Following the fatal shooting of a Woodside mother of two young children, the city announced a new gun violence prevention effort.
Gudelia Vallinas, 37, was just steps from her home after running an errand when she was caught in the crossfire gang members near the Woodside Houses. Vallinas as born in Mexico and was a recipient of the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) policy, according to her husband Alfredo. She had an 11-year-old son and a 9-year-old daughter.
Police from the 114th Precinct in Astoria have made no arrests and the investigation is ongoing.
“This is just the latest in the disturbing rise of shootings in our borough,” Queens Borough President Donovan Richards said Saturday. “Law enforcement must work hand in hand with our communities in order to make our neighborhoods safer, and to make this a reality, we need an expansion of the crisis management system.”
State Senator Michael Gianaris agreed.
“Her death at the hands of needless gun violence is a shocking indicator that still more must be done to address the scourge of gun violence, and it must be done in a way that centers community members,” Gianaris said. “I am committed to working with policymakers, violence interrupters and our neighbors to prevent any more tragedies like this.”
Mayor Bill de Blasio and Public Advocate Jumaane Williams announced that the city will pilot the Advance Peace Model, a new gun violence prevention program that pairs youth who are at risk for gun violence with individual mentors. The program will launch this July in the 114th Precinct in Astoria and at five other precincts citywide.
“The most effective solutions come from the grassroots and create change beyond the power of government,” de Blasio said. “The Crisis Management System has empowered leaders from across our city to take control of their neighborhoods and rethink what it means to keep each other safe.”
The mayor had conversations with Williams in recent weeks about gun violence prevention as part of the city’s COVID-19 recovery.
“We all have a part to play in co-producing public safety, and healing old wounds and building new partnerships will require bold action,” Williams said. “This pilot program is an opportunity to demonstrate the power of not only this program, but these principles in public safety. I thank the mayor for funding the Advance Peace pilot program in New York City. After seeing such success with the Crisis Management System, we must continue to innovate our work to reimagine public safety, and I’m eager to put this model into action and save lives.”
When the Advance Peace Model program launches, the city will conduct outreach in the precincts to identify youth who are at risk, then invite them to join the program’s Peacemaker fellowship. Once paired with a mentor, they will set tangible goals, like getting a driver’s license or a GED. The program was a proven success in Sacramento, California, where a peer-reviewed study showed a 27 percent reduction in gun violence over two years.
“Our city needs to invest in more initiatives that boost Crisis Management Systems in the ongoing effort to reduce gun violence, and this Advance Peace Model pilot is a good first step,” Councilwoman Adrienne Adams said. “Youth mentorship is an important part of violence prevention. I look forward to seeing this new program thrive as we begin to reimagine public safety in New York City.”
Meanwhile, a GoFundMe page set up to help pay for Gudelia Valinas’ funeral raised more than $40,000 on its first day. Anyone interested in contributing can do so here.