”

On his mother’s doorstep

Anthony Barlow, 50, was killed in a double shooting at Sutter Ave. and Mother Gaston Blvd. on April 8, just steps away from his mother’s house.

Police on the scene where two persons were shot in front of 444 Mother Gaston Blvd., on Monday, April 8, 2024 (Sam Costanza for the New York Daily News)
Police on the scene where two persons were shot in front of 444 Mother Gaston Blvd., on April 8, 2024 (Sam Costanza for the New York Daily News)

“Everybody around here loved him. He was nice, kind, calm. There was nothing that I asked him that he wouldn’t do for me,” said the grieving mom, who did not give her name.

Andrew Mason, 55, was found shot in the face inside a home on Eastern Pkwy. near Thomas S. Boyland St. less than two weeks later.

“He’d been there a few days. The blood was all dried. Nobody heard a shot,” a neighbor told the Daily News.

On May 3, Jalil Nixon, 34, was killed at Junius St. and Glenmore Ave. in a double shooting at another supportive housing complex. A pre-dawn 911 call led police to find the victims with gunshot wounds inside the lobby of the Stone House, according to police. Nixon’s cousin was also shot but survived, said the family.

Jalil Nixon was shot multiple times inside the Stone House supportive housing complex in Brownsville on May 3, 2024. (Facebook)
Jalil Nixon was shot multiple times inside the Stone House supportive housing complex in Brownsville on May 3, 2024. (Facebook)

Gun violence has haunted Nixon’s family. While Jalil Nixon was still in his mother’s womb, his father was shot and killed at the nearby Howard Houses, said his aunt, Jackie Nixon. His brother Jamal Nixon was shot on two separate occasions by police and was killed in a 2003 shootout that erupted after police spotted him firing a weapon randomly outside the Seth Low Houses on New Year’s Eve, according to The New York Times.

“It happens so often, no one’s doing nothing. It’s like they killed him, so what?” she said.

“I’m not hanging out”

Maurice Boodie, 24, was fatally shot in the chest and right leg on May 12 outside his home on Strauss St., just own the block from a 2022 double slaying.

A neighbor questioned why Boodie would have been targeted, noting she couldn’t think of anyone he may have had a beef with.

“[He was] just loving,” the neighbor told the Daily News. “I was shocked when I heard about it.”

Another neighbor said locals avoided spending time outside.

“I’ve been here seven years,” said the neighbor. “I’m not hanging out on the stoop.”

Less than a week later, 30-year-old Lamont Russell of Bedford-Stuyvesant was shot multiple times in the chest on Osborn St. near Pitkin Ave. It was the same corner where he had allegedly shot a rival in 2019.

“He was always very energetic. He was a charismatic people person,” said his nephew Rashad Jenkins. “He was funny. He loved to make people laugh.”

Also on Osborn St. near Pitkin Ave., inside the Howard Houses, Jasai Guy, just 15, was shot and killed with an unlicensed sawed-off shotgun by his 12-year-old cousin on June 2.

Shooting victim Jasai Guy in an undated photo. Guy and his younger cousin were being watched by their grandparents when Guy was fatally shot by his cousin, according to authorities.
Shooting victim Jasai Guy in an undated photo. Guy and his younger cousin were being watched by their grandparents when Guy was fatally shot by his cousin, according to authorities.

The 12-year-old, who was charged with manslaughter, told cops he was grappling for the gun with his cousin when the weapon accidentally fired, the NYPD’s Kenny said. It has not been determined whose gun it was.

Jasai, an honor student known as a talented basketball player who dreamed of being recruited by the NBA, was celebrated at a memorial and balloon release after his death.

His mother Tiffany Guy described her late son as “a wonderful child.”

“I don’t know what to say,” the bereft parent said at the memorial. “I don’t have words. I’m just trying to hold on.”

After the memorial, Darien Scriven, program manager of Brownsville In Violence Out, an anti-gun violence group, said the shooting caused trauma to a lot of kids in the neighborhood.

“One of the kids said ‘I was just playing basketball with him yesterday,’” Scriven recalled.

More help needed

Scriven said not only should elected officials work to pass gun reform laws but that there is a need for more therapists and community resources. He said he imagined a public anti-gun campaign like the ones that targeted cigarettes.

“Let them know that this is not a video game, there’s no coming back from this,” he said.

Scriven gave credit to the 73rd Precinct, which he said had made “big strides,” but said there was still not enough communication between the precinct and the community, particularly the youth.

“I remember when I was growing up, we always knew who the officer was. Most importantly he knew who we were.”

A resident of the Howard Houses who gave his name as Nova, 40, said murder is par for the course in Brownsville.

“It’s the way it is. I don’t think it’s getting worse,” he said. “Some people ain’t got nothing to do except to mess things up for everybody else.”

The day after Jasai Guy was killed, 9-year-old Ruanna Paris Brown and her cousin 11-year-old Empress Alexander Davis were hit by stray gunfire as they played at Hilltop Playground on Dean St. near Thomas S. Boyland St.

After her daughter and niece were shot, Melissa Alexander, 36, expressed her frustration with the crime.

“It’s been going on for too long. The gun violence, the gangs,” she said. “It’s just so stupid, it’s just so out of control. They claimed they’re going to make changes, but it’s just a lot of talking for me. I want to see more movement, more work, more action.

“I get up and pray everyday, not just for my kids, but for the world. It’s sick. It’s more and more craziness,” said Alexander.

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