"You can go to hell," the boy's grandmother said to the armed men who shot a hail of bullets at the family.
Warning: Contains details on violence that could be triggering for some.
It was late in the evening when a group of people was enjoying a family gathering with a smoking hot grill in the middle. The atmosphere was relaxed and perfect for the family to unwind and spend quality time together. Until two gunmen ran through the street and fired shots at them. As they fired a series of shots, one bullet went right in the stomach of a 1-year-old baby boy who was sitting unassumingly in his stroller.
The armed men, who came at around 11:30 pm, were there for only a few moments before fleeing from the scene. But that was enough to cause a lifetime of heartbreak for the family who had to bid goodbye to the youngest member of their family, Davell Gardner Jr.
In the shooting that took place near the Raymond Bush Playground in the Bedford-Stuyvesant section of Brooklyn, three men were also shot and left wounded by the same reckless, armed men on July 12, 2020, according to The New York Times. While the three men are expected to survive after the volley of bullets came at them out of nowhere, the one-year-old named didn't make it. He lost his baby life later that night in the hospital at around 2:39 am.
I just finished interviewing Samantha & Davell Sr. The grandmother and father of 1-year-old Davell Gardner Jr. He was in his stroller, when a group opened fire at a BBQ. A bullet hit baby boy in the stomach & sadly he didn’t make it. I’m live from Brooklyn, NY tonight. pic.twitter.com/52gzciUH0A— Lawrence B. Jones III (@LawrenceBJones3) July 13, 2020
"He was the joy of my life,” the baby's grandmother told the Daily News. "I just got a call saying my grandson was shot."
The boy's mother was present at the cookout along with family members from her side, while the boy's father was not present. He later heard the shocking news that his baby boy was no more.
The father, Davell Gardner Sr. told Fox News, "You took my son's life. I can't get that back. I can't hold him no more. I can't hear him calling me 'daddy' no more. I can't kiss him no more. I can't play with him no more. I've got to put my son in the ground now. He's only one."
If the shooting did not take place, the family would have soon gotten to see Davell Gardner Jr turn two. "His birthday is in two months," the bereaved father said. "He didn't live to see two. He didn't live life. It's like, I wanted to get him out of this violence before something like this happened."
The baby boy's devastating death comes after New York City saw a sharp increase in shootings and gun violence in the months of June and July, according to The New York Times. On the same day Davell Gardner Jr was shot, two other boys, aged 12 and 15, where also shot in another part of the city. What is also alarming is that the number of shootings that took place in the year 2019 until July 12 was 394; however, in 2020, the number of killings that took place till July 12 was 634.
"This is so painful," Mayor Bill de Blasio said the day after the shooting of Davell Gardner Jr. "It’s not something we can ever look away from."
"Gun violence took my son": Family and friends gathered Monday for the funeral of 1-year-old Davell Gardner Jr., who was fatally shot during a family barbecue in Brooklyn earlier this month— PIX11 News (@PIX11News) July 27, 2020
More details: https://t.co/v6hzHfhbCi pic.twitter.com/SrqjgFjTEf
The baby boy's grandmother also had a message for the gunmen who paid no heed to the innocent people that turned into victims. "For the cowards that did this, you should be ashamed of yourself," Samantha Gardner told Fox News. "...You can go to hell. Excuse my expression, but you took something that was precious for me, precious for my son, something precious for his mother, and we will never see him. He cannot come back. He cannot wake back up. He was an innocent little baby and he's gone forever."
When Davell Gardner Sr was asked about whether the officials voted in are doing enough to protect his neighborhood, the father said, "The community is just getting worse and worse. Nobody's doing nothing about it. Nobody. Nobody is trying to make a change, and it's sad to say that. Like every day is just worse. You don't know if you're going to live to see the next day."