Rally Against Gun Violence In Wake of West Farms Shooting

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Members of the West Farms community gathered en masse to show their outrage over a shooting that that left a two-year-old in critical condition, and a 20 year-old and 6-year-old in the hospital.

On Wednesday. August 31, Councilman Joel Rivera held a demonstration that brought elected officials and neighborhood leaders together to demand greater enforcement of gun laws, and more responsibility from neighborhood residents in keeping young people occupied with pursuits other than violence.

The rally was held at 964 East 181st Street, at the corner of Vyse Avenue, the same spot at which three young people were shot just two days prior.

“This is a good neighborhood and a good community,” Rivera said. “I want to send the message to the two percent who want to do something negative that this will not be tolerated.”

Twenty-three year old Edenwald resident Luis More turned himself in to authorities at the 48th Precinct that Tuesday. He was charged with attempted murder, assault, criminal possession of a firearm andcriminal use of a firearm. He is being held at Rikers Island without bail.

More pleaded not guilty.

Police said the investigation into the case is still ongoing, and they have identified another person of interest, but as of Tuesday, September 6 have no additional suspects in custody.

This year, there had already been six murders reported within the 48th precinct through Sunday, August 28. Only five occurred in all of 2010.

State legislators at the rally pointed to gun laws as the key to preventing similar incidents.

“To make sure this doesn’t happen again, the gun laws at the state level have to be both enforced and strengthen­ed,” said Senator Gustavo Rivera.

Senator Ruben Diaz Sr. added that “It’s up to the police to enforce these laws. If we don’t enforce them, they do nothing.”

Others however, said parents need to steer their kids towards positive activities and set a good example on their own, because access to illegal firearms combined with lack of occupation is often what leads to senseless acts of violence.

“If you want to learn about any after school programs, please reach out to our offices,” Rivera said. “If people are not aware of them, they’re not going to be able to use them.”

Annette Casper De Jesus is CEO of West Farms-based community organization Twin Park Kids.

She said the most valuable aspect of the rally was that it boosted neighborhood cohesion and morale after the tragic shooting.

“The community is going to realize there are a lot of people here who do good things, and there are a lot of good organizati­ons.”

Two-year-old victim Patience Boyd was shot in the head and was clinging to life in critical condition a week after the attack. Six-year-old Jayla Rodriguez was grazed on the neck and 20-year-old Ricky Rodriguez (no relation) was shot in the torso.

The latter two were taken to St. Barnabas Hospital. Dr. Earnest Patti, chief of the hospital’s ER also spoke at the event.

“This just rips us apart,” he said. “We are here to help you, but we need the community to help us. It breaks my heart when I work on the weekends and see young ones come in shot up.”

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