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A black New York City woman was shot multiple times and killed after asking a man who was setting off fireworks illegally to stop, in accordance with the borough president’s advice.
Reports note that Shatavia Walls, 33, was shot eight times on July 7 after following official advice to try and resolve disputes face-to-face with neighbors rather than calling 911.
She was shot after she asked a group of people setting off illegal fireworks near a playground, the UK’s Daily Mail reported.
In June, Brooklyn Borough President Eric Adams claimed that since setting off fireworks illegally was a “non-violent act,” neighborhood residents should “go talk to the young people or the people on your block who are using fireworks” instead of calling 311 or 911.
During a visit to her mother, siblings and extending family in East New York on July 4, Walls went to talk to a group that was setting off fireworks in a playground where youngsters were at play.
During the talks a scuffle broke out between Wells and some members of the group. Eventually, she was chased back into her mother’s building while being shot at, her mother, Helen Testagros, recounted.
The bullet missed but Walls was able to retrieve the shell casing and managed to pick up the alleged shooter’s driver’s license that he dropped at the scene as he ran off.
At that, Wells called 911 to report the incident and gave a dispatcher the information from the license.
Three days later, Wells again heard fireworks being set off from the playground area and she decided once more to confront the group lighting them.
According to the Daily Mail, the man who shot at her on July 4 was not with the group, but one person went to find him and tell him that Wells had returned.
“He was chasing her, hopping over the gates, shooting,” Testagros told the New York Post, apparently striking her.
“He walked over. She was on the ground shot. And he kept shooting until the gun went ‘click, click, click,” Wells’ mother added.
In all, she was struck eight times. In addition, a companion, Kelvin Hernandez, was also struck by gunfire.
Wells managed to identify her attacker from a bed at Brookdale Hospital, but she succumbed to her wounds three days later, reports noted.
In her interview with the Post, Testagros said that Wells was specifically following the advice Adams had given residents by attempting to engage in face-to-face conversations with people setting off fireworks.
“She watched the news. Yes, she heard it,” Testagros said, according to the Post. “It was probably in the back of her mind.”
But Testagros said she believes Adams gave bad advice.
“It’s not a good idea. You don’t know who you are approaching. These kids are not respectful anymore. … They’re more ruthless,” she added.
In a statement following Wells’ death, Adams expressed remorse over her killing but doubled down on his recommendation.
“My heart goes out to the family of Shatavia Walls on this horrific incident. Gun violence has hurt too many innocent people in our city, from one-year-old Davell Gardner to this dynamic young lady. Dangerous people are shooting innocent people for senseless reasons. I renew my call for cracking down on the scourge of illegal guns,” he said, according to the Post.
“Our call is to continue building an ecosystem of public safety that includes community response and police,” he continued. “Whenever someone exhibits violence, we should call the police, but whenever we can communicate peacefully with our neighbors, we should do so.”
Testagros said that the culture in the neighborhood among youth is to shoot first for ‘street cred.’
“It’s all about project fame for them. Quick to shoot,” she told the Post. “They don’t care about your life.
“This is a train coming down,” she added, in reference to the rise once more of armed gangs, warning: “You gotta stop them. It’s going to get worse.”
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