NEW YORK (CBSNewYork) — The parents of the two children who were used as shields in a shooting in the Bronx last week spoke out Wednesday at an NYPD block party in their neighborhood.
Chief of Department Rodney Harrison insisted investigators are very close to making an arrest in this case. But with the shooter still at large and gun violence surging in the neighborhood and across the city, the police held the event to help kids feel safe outside their homes, CBS2’s Ali Bauman reported.READ MORE: Brian Laundrie's Remains Found In Florida Nature Reserve, Officials Say
There were games and giveaways on Sheridan Avenue in the Mount Eden section of the borough, and at the center of the party were the 5-year-old boy and his 13-year-old sister, who are lucky to be alive.
In Spanish, their mother said, “We are nervous. We are frightened. This has been a very difficult time. We want children to feel secure because they are the future … We are human beings. We don’t want another mother to suffer what we are suffering.”
“This young lady that is standing behind me today is an absolutely hero. As she stood on top of her younger brother and made sure he did not get struck by a bullet that day,” Harrison said.
Police are still searching for the gunman.
“We’ve moved a lot of resources into the Bronx, both on straight time, as well as overtime,” NYPD Commissioner Dermot Shea said.
The NYPD hosted Wednesday’s block party with the hope of encouraging families to feel safe on their streets.
Residents who were out enjoying the block party said they are thankful but disappointed this attention did not come sooner.READ MORE: Man Taken Into Custody After Shooting Just Steps Away From Bronx School
“I think this is a good thing, but it should’ve happened before something negative happened,” Wanda Green said.
“Better late than never. See all our kids out here now? Ain’t nobody shooting out here now,” Tanisha Lee added.
Shootings are up 53.2% citywide compared to this time last year, and up 89.7% in the Bronx.
“We have to hold people accountable that are carrying illegal firearms. I need for that to be the message from today,” Harrison said.
The kids’ father said, “I want to call on the president of the United States, Congress, the Senate, to please see what can be done with the weapons on the streets, with the violence, because today my family was the victim of violence and I don’t want to see another family suffering the way my family is suffering.”
At the same time in Washington, the president laid out his plan to combat gun violence with the formation of five new law enforcement “Strike Forces” to crack down on firearm trafficking and a new zero tolerance policy allowing the ATF to swiftly revoke licenses from gun dealers who violate federal laws.
“If you willfully sell a gun to someone who is prohibited from possessing it … we will find you and we will seek your license to sell guns,” President Joe Biden said.
The administration also says the Treasury Department will allow hard-hit communities to use federal COVID relief funds to hire more police officers and pay overtime.
Back in the Bronx, the children’s parents also thanked their neighbors and police for all the support they have received over the last few days. The NYPD said detectives have collected a massive amount of evidence in the case and have identified a person of interest, so they are confident there will be an arrest soon.MORE NEWS: Paterson Youth Football Team Gets $10,000 Gift From New York Giants, Dunkin' Donuts
Anyone who has information regarding this incident 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.