Weekend Violence Sparks Debate on Gun Control Laws

A rare amount of gun violence over Labor Day weekend ended with an innocent bystander killed and two police officers wounded during a firefight between the NYPD and a criminal suspect on Monday night.

Leroy Webster and Eusi Johnson began fighting in Crown Heights, Brooklyn on Monday night, and for unknown reasons, Webster shot Johnson. When police arrived, Webster began shooting at the officers before being critically wounded. Police said 73 shots were fired, two of which hit Webster.

One of the stray bullets, believed to have been fired by Webster, fatally struck Denise Gay, 56, in the head. Gay, a Crown Heights native, was sitting on her steps when the gun fight began.

“She was well known on this block,” Gay’s cousin Victoria told the New York Times. “You could say her name and people know exactly who she is, what she stood for. She was an awesome person with an awesome spirit.”

Two officers were also injured. Officer Omar Medina, 36, a member of the of NYPD for almost eight years, was struck by bullet fragments in his left arm and chest. He was taken to Brookdale Hospital and is in stable condition.

Officer Avichaim Dicken from the 79th Precinct, also with the NYPD for almost eight years, was grazed by a bullet over his left elbow. He was taken to Methodist Hospital and is in stable condition.

The incident was unfortunately one of many acts of violence to occur over the weekend. From Friday to Monday, there were 52 separate shootings in the city. However, Police Commissioner Ray Kelly noted that shootings were still down in the city so far this year.

Some of the violence centered around the West Indian Day Parade in Brooklyn on Monday. However, there were many other isolated incidents throughout the city. Over the past week, 100 people were shot—twice as many as the same week last year.

Mayor Michael Bloomberg used the unusual amount of violence over the weekend to call on stricter federal gun regulations. “Here in New York City, the last four years have been the four safest in the city’s history, in part because we have taken unprecedented steps to stem the flow of illegal guns onto our streets. But we cannot do it alone,” he said in a press briefing on early Tuesday morning about the death of Gay and the injuries to the police officers.

“This is a national problem requiring national leadership, but at the moment neither end of Pennsylvania Avenue has had the courage to take basic steps that would save lives,” Bloomberg continued.

Bloomberg also scored a victory in court on Wednesday when a federal court upheld a state law that places restrictions on concealed handguns.

“Today’s ruling affirms what the Supreme Court has already decided: governments at all levels can enact reasonable laws to keep the public safe by keeping guns out of the hands of dangerous people,” Bloomberg said in a statement about the court’s decision. “The tragic shootings we have seen in recent days underscore the responsibility we have to keep fighting to protect our police officers and citizens, which can be done while respecting the second amendment.”

By Eric Yun


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