Heard 5 Gun Shots After Reporting Latimer Said Gun Violence Is Not A Major Problem In Westchester.


[Update 7:39 pm, I am being told what I heard was fireworks. It sounded a lot like gun fire. But I still stand by the point of article senseless violence is a major problem in lower Westchester]

While very few details are known yet, I can personally give a first-person account that I just heard 5 gunshots and saw half MVPD race down my block and turn on Fifth Street.

I just posted my article about the announcement of the new Gun Violence Task Force where County Executive George Latimer said in the statement that  “gun violence is not a major problem in Westchester County…”

I just wrote the words, Gun violence may not be a major problem in the County of Westchester, but that is not the reality in some of the southern cities in the county, like Mount Vernon, where there was a double homicide at a Mount Vernon smoke shop just a week earlier on Tuesday, March 19th, two hours ago and then I hear 5 gun shots out my window while working on another story.

While I find out more details about the 5 gunshots I just heard, here is why I have a problem with the statement from CE Latimer. In the last year, there have been several shootings in Mount Vernon, including 14-year-old Zyaire Fernandez shot and killed in the courtyard of Levister Towers in Mount Vernon (one block from my house) in broad daylight at approximately 10 am on the morning of Thursday, March 9, 2023.

A month later, there was 18-year-old Tamani Turner, who was fatally shot just a few yards from where he and his family lived on Thursday, April 6, 2023, near Garden Avenue and East 4th Street. He was the teenager killed in Mount Vernon in early 2023. Sergey Tonkovid, 19, was stabbed to death on Feb. 11, 2023. He was found lying on the ground near the intersection of North Columbus and East Lincoln Avenues, just before 4 p.m.

Then there was the shooting of 25-year-old Mount Vernon DPW employee, Daquan Moore, at 8:25 a.m., Friday, July 6, 2023, near 50 North Terrace Avenue while on duty collecting garbage when an unknown person began shooting at him and his co-worker. Moore was shot in both legs.

On Sunday, August 21, 2023, Mark Nembhard, 34, and his brother Brandon were shot by an off-duty Mount Vernon Police officer who emptied his gun into the unsuspecting crowd after an altercation between two other individuals in a backyard summer party, according to news reports. Mark was shot in his left foot, while his brother was shot in the back and shoulder.

And again there was a double homicide outside a Mount Vernon Smoke Shop on South 5th Avenue just last week, Tuesday, March 19th. The Southern District of New York said that five men — Ilario Contreras, Jerpi Diaz-Feliz, Jhoan Diaz-Feliz, Victor Jimenez and Joseph Perez — were charged with murder in furtherance of drug trafficking. If convicted on that charge alone, the five men could face life in prison or even the death penalty, because they are being charged with a federal offense. They are also charged with conspiracy to commit Hobbs Act Robbery, conspiracy to engage in drug trafficking, and discharging a gun in furtherance of drug trafficking, according to prosecutors. The latter two charges also come with potential life sentences.

Senseless gun violence is not just a Mount Vernon thing, neighboring other cities in Congressional District 16 like the city of Yonkers where I recall five people were wounded in Yonkers on Saturday night in two separate shootings in 2022. Legislator Shanae Williams, who was a Yonkers City Councilwoman at the time discussed a shooting that took place in front of her house in 2020 in Yonkers, at the press conference announcing the new Gun Violence Task Force. Another man was shot near the Saw Mill River Parkway in Yonkers on Tuesday morning, November 14, 2023. County Legislator James Nolan spoke about his brother being shot to death in the Yonkers Burger King parking lot in 2015 as the main reason he supports the need for the task force.

16-year-old Julian Oliveros, of New Rochelle, was shot on the corner of Fourth Street and Washington Avenue in the middle of the afternoon in January 2022, he was taken to the hospital where he died. A 33-year-old New Rochelle man was shot shortly after midnight on Monday morning, October 2, 2023. A 17-year-old has been arrested after he allegedly shot a gun inside a Burger King restaurant at 33 LeCount Place around 8 p.m. on Friday, March 1, 2024.

This is what I can call off the top of my head but by no means is this all of them. There is too much senseless violence, not exclusively gun violence, like the fatal stabbing of MV teenage cheerleader Kayla Green last year Friday, April 7, 2023, and a 15-year-old who was stabbed yesterday at 4 p.m. at Benjamin Turner School on South Third Avenue, according to the district.

The bottom line when County Executive George Latimer talks about gun violence not being a major problem in Westchester, he obviously isn’t talking about the 16th Congressional District where he is running to unseat Congressman Jamaal Bowman. Like I said two hours after reporting on his announcement of the Westchester County Gun Violence Prevention Taskforce (WCGVPT), I just heard five shots from my window! I do welcome the WCGVPT because senseless gun violence is a major problem in lower Westchester. And I still haven’t found out any further details on today’s shooting!

AJ Woodson
AJ Woodson
AJ Woodson is the Editor-In-Chief and co-owner of Black Westchester, Host & Producer of the People Before Politics Radio Show, An Author, Journalism Fellow (Craig Newmark Graduate School of Journalism), Rap Artist - one third of the legendary underground rap group JVC FORCE known for the single Strong Island, Radio Personality, Hip-Hop Historian, Documentarian, Activist, Criminal Justice Advocate and Freelance Journalist whose byline has appeared in several print publications and online sites including The Source, Vibe, the Village Voice, Upscale, Sonicnet.com, Launch.com, Rolling Out Newspaper, Daily Challenge Newspaper, Spiritual Minded Magazine, Word Up! Magazine, On The Go Magazine and several others.


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