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Two days after a 23-year-old man was found shot in the head at Astoria Houses and his teenage neighbor charged with murder, community leaders and a city councilman pledged to fight the gun violence they said was plaguing their neighborhood.
“A life is lost and a young man is going to jail for life,” said Bishop Mitchell Taylor, founder of the East River Development Alliance, after a news conference in Astoria Houses Tuesday afternoon. “We are no longer going to stand on the sidelines and say, ‘Well, the police will take care of it. Well, this will work out by itself.’ It’s not going to work out by itself. We have to work it out of our communities.”
At about 1 p.m. Sunday, officers were called to 4-03 Astoria Blvd. to investigate the report of an assault and found Tysheen Davis in the lobby of the building where he lived with a gunshot wound in his head, according to the NYPD.
On Monday, police said 19-year-old Lacorey Johnson, who lived in the same building as Davis four floors above, had been charged with second-degree murder and criminal possession of a weapon in Davis’ death.
In response to what community leaders called an escalation in violence in the area, a town hall meeting with residents was scheduled this week as elected officials and civic leaders announced plans to stop the violence in the community.
“It’s worse than I’ve ever seen it and I’ve spent my entire life a few blocks away,” said Councilman Peter Vallone Jr. (D-Astoria), citing five shootings in October 2011 at Astoria Houses — three in the same weekend.
Vallone said both the 114th Precinct and the city Housing Authority’s police force, the PSA, have committed to beefing up their presence in Astoria Houses.
In addition, community leaders pledged to support programs geared toward the youth, particularly young black and Hispanic men.
Both Vallone and Taylor also said they planned to work together with police to identify people bringing illegal guns into Astoria Houses.
“There are people that go around to all of these developments. There is someone that comes here to this development just like a fruit cart, and you can buy a gun for $500,” Taylor said. “For $500, you can take a life.”
Illegal guns were involved during the shooting Sunday, Vallone said.
Astoria Houses Tenants’ Association President Claudia Coger, who helped to organize the Tuesday news conference, called the fatal shooting “more than a tragedy.”
“There are two mothers’ hearts that are bleeding right now — two mothers that are friends and their children are involved in this incident. My heart goes out to them,” she said.
According to Taylor, a dispute between Davis and Johnson had been brewing since October.
Neighbors and relatives said Davis celebrated his son’s first birthday earlier this month, and friends described Davis as an avid basketball player and a construction worker.
“He was a good man, a new father, finding a way to support his son,” said a woman who identified herself as the victim’s cousin and did not want to be named.
Taylor, who said he would work officially out of ERDA’s office in Astoria Houses moving forward, said he envisioned the anti-violence tactics announced Tuesday to be used as a model for other housing developments.
“We can spring up all over public housing and say, ‘We are going to stop the violence and stop these deaths from happening,’” he said.
Reach photo editor Christina Santucci by e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org or by phone at 718-260-4589.
©2012 Community Newspaper Group
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