A 38-year-old man was killed and 11 others were shot and injured – many seriously – during an event near the Brownsville Playground in Brooklyn Saturday night.
CBS New York reported the shooting occurred during an “old timers week” event near the playground. The New York Times reported that hundreds had gathered to attend the event. It is still unclear what started the attack or what the motive was.
Community activist Michael Thomas told CBS that attendees at first thought they heard firecrackers, not gunshots.
“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,” he said.
The man who died had been shot in the head; at least six others who were taken to area hospitals were seriously injured.
Footage circulating online after the attack showed police attempting to control the scene.
The attack occurred shortly be 11 p.m. New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio tweeted sympathy for the victims and vowed to “do everything in our power” to stop gun violence.
“We had a terrible shooting in Brownsville tonight that shattered a peaceful neighborhood event. Our hearts go out to the victims,” de Blasio tweeted. “We will do everything in our power to keep this community safe and get guns off our streets.”
New York City has some of the toughest gun laws in the country and is one of the toughest states in the country to even obtain a firearm. Residents must be 21 years of age or older and must fill out a 17-page documents to apply for a handgun license. There’s also a 13-page application to obtain a rifle or shotgun permit. The applications require multiple forms of identification including photographs, a social security card, a state driver’s license and often an income tax return or utilities bill. Applications cost $340 for a handgun, $140 for a rifle or shotgun. Applicants must also pay $90 for fingerprinting.
Applicants are then interviewed and a background check is performed. On top of that, there are different licenses for different firearm uses.
As the Times reported, the section of east Brooklyn where the attack occurred, Brownsville, had seen declining crime even as northern Brooklyn saw an increase. Brownsville previously had been one of the more dangerous parts of the city, but that had declined since the previous year.