[UPDATE: Monday, July 29, 2019 at 11:35am] The deceased victim was identified by police as Jason Pagan, who was the intended target of the shooters. According to the New York Post, he is a recently paroled member of the reputed Bloods gang and had an extensive police record.
BROWNSVILLE – Residents of Brownsville are outraged after two or more gunmen shot up the Brownsville Old Timers Festival Saturday night, killing a 38-year-old man and wounding 11 others, police officials said.
Community leaders joined Mayor Bill de Blasio to condemn the violence and the mayor vowed that the killers will be “brought to justice.”
“We will do everything in our power to keep this community safe and get guns off our streets,” de Blasio said, while flanked by NYPD Police Commissioner James O’Neill and numerous community leaders. He said there were more than 100 police officers on site of the festival, but the shooting still occurred.
Pandemonium wracked the festival on Hegeman Avenue at about 10:40 p.m. in the Brownsville playground area of Mendoza Park of the food and music festival, sending residents including many women and children, screaming and running for their lives.
Numerous police officers were on-site at the festival, many of them ducking for cover as bullets flew in all directions.
Both Brookdale Medical Center and Kings County Hospital were busy with ambulances and police cars racing to emergency rooms with the wounded, including one child and several women. A 38-year-old man was being given CPR as he was wheeled into Brookdale Medical Center with a bullet to the head, but he did not survive.
About 100 police officers were already covering the event and were on the scene, shuttling the wounded to hospitals. One police officer said, “it was just chaos all of a sudden and everyone was running. You didn’t know which way the shooters were going because everyone was running.”
Police recovered a loaded handgun after the melee, but it is unclear if that is a gun used in the attack. Police say they are seeking two individuals in connection with the shooting. Robert Marks, 32, said he was shocked by the violence at the normally peaceful celebration.
“Everyone partying, hanging and then a bunch of kids came from Rockaway Avenue, down Hegeman Avenue, and then started shooting and then ran off,” Marks said. “The cops didn’t catch anyone – they were very unorganized – they didn’t know where to go or what to do. Old Timers Day is a celebration of people who got to retire and they come out to enjoy – this celebration happens every year, and nothing ever happens like this.”
Daniel Goodine, a former band leader and instructor at Boys and Girls High School said that a few people ruined “a celebration of the neighborhood.”
“All the guys that lived here, many are athletes Mike Tyson, rappers, plenty of people all come back here to celebrate – terrible,” Goodine said. “All we do is talk about living together and make change. But the things I’m hearing in the neighborhood right now is not good. We had a program for men of purpose and went to school – we are living together here and the neighborhood is changing, but the kids are not seeing change.”
Borough President Eric Adams was joined by community activist Tony Herbert in a separate press conference from the mayor, where they condemned the violence. Adams called on gun violence to be classified as a “public health emergency,” which he said would divert needed funds towards clamping down on violence and doing outreach to stop those intent on violence – and get them help before they go down the wrong path.”
Herbert said, “I am tired of seeing people killed in gun violence.”
Brownsville is an east Brooklyn neighborhood that’s continued to struggle with gun violence, even as New York streets become safer than they have been in decades.
Dr. Burchell Aurscon has been coming to the Old Timers Festival for many years and “I’ve never seen anything like this and it has been going for over 60 years.” He said they have had entertainers like the OJ’s and other big acts and never saw violence.
“I was standing with three other officers at the recreation center and then we heard the first shot looked over and then a succession of rapid shots – you can see the fire from the gun and we realized people were being shot,” Burchell said. “We ran over there and we saw people laying on ground, people running with bullet wounds in them.”
One older man continued packing up cooking utensils and leftovers after the shooting. He refused to give his name, but he said he was angry about the violence.
“It sounded like firecrackers but then you could see it wasn’t anything, there was a lot of people here, women and children, it just wasn’t necessary and it ruins it for everyone,” he said.
By midnight, detectives had found one abandoned firearm in a handbag and were combing the ground with flashlights for more evidence among hundreds of scattered beer bottles, cans, cups and other debris. The search for evidence continued into the morning.
The party is in its 56th year and features concerts, food and exhibitions.
Not far from this shooting, a man was shot in the head at about 2 a.m. in Canarsie on Avenue K in the 69th Precinct. He was rushed to Kings County Hospital where he was pronounced dead. It was unclear whether the shootings were related. Police believe the violence may be linked to previous shootings between rival gangs.
Anyone with information on this and any other shooting from this evening may call CrimeStoppers hotline at 1-800-577-tips. All calls are kept confidential.