10-year-old Justin Wallace was preparing for his 11th birthday. But his plans for an amusement park outing ended swiftly when he was violently shot down leaving his aunt’s house in Queens. Justin’s 29-year-old cousin was also injured. The motive is still unclear.
The death of the child, identified by police as Justin Wallace, followed the release of NYC’s latest crime statistics. The report showed that shootings skyrocketed 73 percent in May compared to the same month in 2020.
Justin Wallace’s shooting came during a violent weekend in other major cities across the country. Three were killed and several injured after a shooting at a graduation party in Florida’s Miami-Dade area. Just after midnight Sunday, eight people were wounded, one critically, in a shooting in the East Area of New Orleans.
The Queens home had a security camera that recorded the shooter as he walked to the house on Beach 45th Street in the Edgemere neighborhood of Far Rockaway in Queens. At around 9:30 p.m., the gunman fired at least eight shots through the railing on the steps leading to the doorway before running off. The suspect, who ran into a subway station carrying a Dunkin bag, has still not been caught.
Justin Wallace was struck in the stomach and pronounced dead at St. John’s Episcopal Hospital. His cousin, Kyle Forrester, whom police earlier identified as an uncle, was shot in the shoulder but expected to survive.
The New York shooting, described by Mayor Bill de Blasio as “a coward’s act,” occurred just days before Justin’s 11th birthday. The soon-to-be sixth grader, had spent a day at Rockaway Beach and was planning a celebration that included a trip to an amusement park and a buffet.
The mayor, who visited with Justin Wallace’s parents, said it had been painful to hear then talk about their dreams for the slain boy. “The idea you lose your child before you’re gone is just, there’s no words,” the mayor told reporters at the scene. “We’re trying to comfort this family, and we’re telling them one thing we are certain of: We will find this killer.”
“He was my pride, my joy,” Aretha Douglas Wallace, Justin’s mother, said on Sunday afternoon after emerging from the family’s home. “My rock.” Tears rimmed her eyes as she walked out of the house’s front gate, describing where their party plans had left off. “I was going to make calls to the children for the party,” she said. “Justin was going to give me a list, and I was going to call everyone.”
Justin Wallace was one of nine people shot in New York on Saturday in six separate incidents, according to the police. Another child, a 12-year-old girl, and a man were shot earlier Saturday in an unrelated incident in the Bronx.
The girl, who was visiting from New Jersey, was hit in the ankle. The man, 25, was shot in the chest shortly before 6 p.m. outside a building on Wythe Place near the intersection with East 171st Street. Both victims were treated at BronxCare Health System and are expected to survive, the police said.
Through Saturday, 678 people in New York City had been killed or injured in 594 shootings. Both figures increased about 69 percent from the same period in 2020, when 402 people were hurt in 352 shootings.