Queens leaders call for more safety guards after student shot near high school in Bayside

Council member Linda Lee speaks at the podium during a March 28 press conference addressing the shooting. She is joined by (left to right) Cardozo HS PTA executive board member Dionne Dorsey, Council member Vickie Paladino and Congresswoman Grace Meng. (Photo courtesy of Daniel Sparrow)

Following Friday’s incident in which a Benjamin N. Cardozo High School student was shot by another student just three blocks away from the school, local government and school leaders expressed concern for the school’s 3,600 students and how they can work to prevent more incidents like this from happening.

The leaders spoke from the corner of Springfield Boulevard and the Horace Harding Expressway, where the shooting occurred Friday at approximately 3:10 p.m. as the victim was walking home from school.

City Council member Linda Lee said the incident was frightening due to the fact it was perpetrated by kids on a kid while also occurring so close to a school. “If any student thinks it’s necessary to use a gun on someone else, we’ve failed them as a city,” Lee said. “We’re here today to call for a coordinated response between parents, teachers, community leaders and 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’s alternatives to violence out there.”

According to Lee, two areas in need of improvement at the school are the addition of more school safety guards and investing in social programs for students as they adjust to returning to normal school life following the pandemic. Additionally, Lee said the school and 111th Precinct are both looking into possibly bringing back the school engagement program.

“This program involves officers engaging with students in busy neighborhoods,” Lee said.

The amount of school safety guards at Cardozo was cut back to between two and five after students returned to in-person classes. With approximately 3,600 students in the school, Lee hopes the school can get as many as 10 safety guards in order to better prevent violence from occurring between students. However, this prospect is difficult due to the current shortage of safety officers within the school district.

Lee said the shooting victim is expected to make a full recovery. Two students were taken into custody Friday in connection with the shooting. Additionally, the New York Post reported that police were looking for two other individuals believed to be involved in the shooting.

Lee said the police will provide more information on the case once it becomes available.

Law enforcement sources told QNS that a 15-year-old was charged with criminal possession of a weapon. It is unclear if the teenager is currently facing additional charges.

According to law enforcement sources, the victim was approached by four people with surgical gloves and masks on. They then proceeded to open fire on the victim, striking him in the right arm before fleeing the scene. The victim was rushed to the Cohen Children’s Hospital and treated for his injuries.

Last week’s shooting was the second incident over the span of a week. At least 19 shots were fired in a neighborhood during the early hours of March 19, resulting in one teenager getting wounded.

Many of the leaders expressed concern with the amount of illegal guns in the area. According to Queens Borough President Donovan Richards, parents, teachers, police and public figures need to step up in order to protect the community from gun violence.

“We’ve seen far too many young people be maimed or lose their lives in a hail of bullets on our streets in recent years,” Richards said.

According to Councilwoman Vickie Paladino, bad policy decisions over the years have led to some criminal behavior being excused more.

“My office is committed to reversing these policies and working closely with police, prosecutors and the local community to restore public safety,” Paladino said.

Lee, Paladino and Congresswoman Grace Meng hope the implementation of more security workers at schools like Cardozo and increased positive communication between students and police officers will help immensely in reducing violence not just in schools, but also within the community.

“We will not tolerate violence in our community,” Meng said.

Benjamin N. Cardozo High School was founded in 1967. It has long been one of the top-scoring high schools in the country and is still nationally ranked today.