By Patrick Donachie
Three years after the shooting death of a teenager sitting on an idling bus in south Jamaica, a portion of the street near where she died will be named in her memory and honor.
The portion of Sutphin Boulevard between 125th Avenue and Rockaway Boulevard that runs along the southwestern end of Baisley Park will soon be named D’Aja Naquai Robinson Way, according to City Councilman Ruben Wills (D-Jamaica).
“We have a responsibility to remind the public about the indiscriminate nature of gun violence, and the destruction it causes,” Wills said about the street renaming.
On May 18, 2013, Robinson boarded a Q6 bus shortly after attending a friend’s Sweet 16 birthday party on Rockaway Boulevard. At about 8:30 p.m., someone began firing into the bus. Robinson was struck in the head by a bullet and died later at Jamaica Hospital, according to police. Investigators discovered nine .40-caliber shells at the scene.
Authorities arrested Kevin McClinton, 22, a week and a half later in South Carolina, and Shamel Capers, 16, surrendered to police at the end of July, both in connection with the shooting. McClinton was tried and convicted earlier this year of Robinson’s murder. According to officials, the two were aiming at another passenger on the bus. Capers is awaiting trial, with his next court date scheduled for Sept. 16.
Mayor Bill de Blasio signed the bill authorizing the street renaming on Aug. 2.
Wills said Robinson’s death led to new initiatives that eased gun violence in the city, including the creation of the Gun Violence Crisis Management System in August 2014. The new system utilized the “cure violence” model that applied public health and community-based solutions to gun violence, including preventative services like job training, mental health and legal assistance that might decrease violence in the long term. He also noted the success of Erica Ford’s LIFE Camp organization in South Jamaica. The area the organization oversees has gone more than 500 days without a shooting. Wills applauded the success of the new programs while also acknowledging that heartbreaking incident that helped bring them to fruition.
“That achievement is rooted in the sorrow of D’Aja’s family, and it is my sincere hope that through this co-naming they will be able to take a measure of solace in knowing that fewer young men and women have lost their lives to gun violence since,” Wills said.
Reach reporter Patrick Donachie by e-mail at pdona