Southern Brooklyn

Second Fatal Shooting In Two Days Spurs Community To Search For End To Gun Violence In Coney Island

Mathylde Frontus led the meeting at the Urban Neighborhood Services

by Steven Volynets

Following the second fatal shooting in as many days, Coney Island residents and local leaders met at the Urban Neighborhood Services (UNS) office (1718 Mermaid Avenue) on Friday to voice concern over the growing number of gun deaths in the area.

On Christmas Eve, 17-year-old Yaquin English was shot to death in front of his home in the Gravesend Houses at 3144 Bay View Avenue. Just two days later, a man was shot dead on Thursday inside a Coney Island high-rise building on West 27th Street and Surf Avenue.

Shawn White, 25, was found on the fourth floor stairwell with several gunshot wounds to the head, torso and leg at approximately 9:30 p.m. First responders pronounced the victim dead on arrival, according to the NYPD.

Shawn White was found shot to death on Thursday in a building at West 27th Street and Surf Avenue. (Source: Google Maps)
Shawn White was found shot to death on Thursday in a building at West 27th Street and Surf Avenue. (Source: Google Maps)

The spate of deadly shootings has left community members grappling for an effective response to the violence, which UNS noted seemed concentrated in public housing.

Community members, including parents, a teacher and local clergy, discussed drafting a letter to local officials calling for more cameras and greater police presence throughout Coney Island neighborhoods.

“What can we ask of our State Senator Diane Savino? What can we ask of our Congressman Hakeem Jeffries?” said UNS Director Mathylde Frontus, who organized the event. Congressman Jeffries’s representative Lee Church and Victoria Lynch, president of Coney Island Site 8 Residents Association, attended the meeting.

Gravesend Houses, where Yaquin English was shot to death on Christmas Eve (Source: Google Maps)

Also present, Rhonda Brown Moore, board member of Man Up, a Brownsville-based neighborhood improvement organization, said Coney Island could benefit from one of their anti-violence programs.

“We have men in vans patrolling the neighborhood in the middle of the night, talking to some of the people doing the shootings,” Moore said.

Frontus also stressed greater involvement of local business owners and corporate interests.

“A lot of money is hovering over us, but nothing is trickling down to the community,” she said. That money, she added, could fund programs like Man Up, as well as art, music and sports activities for Coney Island youth.

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Comment policy


  1. Hold up didnt NY pass the SAFE act? That was supposed to stop all these bad guys from shooting each other. I hope none of them put more than 7 bullets in the magazine that would be a felony.

  2. Stop and frisk comes under attack, and the community has to wonder why all the gun violence is up? You reap what you sow.

  3. I’m still trying to understand why anyone is addressing this ‘crisis’ to anyone who isn’t a parent! Who’s shooting whom? Where are they getting the guns from? The bullets? The desire to shoot another human being? Who is teaching them a sense of morality? (and no, it’s not a school teachers job to do that).
    Frontus wants the local business owners to be involved? Are they now responsible for someone else’s lack of parenting? Money and corporate involvement? Sound and fury…..

    When do the parents become responsible for the thing that they’ve created? That lump of anger filled, despair ridden, no sense of humanity so called human that can kill without empathy. Are we as a society ever going to be allowed to hold the person who birthed this problem accountable? After all, who really is at fault if not the parent?

  4. Wow, you blew me away. I can’t for the life of me figure it out. There has been households with 2 working parent forever. There has been lack of things to do and places to go for youngsters…that is affordable or free on a daily basis for sometime and in some neighborhoods, never. . And then there are things like those video games where they blow each other up….run through corridors with a sub machine gun killing anyone and anything in their path. Maybe those kids are coming of age? The disregard for life and living like there is no tomorrow to answer for comes from environment.
    Holding responsible a guardian is good in the eyes of law, it is not solving the problem. IMO

  5. No, it was supposed to stop them from buying guns legally. If gun shops enforced the background check thoroughly they would go out of business..

  6. Do you know how or where these guns came from? How do you know how many and which gun stores are not following the law? You think criminals on the streets of Coney Island are buiying guns from stores? You really have no idea what you are talking about.

