Following Wakefield shooting of 13-year-old boy, local organization steps in

Bronx Rises Against Gun Violence gathers the day after a Wakefield teen was shot.
Photo courtesy David Caba

A 13-year-old boy was shot in Wakefield on his way to school the Tuesday before Thanksgiving by a man out on parole and bail for separate gun charges, and a local organization is trying to make sure the community can adequately cope.

On Nov. 23, officers from the 47th Precinct responded to a call of shots fired at 928 E. 223rd St. at 7:20 a.m. Upon arrival, they found a teenager with a gunshot wound to his neck. He was immediately transferred to Jacobi Hospital and was in stable condition, police said that day.

On Tuesday — a week after the incident — an NYPD spokesman said they are not aware of a change in the boy’s condition.

The police quickly established a crime scene after finding the victim, Assistant Chief Kenneth Lehr, commander of NYPD Patrol Borough Bronx said at a press conference the day of the incident. While looking for ballistic evidence, they encountered a man — Hubert Wiggs — who put something on the ground — soon identified as a firearm — before quickly picking it up.

Lehr said the cops told Wiggs, 36, to drop the six-shot revolver, but he initially tried to hide it in his waistband. After further commands, he put it down and was taken into custody without incident.

Further investigation revealed that Wiggs was on parole for a 2010 firearm conviction and out on bail for a pending gun charge from 2019, the assistant chief said.

The gun police say was used in the shooting of a 13-year-old boy. Photo courtesy NYPD

“This individual today is on the street while on parole for a firearm, while out on bail on another firearm, and today he is walking around the Bronx with a firearm,” Lehr said. “We have a 13-year-old boy shot in the neck and for the grace of God he is alive here today. So this continues to happen, and you have to ask yourself, was this necessary? I do not think this is necessary. This should not have happened.”

Wiggs was charged with attempted murder, assault, criminal possession of a weapon, reckless endangerment and menacing.

The day after the shooting, members of Bronx Rises Against Gun Violence (BRAG) gathered where the boy was shot to rally against the violence.

David Caba, the group’s senior program director, told the Bronx Times that while the shooting was not gang-related, it took place in one of the hot spots the group monitors for violence. He said staff members spend time frequent target areas at night — places they are from themselves — to de-escalate potential violence. This teen, however, was shot in broad daylight.

The Bronx-based group, part of Good Shepherd Services, promotes safer streets and anti-violent community norms in the borough. The group believes in using “credible messengers,” or people from and familiar with communities at high risk of violence, who can use conflict mediation skills to reason with and relate to young people who may have weapons on them.

“One of the major components of the future of public safety is community-based programs that employ credible messengers,” Caba said. “Credible messengers have a unique reach that you will not find elsewhere. It is a field that is growing rapidly, that is for and by our communities, specifically our communities of color.”

BRAG is offering their free services to friends, family and other community members connected to the shooting victim, with an emphasis on non-violent healing after traumatic experiences.

“At the end of the day, we have to heal from this,” Caba said.

The group tries to intervene before people who may be angry in response to their loved ones being hurt turn to violence to cope. Staff members also work with families of victims to provide resources like relocation, if necessary. Caba said he does not anticipate the teen boy’s family needing to relocate in this situation.

Reach Aliya Schneider at aschneider@schnepsmedia.com or (718) 260-4597. Reach Jason Cohen at jcohen@schnepsmedia.com or (718) 260-4598. For more coverage, follow us on Twitter, Facebook and Instagram @bronxtimes. 

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