NEW YORK (CBSNewYork) — A shooting at a Brooklyn playground left one person dead and 11 others injured Saturday night.
It happened just before 11 p.m. inside the playground area of the Brownsville Recreational Center at the intersection of Christopher and Hegeman avenues.
About 2,000 people were in the area for the neighborhood’s annual “OldTimers” event. The event was coming to a close when the shooting occurred.
According to NYPD Assistant Chief Jeffrey Maddrey, a total of seven men and five women were struck by gunfire. The victims ranged in age from 21 to 55.
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Deniesa Murdaugh was one of the victims. She told of her ordeal to CBS2’s Tara Jakeway.
“When we turned around to run I heard two shots go off and I was hit in my back,” Murdaugh said. “I was on the floor panicking. I couldn’t breathe. Everyone was surrounding me. My heart was racing. I was feeling faint. I couldn’t stand up.”
The 21-year-old said she was dancing with friends at the celebration when chaos ensued.
“Why? What was that day that you had to put others’ lives in danger? Babies, pregnant people, old people, Murdaugh said.
Murdaugh’s mother said she could have been killed, if it wasn’t for her clothes.
“The thickness of the bra line, the bullet was caught there, so when the EMS unsnapped her bra the bullet fell off,” she said.
One victim, a 38-year-old man, was pronounced dead at Brookdale Hospital. His identity has not yet been released. Maddrey said Sunday that another victim is in very critical condition and is “fighting for his life.”
No arrests have been made in the case at this time.
Michael Kemper, the NYPD deputy chief, said evidence has been collected and is being processed. One weapon was recovered.
Authorities said based on witness statements and ballistic evidence, they believe there were “no less than two shooters and two guns.”
Police commissioner James O’Neill said they are looking into the possibility that the shooting may have been gang-related, saying that has been the motive for about half of past recorded shootings and incidents of violence in that precinct. He also asked the public for its assistance in the investigation.
“If anyone has any video before the event, during the event before the shooting, during the shooting or maybe after the shooting, please turn that over to us,” O’Neill said.
Brownsville’s Old Timer’s event takes place during the last week of July every year. It includes live performances, music and entertainment.
Maddrey said about 5,000 people attended the event on Friday night and there were no incidents.
“I want to make really clear this tragedy does not define Brownsville, does not define the people of Brownsville, does not define what’s happening on the ground in a community that has worked so hard and come so far,” Mayor Bill de Blasio said.
“It was a tragic ending to a wonderful weekend. We’re going to continue on. This event will be held next year, and we always learn,” O’Neill added.
Community activists and leaders spoke out about the shooting Sunday afternoon.
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Public Advocate Jumaane D. Williams issued the following statement:
“Last night, a beloved Brooklyn community celebration was devastated by horrific gun violence, and this morning, the city stands and grieves with the community. I offer my prayers for peace and comfort to the family of the man killed in last night’s shooting, and to all those wounded- that they may recover quickly and fully.
“The plague of gun violence that infects our city and our nation is devastating and pervasive. Our country experiences a mass shooting nearly every day, although it doesn’t always make the headlines. And the acts of gun violence occurring daily on the streets are themselves one continuous mass shooting.
“Every act of violence is a tragedy, each loss heartbreaking. We cannot become numb to that pain or to the incidents that cause it, we must meet each with strength, resolve, and action toward preventing the next. These shootings may be frequent, but they can never be normal.”
Officials said there were about 100 police officers present at the event when the shooting happened. None of them were harmed.
“We all thought it was firecrackers because, you know, you felt so safe with police presence here. Who’s going to think this is gunfire at an event like this? And then when you start seeing the crowd running and screaming, then that’s when everything clicked on that, you know, that this is gunfire, so the first thing you’re looking for is cover,” community activist Michael Thomas said.
Anyone with photos or videos taken before, during or after the shooting is asked to call the NYPD’s Crime Stoppers Hotline at 1-800-577-8477 or for Spanish, 1-888-577-4782. Tips can also be sent to the NYPDTips Twitter account or submitted online at NYPDCrimeStoppers.com.