The grieving family of 1-year-old Davell Gardner spoke out about their pain and loss Saturday at a rally of Rev. Al Sharpton’s National Action Network.
Two weeks after two men opened fire on a family cookout in Bedford-Stuyvesant, killing the baby boy, relatives mourned the senseless shooting and demanded justice.
“A young life was taken away. Why do innocent people have to be shot?” asked Samantha Gardner, the boy’s grandmother. “I have to go sit there and look at my grandson in a casket.”
Gardner also branded the killer “a coward” and called for witnesses to come forward.
The boy’s funeral is set for Monday.
Two men wearing black opened fire on the Gardners’ cookout on July 12 in Raymond Bush Playground . Davell Gardner, two months shy of his second birthday, was hit in the stomach by a bullet as he sat in his stroller. Three men were wounded.
Police have not made any arrests or revealed a possible motive in the shooting, one of a string of violent crimes as New York grapples with a summer spike in shootings and murders.
Sharpton consoled the family at the rally attended by dozens of supporters in Harlem. He was joined by Gwen Carr, the mom of police brutality victim Eric Garner.
“How’s a mother, or a father or a grandmother supposed to act when a 1-year-old child is killed?” Sharpton asked. “The least the community can do is put their arms around them and stand up and say that we got to stop this.”
Sharpton said the crime felt personal to him because he is also the grandfather of a 1-year-old baby.
The civil rights leader called on police to improve safety in black neighborhoods and said gun manufacturers need to be called to account for flooding the streets with dangerous weapons. But he also called on the community to demand peace from its own members who may be responsible for the crime wave.
“When you get down to 1-year-old babies killed in strollers, then that’s too much for any of us to ignore,” Sharpton said.
Community activist Mike Tucker made much the same point. His son was slain by an NYPD cop in 2005.
“We can’t be outraged when police kill us, (but not) when we kill each other as well,” Tucker said.
New York Knicks star Taj Gibson, who grew up in Brooklyn, donated funds to cover all funeral expenses for Davell’s family. Other well-wishers have also flooded them with donations.
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