Neighbors React to Park Place Shooting

Friends and neighbors of victims Eusi Johnson and Denise Gay speak out.

Last night’s , as well as two police officers injured, seems to be all that anyone is talking about in the neighborhood today. Swarms of news vans are still surrounding the closed off blocks of Franklin Avenue between St. Marks Place and Sterling Place, with officers keeping the public back.

Outside of his building on Park Place, neighbor William Velez had come out to see if the police officers had taken down the yellow tape that closed off the rest of the block.

“I was right here when it happened,” Velez said. “I heard the first gunshot, and then there were about 20 more. The cops came in from either side [of the block].”

Velez said he knew Denise Gay, a 56-year-old retiree who was sitting on her Park Place stoop with her 13-year-old daughter when a stray bullet from 32-year-old shooter Leroy Webster’s gun struck her in the head. Gay was pronounced dead at the scene.

“[The daughter] was right in front of the stoop when her mother died,” said Velez, shaking his head. “Who’s going to provide for her now?”

Velez called the incident a “wake-up call,” after living on what he thought was a “quiet block” for 47 years. He blames the crowds that flock to the West Indian Day Parade.

“If you’re letting them drink Friday to Monday, this is what happens,” said Velez.

A neighbor in the same building, who declined to give her name, said she had known Johnson since she was 7-years-old, and Gay since she was 8. According to her, Webster had moved to the block eight days prior.

“I saw everything,” she said. “The guy just kept going ‘pop pop pop pop’ [with his gun] down the street. I was sitting on my fire escape watching everything; it was like a movie.”

“All I can see is his body, just lying there. I’m thinking, ‘This is not real,’” said the neighbor, still shaken from last night’s incident.

“That was my heart,” she said, referring to Johnson. “[Webster] shot my heart.”

GMCM September 06, 2011 at 06:46 PM
Don't get it twisted - The Parade ended at 6pm - this horrific crime happened at 9pm - This incident had nothing to do with the West Indian Day Parade – and should not be reported as a result of poor judgment by anyone except the shooter who lived 4 blocks away. As usual people get confused when they are interviewed by the media - for 15 minutes of fame - you sold out the parade committee who did a great job as usual trying to abide by the law and provide a weekend full of cultural events. This was an isolated incident with a person from outside of our neighborhood - which is commonin urban areas. It is a quiet neighborhood and the business owners & residents have been working for years to keep the neighborhood lucrative and safe for our families. It is wrong to use this tragic incident to paint the entire neighborhood and its longtime residents as people who use bad judgment. We will join with the families who have been destroyed - an look forward to next year's Parade.
Sdny September 07, 2011 at 02:52 AM
GMCM Are you serious? Who are you kidding? Isolated incident? There were a reported 67 people shot last weekend. Early in the day Monday 4 people were shot including a 15 yr old boy. City councilman, Jumaane D. Williams was detained after getting into a confrontation with police after the parade. Monday morning 4 more people were shot and a 17 yr old shot dead. I personally knew one of the victims shot dead in this nonsense and I can't tell you how sick I am of Black people killing our own Black people over stupidity. ACTING LIKE ANIMALS THEN HAVING THE NERVE TO GET UPSET SAYING IT GOT REPORTED WRONG. When if you live here you know good and well its not an upstanding quiet neighborhood. There might be upstanding people that live there but the neighborhood ESPECIALLY during the parade is a damn mess. They've already partied the night away at Juve. Over half the people there don't go for the culture they go to get drunk on nutcrackers and see the girls. Most of the actual mature West Indians & Caribbean I know stay Far away from Eastern Parkway on Labor Day Weekend because that foolishness is for kids wanting to get drunk, high, and into fights. That's not how it started but that's how it turned out to be now. Let the parade keep it up this way for another year or two. With the gentrification creeping in and the new crowd of people the stadium will bring to the neighborhood I see the whole Parade being shut down soon.
NP8 September 07, 2011 at 05:50 AM
yea they will be shutting it down!!!
NP8 September 07, 2011 at 05:56 AM
I can not believe what is has become... a whole bunch of naked women trying to do the NASTIEST dance ...The parade looks the SAME every year...Maybe people are BORED...and the OUT OF ORDERNESS is OLD and TIRED NOW. I am no longer impressed and I am ALWAYS Fearful around the time of the Carnival that I go AWAY until it is all over! BARBARIC , OUT OF CONTROL, WILD, VIOLENT, are words to describe... I will just keep going to the PUERTO Rican day parade- seems like there is some order there and they are ALLOWED to have it in the city...NOT THE BRONX...you get where I am going? They don't want us over there so they let us stay here to kill each other...makes me sick how people act EVE RY FREAKIN YEAR!!!!!
Carolyn Taylor September 07, 2011 at 04:11 PM
Thank you for being honest. Something that was so beautiful has been disgraced by the behavior of the attendees.


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