Speaking from his hospital bed, Anthony Davis, a retiree, recalled the moment when two shooters opened fire as a community event in Brownsville’s Mendoza Park came to a close last Saturday.
“Before anyone could take one step, [a gunman] let off eight shots – pop, pop, pop,” he said. “As soon as I heard the shots I turned my back to go the other way.”
Davis said he was shot before he could run away from the gunfire.
“I got hit in my back,” he told the Post. “It felt like it was hot steel in my back burning.”
Davis was one of 11 victims who were injured at the annual “Old Timers” event, which the New York City Parks Department once described in 2010 as a get-together of “former members of the [Brownsville Recreation Center] who went on to success and fame in sports and other endeavors.”
“At first I couldn’t feel nothing in my legs for five to ten seconds when I hit the ground,” Davis remembered. “I was afraid because I thought this was the end.”
The gunmen reportedly shot 12 people, killing one 38-year-old man that the Post identified as Jason Pagan, an alleged Bloods gang member. Police have not yet made any arrests.
Law enforcement sources told the newspaper that the gunfire may have resulted from an alcohol-fueled confrontation between rival gangs. Following the incident, the city’s mayor Bill de Blasio issued a statement on Twitter.
“We had a terrible shooting in Brownsville tonight that shattered a peaceful neighborhood event,” the statement read. “Our hearts go out to the victims. We will do everything in our power to keep this community safe and get guns off our streets.”
Davis told the Post that Saturday’s shooting sent people into a frenzy.
“I told myself, ‘I can’t die like this,'” he said. “I got up. I stumbled against the fence. I told the officers that I got shot, but they were on the other side of the fence.”
The retiree added that he hoped that the gunmen “really understand the damage they did to the community and the event when they are really not old-timers themselves.” According to the now-defunct news site DNAinfo.com, Brownsville “is the murder capital of New York.” In 2010, the 73rd Precinct registered 28 homicides in 2010, placing it “dead last among the 69 neighborhoods for that category in DNAinfo.com’s Crime & Safety Report.”
“The young adults today don’t understand the meaning of ‘Old Timers Day,” Davis said. “They think it is the day for them to smoke weed and have their liquor and be free – no restrictions.”