Atlantic City’s increased gun violence has often brought talk of what would happen if a child got caught in the middle.
But when a baby was injured in a fatal shooting last week, there was silence.
“A baby was hurt, and still no one says anything,” Dewane Parker, schools security chief, said, shaking his head as he stood on the 500 block of North South Carolina Avenue a day after Sedrick Lindo, 25, was fatally gunned down with a baby nearby.
Even the child’s grandmother, who posted on her Facebook page that the baby had a graze wound to his chest, replied with “no comment” when asked to speak about her grandson’s injury with a reporter.
“Someone has to speak up now, with a baby involved,” said Eula Grasty, as she stood down the street with her nieces and another woman.
All expressed anger, but when it came to giving their names, it was the fear of retribution that made them refuse.
“We have to live here,” one girl said.
The city’s homicides this year reached 12 with Lindo’s death, putting it on pace for the most annual killings in at least five years. Several other serious shootings have occurred, including two within two days in April just around the corner from Carver Hall, where Lindo’s killing happened.
People are starting to come forward, said LuQuay Zahir, who started what has now become a weekly walk through the city’s more troubled neighborhoods beginning at 11:45 p.m. Fridays at the All Wars Memorial building. Although he’s seeing it happen more to those in the community leading the many anti-violence movements.
“People are a lot more comfortable talking to us,” he said, which is why he and other men in the city are walking through the city more frequently. “On the walks alone, people are giving up information about different criminal activity going on in their neighborhood.”
The problem, he said, is that many things are a reaction after the violence, rather than fixing the problem.
“We’ve been talking about it forever how we’ve been lucky it hasn’t been an innocent bystander hurt or killed,” Zahir said. “You’re just waiting around for it to happen.”
Neither the Atlantic County Prosecutor’s Office nor Atlantic City police will comment on the baby’s injury.
“My heart was broken,” said Masjid Muhammad President Kaleem Shabazz. “I was outraged. I was glad the baby wasn’t severely injured. Hopefully, we’re energized.”
But residents remain fearful about speaking out publicly. People were unwilling to talk to a reporter at Carver Hall the day after the shooting. Some did express anger and fear over a child becoming a victim of violence, but they did not want to give their names, saying they have to live in the neighborhood.
“It is getting crazy,” a Stanley Holmes Village resident said Friday, after she, too, said she didn’t want to give her name for print.
Perry Mays, chairman of Stop the Violence in Atlantic County, said the goal was to have strategies to combat the violence, such as recreational activities for children and re-entry programs for those who have trouble in their past.
“(The baby getting injured) was something horrific that should never have happened,” he said. “It just shows how far it’s gone.”
Zahir has previously worked with the factions that seem to be in a gunfight in the city. He wouldn’t directly comment on what it meant that someone didn’t care that a baby was nearby when Lindo was apparently targeted.
“As far as I’m concerned, that’s just the actions of a coward,” he said. “Everything you do, you have to have code.”
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