The Queensbridge community is growing tired of the gunshots, the funerals and police tape.
In the latest incident of violence, on Saturday, Feb. 2, Francisco Leal, 27, was walking out of a grocery store near the corner of 21st Street and 41st Avenue when he was shot in the chest. Leal was taken to Mount Sinai Hospital of Queens where he was pronounced dead on arrival.
Police have released surveillance video footage of a person wanted for questioning in an effort to find his killer.
Last week, Community activists and elected officials stood outside of the grocery store where Leal was fatally wounded, located across the street from the Queensbridge Houses, and called for an end to the violence.
“We should never get use to gun violence,” said Councilman Jimmy Van Bramer, standing just feet from where the murder occurred. “We should never accept that as a way of life. We need the city to invest in schools, libraries and afterschool programs and make sure that guns are kept out of the hands of criminals.”
State Senator Michael Gianaris discussed new gun control laws giving New York some of the toughest gun laws in the nation, but said more needs to be done.
“Saturday’s shooting proves that we must continue to get tough with those who have no regard for our laws or for others’ lives,” he said.
Following the event, Suga Ray, a friend of Leal’s and an anti-gun activist, walked half a block to a construction site, where t-shirts paying homage to Leal were stapled to the plywood fence.
In red, one individual warns the shooter that Leal’s mother will be after them and that the violence needs to end. Ray said that he had not been in contact with Leal’s family since the shooting, but said he has heard they are taking his death very hard
Ray said that Leal was very dedicated to making music and working to support his family. He called the violence disheartening.
“It happens so much and it happens to my friends personally that it’s heartbreaking,” Ray said.
Ray said that the Queensbrige community needs to learn how to “channel our anger through art.” Ray is trying to make that happen as he mentors and works with organizations teaching the youth of Queensbridge the importance of an alternative to violence when it comes to conflict resolution.
“We have to not express frustration with violence,” he said.