A shooting in the Bronx last week that left one teen dead and another hospitalized has reminded members of the community that too many New Yorkers, including children, continue to suffer the consequences of gun violence.
Last Thursday, officers from the 41st Precinct responded to the Police Athletic League (PAL) New South Bronx Center in Longwood after a person parked an SUV across the street, got out and opened fire on a group of people leaving the facility.
Josue Lopez-Ortega, 15, was shot in the back of the head, and another boy, 16, whose identity has been withheld, was struck in the leg. The 16-year-old was listed in stable condition, but Ortega died at Lincoln Hospital a day later. According to data from the NYPD, there had already been 13 gun violence victims in the Bronx just from Jan. 16 through this past Sunday, up over 116% from that same week last year.
New York State Assemblymember Kenny Burgos, who represents Longwood in District 85, told the Bronx Times in an interview Monday that last week’s shooting was “a tremendous tragedy.”
“It’s heartbreaking, tragic, and just infuriating quite honestly,” he said. “We see these continuous accounts of gun violence happening, not just in my district, but throughout the whole city.”
According to data from the Gun Violence Archive, there had already been 2,683 gun violence deaths in the U.S. by Monday. One of the most recent instances was a mass shooting at a Lunar New Year celebration in Monterey Park, California, this weekend that left 10 dead and others wounded.
“When crimes like this happen, constituents are worried,” Burgos said. “It resonates with them. If you have a 15-year-old unfortunately shot, I can’t blame a single parent out there who has a teenager and doesn’t put themselves in that parent’s shoes.”
The assemblymember said that while last Thursday’s shooting was heartbreaking, he still tries to be deliberate when drafting legislation.
“One thing I don’t get involved in is being reactive in policy based on headlines and fear,” Burgos said. “We want to take in the data, we want to speak with the professionals, we want to speak with agencies, and law enforcement, and look really hard at the data and see how we can change policy to curb violence.”
PIX-11 reported Friday that investigators believe the shooting outside of the PAL last week was a “targeted attack.” The NYPD did not respond to Bronx Times inquiries about a motive for the incident Monday.
A spokesperson from the Police Athletic League chapter in the Bronx — a youth development nonprofit that partners with the NYPD to engage kids through programming — declined to comment on the shooting Monday.
In a statement, Bronx Borough President Vanessa Gibson said last week’s homicide makes it “abundantly clear that the gun epidemic in New York City is far from over.”
“Our children deserve to learn and recreate in safe environments,” she said. “Guns have no place in our streets, and they certainly have no place in our educational facilities and recreational spaces. These incidents and so many others highlight the urgent need for us to stop the proliferation of guns in our neighborhoods.”
Last week cops said they are looking for a gray Jeep Renegade in connection to the homicide. As of Friday, no arrests had been made and the investigation was still ongoing.
Reach Camille Botello at [email protected]. For more coverage, follow us on Twitter, Facebook and Instagram @bronxtimes