NEW YORK (CBSNewYork) – It was 10 years ago today that Brooklyn City Councilman James Davis was killed inside City Hall.
Davis brought political rival Othniel Askew to a council meeting at City Hall on July 23, 2003, and then was shot dead by the man in front of schoolchildren and a chamber full of government leaders.
Askew fired 14 shots from the balcony, striking Davis twice in the chest, CBS News reported.
Councilman Lew Fidler was at his desk in the packed mahogany-paneled council chamber when the shots rang out.
“I turned and I was sitting next to Councilman Stewart, who instinctively dove for the floor. I thought that was a pretty good idea, so I followed him,” said Fidler. “I’ve never been that close to gunfire. It was an awfully frightening moment, an awfully tragic moment and all I can remember is calling my wife on my way out of the building to let her know that I was OK and that the councilman that they were going to say was shot was not me.”
Fidler said before leaving the chamber, he looked up to the balcony where the shots came from.
“I did, but I don’t recall seeing anything because I remember seeing the police officer standing with his gun pointed up towards the balcony and smoke coming from around his gun,” Fidler recounted.
Councilman Charles Barron said the shooting was the most traumatic moment he’s encountered in the City Council.
“I’ll never forget the moment. I was almost frozen,” Barron recalled. “Oh my God, the panic. The first thing I saw, the security rushing the speaker out and I saw people on the ground. My staff was on the ground, under tables, crawling toward the committee room.”
The emotion was still palpable as Barron recalled how Davis lost his life, 1010 WINS’ Stan Brooks reported.
“It’s the most traumatic moment I’ve ever encountered here in the City Council to actually see my friend, my colleague, get shot down like that,” Barron said.
NYPD Officer Richard Burt fired several shots, killing Askew. Burt was later promoted to detective for his actions.
Earlier this month, Davis’ brother Geoffrey staged a 10-day hunger strike outside City Hall to demand an end to gun violence.
James Davis served as an NYPD officer and correction officer before being elected to the 35th District seat in 2001.
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