‘There is another way’: Bronx leaders call for an end to gun violence amid recent McDonald’s shooting

On Tuesday, July 9, local officials and community members rallied against gun violence after a shooting at a local McDonald's in Allerton.
On Tuesday, July 9, local officials and community members rallied against gun violence after a shooting at a local McDonald’s in Allerton.
Photo ET Rodriguez

Elected officials, organization leaders and community members gathered outside of the McDonald’s at 2516 White Plains Rd. on Tuesday, July 8, to call for an end to gun violence after a recent shooting shook the neighborhood. Some joined in on the chants to reclaim the streets from violence while others held signs reading, “Don’t shoot. I want to grow up.”

“The mindset that it’s okay to pick up a weapon and shoot someone is unacceptable, it’s outrageous and it’s not normal,” Bronx Borough President Vanessa Gibson told the crowd through a megaphone.

On July 6, two young boys — ages 12 and 13 — walked into the same McDonald’s where Tuesday’s press conference was held when a gunman entered the fast-food chain and opened fire in what media outlets are calling a targeted assault. The teenager caught a bullet to the thigh while the 12-year-old was hit in the leg and back. The children were rushed to Jacobi Hospital and survived their injuries, but the shooter is still on the loose.

“McDonald’s is supposed to be a safe place,” said Bronx District Attorney Darcel Clark, who had an orange, satin ribbon pinned to her orange dress as a call to gun violence awareness. “Thank God they’re still alive, but that’s not always the outcome.”

On Saturday, July 6, a gunman opened fire at a McDonald’s in Allerton, injuring two young boys.Photo ET Rodriguez
The inside seating area at the McDonalds at 2516 White Plains Rd., where the shooting took place, was closed off to customers.Photo ET Rodriguez

Marjorie Buckner, a mother of two teenage boys from Soundview, is all too familiar with the devastation gun violence can cause. In 2012, the father of her children was shot and killed in the Bronx. She eventually remarried and in 2022, she lost another husband to gun violence. She was at the rally as a “credible messenger” with Jacobi Hospital’s Stand Up to Violence (SUV) program.

“I’ve been to a juvenile facility, I’ve been to different judicial systems [and] I’ve gotten in trouble,” Buckner told the Bronx Times.

A victim of a neglectful home, Buckner grew up never having a birthday cake and was raised by a mother with substance abuse issues.

“But I also went to college and opened my own business,” she added. “I’m letting them know there is another way.”

Buckner’s youngest recently graduated from Bronx Science High School and her eldest is on track to attend college.

Jacobi’s SUV program, which just celebrated a decade of working with youth toward violence prevention, uses trained professionals to help mitigate gun violence in the borough. Staff ranges from therapists and social workers to the aforementioned “credible messengers” -— individuals who have had their own run-ins with the law and who troubled youth can turn to in lieu of police. Other such organizations include Bronx Rises Against Gun Violence (BRAG), Release The Grip (RTG) and Save Our Streets (SOS) which focuses on crime-riddled neighborhoods of the Bronx and Brooklyn.

(l.) Bronx District Attorney, Darcel Clark; Pastor Jay Gooding, director of community outreach for Jacobi SUV and others join to bring light to the overwhelming problem of gun violence in the Bronx.Photo ET Rodriguez
Daniel Haynes, father and member of Jacobi Hospital’s Stand Up to Violence program, worries about the safety of his eight-year-old son.Photo ET Rodriguez

Since the 1990s, shooting incidents and homicides in New York City have fallen more than 50%, but not much has changed within the last 20 years. In 2000, the NYPD reported 1,794 shooting incidents and 673 homicides. In 2021, that number was 1,562 and 486, respectively, with little fluctuation in between. And according to data from Pew Research, U.S. teens and children killed by gunfire were highest in 2021 dating back to 1999.

“You got more people trying to stand up against gun violence, but there hasn’t been too much change,” said Daniel Haynes, who has been working with SUV for five years and was holding a sign that read, “Don’t Shoot Children At Play.”

Haynes worries for the safety of his 8-year-old son who attends P.S. 41, less than a 20-minute walk from where Saturday’s shooting took place. “I just want my son be able to go to school comfortably.”

Some attribute the crime amongst youth as an inordinate access to guns, others, like Buckner, believe that compassion and education should be taught at home in order to produce compassionate and educated members of society. Whatever the cause,  children are suffering and dying from a preventable source.

The rally closed with a prayer and with Rev. Roger Hambrick of Green Pastures Baptist Church singing Bill Wither’s, “Lean On Me.” The crowd joined in, clapping along and waving their hands in the air as a bid to the Heavens.

“If you have information about what happened here, please let us know,” said DA Clark. “We have to teach our kids and our young people that there’s another way to deal with conflict and it’s not about picking up a gun.”

Hugs were plenty outside of the McDonald’s at 2516 White Plains Rd. as locals gathered to protest gun violence.Photo ET Rodriguez

Reach ET Rodriguez at etrodriguez317@gmail.com. For more coverage, follow us on Twitter, Facebook and Instagram @bronxtimes