  7. Guardian? No, I clearly wrote ‘parent’. And I meant parent. As in, you gave birth to him/her, then it’s clearly your responsibility to shape this new being into some one who will be part of society (the ideal situation). Can’t do that….. Then perhaps consider birth control. A pill, a condom, diaphragm, no sex. If that’s not good enough, adoption and abortion are still options as well.
    Lack of things to do…. No, not really. All it takes is motivation. And of course someone to tell them what there is to do. (ex) Read a book. Learn how to read a book. Join a group that promotes physical activities. Too many to list and I don’t feel like I have to anyway.
    I don’t blame movies and/or video games. *I* think that humans know that they are not real, and that these things do not translate into real life. (a new Twinkie defense)?
    Environment…. No, don’t buy that either. I’m a child of the 70/80’s; grew up riding the subway, teasing the hookers in Times Square, remember when Brighton Beach was a place no one wanted to walk thru day or night…. and so on. Brighton and Coney and to some extent even Sheepshead Bay were not the shiny happy places that they are today.
    Yes, I do think that holding parents or whoever is responsible for these kids is the way to go. Monetary fines, losing your public benefits, jail time. Tangible consequences for the very people who are shrugging their shoulders and blowing off the very problem that they self perpetuate.
    Didn’t intent to be so long winded…. guess I was a little more perturbed then I thought.

  8. My first sentence in answer to your first two sentences is exactly right. maybe YOU do not know what the law states…..Ultimately ALL guns come from stores. The process of where they turn up is the problem. Not too many people buy direct from the manufacturer in these situations. .

  9. So you are saying no one should be allowed to buy guns because criminals can get their hands on them. What if these guns were purchased legally and then stolen? Im sure there are gun stores that sell guns illegally but again they are breaking the law just like any other business that opens up as a front for illegal purposes (pharmacies, med offices). I was pointing out how ridiculous the SAFE act is. The only people that it covers are the law abiding. Criminals dont follow the law and guns are never going away no matter how bad anyone wants them to. So why make it harder for good people to get them when criminals can get them anywhere and anytime they want?

  10. […] the Zillion] Which neighborhoods had the biggest increase in murders this year? [Runnin' Scared] There were a couple more to tack on in Coney Island for the year-end total [Sheepshead Bites] Enormous Downtown tower gets funding [Crain's] De Blasio is also doing a […]

  11. For someone who usually misconstrues what has been said by me I am not surprised. I never said no one should buy guns. Proper screening and a required history..past, present and future of the fire arm should be a matter of record. Joe Shmoe can buy a gun, Not every person who would use a gun to cause harm has a record.
    The gun control laws are changing. It has already been written. Now, with your replies to my comment I feel you are just acting trolley. Let’s agree… we disagree.

  12. I used to think that we needed background checks but now realize they are not needed at all. If a bad person wants to do harm to others a background check wont stop them. This article is not about guns its about people doing bad things. We have serious drug and economic issues that lead to violence in the streets. Most murders and crime happen in bad areas all over the country and its done by gangbangers. Yes you are going to get a random road rage incident or domestic shooting but thats not where “gun violence” comes from. Making it harder for a law abiding citizen to purchase a firearm will never prevent street gangs from doing what they do. Point being the only people who go through the process of purchasing a firearm the right way are not the people we need to be worried about. Theres also no reason for anyone to know what i own or keep in my home especially a bunch of politicians. Happy new year.

  13. I agree, but you can not turn New York into Texas. If the gun ratio in New York were to match these other state the morgue would be full. there is a different lifestyle in those states.
    And all the more reason gun laws need to enforced throughout the states. In the early 70’s I remember a legal gun was just a looong train Ride away.

  14. […] Through her organization, Frontus has helped thousands beat the odds of poverty by offering mental health services, financial literacy, job and housing services, and more. Frontus is also the founding and acting chair of the Coney Island Anti-Violence Collaborative, a community coalition which works to reduce gun violence in the neighborhood. […]


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