Mayor Bill de Blasio said he was “heartbroken” over the violence in Brooklyn last night in which a 1-year-old boy was shot and killed at a playground. Credit: NYC Mayor's Office

A 1-year-old boy was among the victims of another weekend of New York City gun violence, and the mounting toll raised questions from some former NYPD brass about whether past law enforcement tactics should be revived to stem the bloodshed.

From Friday through Sunday, 28 shootings injured 45 victims, two of whom died from their wounds. One of them was Davell Gardner, the toddler who was struck in the abdomen late Sunday after two men began firing at a group of people attending a picnic at a park in the Bedford-Stuyvesant section.  

Three men were also struck by gunfire in that shooting and treated at local hospitals.  Police had made no arrests as of late Monday.

Mayor Bill de Blasio mourned the death of Davell during a news conference Monday and called for a moment of silence. The mayor then called for a doubling down on efforts by police, clergy and community groups to team together to try to halt the violence, which is at a pace to exceed last year’s shooting toll.

“It is not something we can look away from,” de Blasio said about the continuing violence. “It is something we have to address and stop."

“To wake up this morning and learn that a 1-year-old child was killed on the streets of our city by gunfire is just so painful,” de Blasio said.

This year through Sunday there have been 634 shootings in the city, a 61% increase over 2019, NYPD data shows. Victims now number 777, an increase of 70% over last year and a pace that could surpass 2019’s year-end total of 922 by the end of August. 

After violence on the July Fourth weekend, de Blasio made a renewed push for the longstanding Cure Violence movement and efforts to have clergy and community leaders congregate at crime hot spots in Harlem and elsewhere to stem the gunfire.

Some former high-ranking NYPD officials, in interviews with Newsday, said large gang takedowns in coorperation with the FBI were successful in the past and also questioned whether NYPD commissioner Dermot Shea erred when he disbanded the anti-crime units that targeted guns. Shea halted the units in part to prevent cops from being drawn into shootings.

De Blasio on Monday defended Shea’s decision, saying police could use technology and other methods to stop the gun trafficking and not disrupt police-community relations. Such units were sometimes accused of improper stop-and-frisk searches.

The former officials said the department gained its greatest success in reducing gun violence through the series of high-profile gang takedowns with the FBI and federal prosecutors from 2015 to 2017, a year in which shootings dropped to a record low of 790. 

One of the architects of the joint police-FBI strategy was former NYPD chief of detectives Robert Boyce, who said Monday the effort accounted for 100 gang takedowns involving more than 1,000 arrests.

“This is something we have to go back to,” Boyce said.

An NYPD spokesman declined to comment on Boyce’s remarks Monday.

Local district attorneys in New York City do carry out their down gang takedowns. But according to Boyce, the threat of a federal prosecution and severe racketeering sentences often convinced gang members to cooperate.

Suspects convicted and sent to federal prison are incarcerated far away from the metropolitan area, preventing them from communicating with associates still on the street, Boyce said.

Latest Videos