NEW YORK (CBSNewYork) – Police are searching for the gunman who opened fire at a Brooklyn playground, hitting a 13-year-old girl in the shoulder.
She’s the latest victim in more than a dozen stray bullet shootings in New York City this summer.
Community leaders are angry in Bed-Stuy over the rash of innocent bystanders getting hit by stray bullets.
“Our kids should not have to worry about sitting in a park and worrying about a bullet flying into their chest, their back, neck or head or whatever it might be,” said Tony Herbert of the National Action Network.
Herbert spoke at a press conference at St. Andrew’s Playground, where a 13-year-old girl was shot in the shoulder while sitting on a bench last night. It happened just before 8 p.m. Wednesday.
The girl’s mother was too upset to speak on camera, but told CBS2’s Cindy Hsu the bullet pierced her daughter’s lung and she’s stable in intensive care.
Police are searching for a suspect as they investigate the many stray bullet shootings in the last two months.
“It’s unsafe for the teenagers and everybody. Actually, that’s not fair. We want a safe place,” said Bed Stuy resident Tazia Sultana.
Witnesses said the playground was full of kids, and victim ran away when shots were fired, but only reached the sidewalk at St. Andrew’s Place and Herkimer Street, where she waited for an ambulance.
“I see a girl on the ground sitting there, and somebody sat beside her talking to her to keep her, I guess, alive,” witness Keisha Payne told CBS2.
Jackie Porter lives in the same apartment building as the victim and told CBS2’s Aundrea Cline-Thomas she knows the victim’s mother.
“She’s a good mother. She’s a working mother. She makes sure her daughter goes to private school. She’s a good child,” Porter said.
The girl, who is going to be an eighth grader in the upcoming school year, was taken to the hospital in stable condition.
“We’re always in here together, running around, playing, having fun,” her friend said.
The playground is meant to be a place where kids feel free has become more of a sore spot in the neighborhood. A 16-year-old was among three people shot there during Memorial Day weekend.
“The park always has a little problem sometimes, especially the summer times, especially summer time,” said Bed-Stuy resident Joan Mercurius.
Area residents say the children don’t really have anywhere else to go.
The girl joins a growing list of victims struck by stray bullets in the city this summer. More than a dozen innocent bystanders have been struck by stray bullets since the start of June, including four other children.
- June 4 – A 15-year-old girl was shot in thigh while sitting on a bench on a basketball court in Bushwick.
- June 5 – A seven-year-old Bronx boy was shot in the leg while walking home from school with his grandmother.
- June 5 – Two elderly women were shot while sitting in their Queens home.
- June 7 – An East Harlem woman was shot in arm at 102nd Street and Madison Ave.
- June 10 – A man is shot and killed while his walking dog in Hamilton Heights.
- June 12 – A Bronx woman was shot in the arm while walking to work on Williamsbridge Road.
- June 20 – An 11-year-old boy and 31-year-old man were shot on a sidewalk in Crown Heights. The boy could be paralyzed.
- June 21 – A man, 20, was shot in the neck while sitting in a car in East New York.
- June 23 – Two men and a woman were shot in the Bronx. At least one was an innocent bystander.
- July 13 – A woman, 76, was grazed in the neck while sitting in a car in Queens.
- July 13 – A woman, 67, was shot in the leg inside the lobby of the George Washington Houses in East Harlem.
- July 21 – An 11-year-old boy was shot in the leg outside an East Harlem deli.
“A big part of our problem is coming from a small number of gang and crew members. The best solution is to take down those gangs and crews and to have successful prosecutions,” said Mayor Bill de Blasio.
While politicians and police do what they can, community leaders say it’s up to the people living in the neighborhoods to step up and share what they know.
“There’s a misconception in our neighborhood that getting people off the streets that’s causing chaos and hurting us is called snitching. It’s not snitching. They need to get off our streets,” said Derek Perkinson of the National Action Network.
Nyla and Liam are two children enjoying the playground and know nothing about the shootings. Their mom Stephanie Castillo is a different story.
“Automatically I’m afraid, and I honestly don’t even know if I want to be here at this point,” she said. “I know that anything can happen at any time, anywhere so mostly just fear going through my body.”
The same goes for 8-year-old Ja’diya. Her shirt says “Fearless,” but that’s not how she’s feeling.
“Really uncomfortable?” Hsu asked.
“Yeah,” Ja’diya said.
She lives just a block away from the playground.
“I don’t want to be here. I don’t want to get shot by somebody,” she said.
“Did you hear about what’s happening?” Hsu asked.
“Yes,” she said.
Ja’diya is about to start third grade and now has a lot more on her mind than just growing up.