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Hempstead street renamed in honor of Dejah Joyner

A portion of Dartmouth Street in Hempstead, between

A portion of Dartmouth Street in Hempstead, between James L.L. Burrell and Remsen avenues, was renamed Dejah Joyner Street in honor of the slain 12-year-old girl on Wednesday, Dec. 23, 2015. The sign was placed outside Antioch Baptist Church on the same block as her family's former home. Credit: Uli Seit

Hempstead Village officials returned Wednesday to a neighborhood marred by violence to rename a street for Dejah Joyner, the 12-year-old girl killed by a stray bullet fired into her home.

Dejah’s family joined Hempstead Mayor Wayne J. Hall Sr., village and town leaders and police to add a sign to a block of Dartmouth Street, between James L.L. Burrell and Remsen avenues, renamed Dejah Joyner Street.

The sign was placed outside Antioch Baptist Church on the same block as the Joyner family’s former home.

“We remain outraged that an innocent young girl was taken from this world,” Hall said. “Violence like this tears apart our community. She represents everything right in this world, and her murder represents the exact opposite.”

Dejah’s killing remains unsolved more than two months after she was shot in the head Oct. 18 by someone police suspect had gang ties.

The community has rallied around Joyner’s family and begged for a witness or someone with knowledge of the crime to come forward. A $75,000 reward has been offered for information that leads to an arrest.

Hempstead Police Chief Michael McGowan said police are working with Nassau County homicide detectives to identify the killer.

Dejah’s great-grandmother, Dolores Joyner, said the family has grown frustrated as the investigation has dragged on. “I feel very bad. I wish someone would come forward,” she said.

Nassau County officials and Hempstead Town Councilwoman Dorothy Goosby said the street would help honor Dejah’s memory. Goosby knew Dejah as a Girl Scout and said she hopes the street serves as a reminder of the smiling, dancing girl. “I hope it will make a difference for young people and lead as a light for them,” Goosby said.

Hall said he hopes the street sign inspires someone to come forward to help solve a “senseless crime.”

“We still haven’t found the person who shot and took the life of this innocent girl, and we can’t let this person walk around and not face the consequences,” Hall said.

Village officials gathered later with school leaders and Nassau County Legis. Dennis Dunne (R-Levittown) to trade toys with children turning in toy guns. Hempstead police monitored the toy exchange at Kennedy Memorial Park to ensure no actual guns were surrendered.

Hall said the toy exchange was also geared at leading children away from a gun mentality as they age.

“So many guns look real, and we want to avoid the tragedy of an innocent child mistakenly shot,” Hempstead Deputy Chief Mark Matthews said.

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