During his nearly three decades representing Corona in Albany, Assemblyman Jeffrion Aubry has kept a low profile while working for criminal justice reform but the gang shooting that wounded 10 on Saturday, July 31, brought him to the microphone at the Elmcor center, where he once worked after graduating college.
During a press conference on Sunday, Aug. 1, he noted that the facility on 108th Street has provided a haven for the community for nearly a half-century on the same street corner that was once a drug shooting gallery.
“If we don’t put this together on a state and citywide level a house divided cannot stand,” Aubry said. “So we need a new mayor and we need the governor to be reinvigorated in the desire to make New York City safe. We need the funding to be released and we need to make sure the communities cooperate.”
He then implored his constituents to speak up if they knew any of the two gunmen who fired nearly 40 shots into a crowd of people on 37th Avenue, or the two men on scooters who helped them get away before police responded to the crime scene.
“You have to be a part of the solution. You cannot sit back and be silent and think you are going to be safe because they will continue to shoot and they do not care who you are or if you are in the way,” Aubry said. “If you are not part of the solution doing what is necessary to bring people to justice we will not have a safe community. There’s good here and there’s bad here and we need to put the good together to defeat the bad.”
State Senator Jessica Ramos called on Governor Andrew Cuomo to disburse the more than $300,000 she allocated in funding for Elmcor in order to implement a Cure Violence program.
“Too many guns are on the streets and what we need the most above all is the cooperation of the federal government to end the Iron Pipeline,” Ramos said. “Most of the guns on our streets come from out of state and we need more stringent background checks. We need much better control over who has access to these guns.”
Queens District Attorney Melinda Katz stood with the elected officials at Elmcor and while she could not talk about the case, she spoke of the scourge of gun violence.
“I can prosecute the drivers of crime and we do take down gun rings, those that come in from Virginia through the Iron Pipeline and sell guns to our children in Queens County,” Katz said. “We find them and we prosecute them.”
Assemblywoman Jessica González-Rojas echoed Ramos’ calls for funding to be disbursed to community organizations in order to aid with prevention.
“I express my sincere concern and hope that the individuals who were harmed by the shooting recover quickly. During this year, the state declared gun violence a public health crisis. I, along with my colleagues, supported the investment of millions in community-based violence interruption programs. This is evidence that we need that funding to be disbursed now,” González-Rojas said in a statement. “These programs are successful non-police responses by the community for the community. We also passed important gun control legislation to crack down on ghost guns, comprehensive background checks, and to create municipal gun buyback programs.”
González-Rojas said they will “continue to push for solutions that don’t perpetuate mass incarceration.”
Councilman Francisco Moya, who was born and raised in Corona, spoke at the crime scene with Democratic mayoral nominee Eric Adams.
“This needs to stop. The uptick in gun violence has been a reality of daily life in the outer boroughs and for communities of color,” Moya said. “This is not just a Manhattan problem and concerns about scaring away tourists. Gun violence has been plaguing the safety of our families, children and seniors. We are trying to survive the COVID-19 pandemic and a gun violence pandemic.”
Moya said he’s advocating for more intervention measures for Corona, through Saturday Night Lights and Cure Violence.
“But we need help. We need to work with our local precinct and we need string, experienced leadership like Democratic mayoral candidate Eric Adams to help us truly tackle gun violence,” Moya said.
Adams called for a joint guns and gangs task force across government agencies.
His opponent, Republican nominee Curtis Sliwa went to Corona with members of the Guardian Angels and urged the city to bring back “stop and frisk” to get guns off the streets.
Meanwhile, Queens Borough President Donovan Richards said it was a “miracle no one was killed” in the hail of bullets.
“The violence we saw in Corona on Saturday is unacceptable and will not be tolerated in our borough,” Richards said. “We are thankful that no one lost their lives in this senseless shooting, but this brazen attack shows we have to intensify our efforts to get guns off our streets and invest in the Cure Violence movement and other resources that help keep all of us safe. Next we must make sure those responsible for Saturday’s shooting are brought to justice and hope the survivors make full and speedy recoveries.”