2 Children Out Walking Get Caught Between a Gunman and His Target

2 Children Out Walking Get Caught Between a Gunman and His Target

Gunfire erupts on a Bronx sidewalk, and several passers-by, including a 5-year-old boy and his 10-year-old sister, rush toward a bodega’s entrance for shelter. But the children collide with a man who is also racing for cover, and all three fall to the pavement before finding safety.

As they tumble down together, the children at one point are lying directly between the man, the gunman’s obvious target, and the gunman himself, who continues firing at close range.

The girl yanks her brother’s wrist, pulling him to the ground and wrapping him in her chest as his left shoe comes off in the commotion. After about eight seconds, the gunman sprints off.

Amazingly, the harrowing scene, captured on surveillance video, ended without either of the children being hurt and the 24-year-old man they were tangled up with in stable condition and expected to survive after being shot in the back and both legs, the police said.

Still, the episode was a vivid example of how even the most innocent New Yorkers can suddenly get caught in the crossfire of a recent surge in shootings that has plagued some city neighborhoods and helped make crime a dominant issue in this year’s mayoral race.

Just over a week before the Bronx shooting shown in the video, in the Claremont section on Thursday evening, a 10-year-old Queens boy was fatally shot while leaving an aunt’s house in the Rockaways. In May, a 4-year-old girl was among several people shot in Times Square.

Cities of all sizes across the United States are confronting increases in gun violence that began amid the pandemic and have persisted through the first half of this year. In New York, 721 people had been shot as of June 13, the most to that point in the year since 2002, Police Department statistics show.

The spike comes after a period during which violent crime in the city fell to its lowest levels in more than six decades, with the raw numbers still well below both what some smaller cities have recorded and New York’s own peak levels of the 1980s and ’90s.

The city’s overall crime rate — which is based on seven major crimes, including murder, assault and rape — is also the lowest it has been in several decades, thanks largely to declines in reported burglaries and robberies.

The rise in gun violence in New York has mostly been concentrated in a few parts of the city, including the Bronx neighborhood where the shooting on Thursday occurred.

The area falls in the 44th Precinct, which, in addition to Claremont, covers parts of the Concourse and Highbridge sections and other slices of the southwest Bronx. The precinct had recorded 41 shootings as of June 13, compared with 13 in the same period in 2020, police data shows. Over the past decade, the number has rarely topped 20 by that date.

“This is a good neighborhood,” Ante Rodriguez, a home health care aide who lives on the block where the shooting happened, said Friday evening. “You can see that everybody knows each other.”

But Mr. Rodriguez, 20, also said he was aware there had been an uptick in shootings in the area.

“I’ve seen shootouts before,” he said. “I’ve been shot at myself.”

The two children, whom the police did not identify beyond their ages and saying they were siblings, were walking on the sidewalk when the shooting began near a storefront tucked between apartment buildings on Sheridan Avenue, officials said. They were not related to the man who was shot, the police said.

After the gunman finished firing, he jumped onto a waiting scooter being driven by a second man and the two left the area, the police said. No arrests had been made as of Friday evening.

Experts and city officials are watching closely to determine whether shootings continue at their current pace through the summer and whether the recent spike is a blip or a harbinger of a long-term trend.

The latest weekly figures have begun to more closely resemble last year’s, police data shows, which gun-violence experts noted could suggest that things were not worsening, but also not getting better. They warned, however, that it was too early to draw solid conclusions.

On Friday evening, the block where the shooting occurred had returned to a calmer pace: Children were playing on the sidewalk, watched by adults who were sitting on their front steps as others stood and talked nearby.

Some residents were nonetheless shaken by the video footage.

Noriann Rosado, 45, said she had moved to a new apartment on the block this week, picking up her keys three days ago and starting to bring her belongings over on Thursday. She said that she became aware of the shooting only after seeing it on an Instagram post but that it worried her.

“They said it was a good building,” Ms. Rosado said. Now, though, she added, she had begun to wonder about the neighborhood. “I don’t feel OK.”

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