Oakland Gardens pols, community responds to shooting

Community leaders and elected officials in Oakland Gardens rallied on Monday after a 16-year-old student was shot last week at the intersection of Springfield Boulevard and the Horace Harding Expressway, calling for a coordinated response to address public safety concerns.

Shots were fired just two blocks away from the Benjamin N. Cardozo High School on Friday afternoon. According to The New York Post, reports of the incident prompted a school lockdown as the teenager was transported to a local hospital and is reportedly in stable condition.

“The last thing any parent wants to hear is that there was a shooting down the street from their kids’ school. My kids’ school is just down the road, and we do most of our shopping right here,” New York City Councilwoman Linda Lee said in a release. “ What happened on Friday is as tragic as it is frightening because if any student thinks it’s necessary to use a gun on someone else, we’ve failed them as a City. We’re here today to call for a coordinated response between parents, teachers, community leaders, school, police, and elected officials to get guns off the street, keep kids in school and out of trouble, and invest in their futures so they know there are alternatives to violence out there.”

Lee was joined by Congresswoman Grace Meng, Councilwoman Vickie Paladino, Queens Borough President Donovan Richards, Benjamin N. Cardozo High School PTA members and parents, and local business owners to call for an increase in the number of school safety agents, school counselors, and social workers at Cardozo High School, more officers for the 111th Precinct, and closer coordination between the school, precinct, and local business owners.

“It saddens me as a mother, life-long Queens resident, and as the Member of Congress representing this area to see yet another shooting in our Queens community, and this most recent incident being so close to one of our schools,” U.S. Rep. Meng said. “Cardozo High School is one of the pillars of education in our community and to hear about one of the students getting injured due to gun violence just blocks away from the school breaks my heart. We have to stand up, as parents, students, teachers, and everyday citizens to coordinate an end to this epidemic plaguing our community.”

Councilwoman Paladino called the shocking incident a “wake-up call to our community.”

“The fact is our district is not immune to the dramatic increase in violent crime our city is facing. Unfortunately, this is a direct result of years of bad policy decisions which have rewarded and excused criminal behavior,” Paladino said in a release. “My office is committed to reversing these policies and working closely with police, prosecutors, and the local community to restore public safety.”

State elected officials, who could not attend due to being in Albany, also sent statements of support to the school and the local community.

“Last Friday’s shooting sent shockwaves throughout Oakland Gardens and has alarmed our entire community,” Assemblywoman Nily Rozic said. “While the investigation continues, I join my colleagues in urging for proactive solutions to address the alarming rise of gun violence across New York and increased investments and support services at schools.”

New York State Senator John Liu said that the shooting was the second to take place in the community in less than a week, and emphasized the importance of addressing these “despicable acts.”

“Gun violence is unacceptable in any neighborhood but is especially egregious when it occurs so close to home, in our streets, and so close to our schools,” Liu said in a statement. “Bayside is not the Wild West! We must get these guns off the streets and out of the hands of our youth.”