by Steven Volynets
Following the second fatal shooting in as many days, Coney Island residents and local leaders met at the Urban Neighborhood Services (UNS) office (1718 Mermaid Avenue) on Friday to voice concern over the growing number of gun deaths in the area.
On Christmas Eve, 17-year-old Yaquin English was shot to death in front of his home in the Gravesend Houses at 3144 Bay View Avenue. Just two days later, a man was shot dead on Thursday inside a Coney Island high-rise building on West 27th Street and Surf Avenue.
Shawn White, 25, was found on the fourth floor stairwell with several gunshot wounds to the head, torso and leg at approximately 9:30 p.m. First responders pronounced the victim dead on arrival, according to the NYPD.
The spate of deadly shootings has left community members grappling for an effective response to the violence, which UNS noted seemed concentrated in public housing.
Community members, including parents, a teacher and local clergy, discussed drafting a letter to local officials calling for more cameras and greater police presence throughout Coney Island neighborhoods.
“What can we ask of our State Senator Diane Savino? What can we ask of our Congressman Hakeem Jeffries?” said UNS Director Mathylde Frontus, who organized the event. Congressman Jeffries’s representative Lee Church and Victoria Lynch, president of Coney Island Site 8 Residents Association, attended the meeting.
Also present, Rhonda Brown Moore, board member of Man Up, a Brownsville-based neighborhood improvement organization, said Coney Island could benefit from one of their anti-violence programs.
“We have men in vans patrolling the neighborhood in the middle of the night, talking to some of the people doing the shootings,” Moore said.
Frontus also stressed greater involvement of local business owners and corporate interests.
“A lot of money is hovering over us, but nothing is trickling down to the community,” she said. That money, she added, could fund programs like Man Up, as well as art, music and sports activities for Coney Island youth.