An emotional father’s plea after losing 1-year-old to gun violence: ‘This has to stop’

STATEN ISLAND, N.Y. — The NYPD on Monday launched its first installment of a week-long effort aimed at remembering those lost to recent violence in New York City. The first video testimony was delivered by Da’Vell Gardner, whose 1-year-old son was tragically killed in Brooklyn after being shot in the […]

STATEN ISLAND, N.Y. — The NYPD on Monday launched its first installment of a week-long effort aimed at remembering those lost to recent violence in New York City.

The first video testimony was delivered by Da’Vell Gardner, whose 1-year-old son was tragically killed in Brooklyn after being shot in the stomach this summer.

“I was just living a nightmare and I couldn’t wake up, I just felt lost, I was in a dark place,” an emotional Gardner said in the video. “I lost my first-born … my baby boy.”

“This has to stop,” he said. “It has to.”

The department will release a testimonial each day this week leading to a Friday ceremony organized by NYPD Chief of Community Affairs Jeffrey Maddrey that will gather survivors and honor the memories of those lost.

“Together with all of our city’s communities, we are working hard every day to put all of our combined energy into stopping crime, protecting lives and promoting healing,” said Maddrey, who attended the Stapleton “Stop the Violence” town hall held in August. “This week, as people across the country pause to reflect on the toll that gun violence has wrought, we reinforce our commitment to the values we share with all we serve: Safety, fairness, opportunity, compassion and strength.”

Gun violence this year has significantly increased compared to 2019. NYPD data show a 93.1% increase of shootings citywide and a 102.7% increase in shooting victims through Sept. 13 compared to the same period last year.

Staten Island has seen similar levels of increase.

“Each person impacted by murder carries a powerful message: We can never stop fighting the scourge of illegal guns, shootings and crime in our streets,” said Police Commissioner Dermot Shea. “The NYPD is here every day with all of our communities, standing together for a safe and just society.”

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