I moved to Sunset Park with my family 22 years ago. This neighborhood has been home to where both my mother and father grew up in, and one that my sibling and I have grown up in as well. I was 6-years-old. I traveled these streets with friends as a teenager. I visited these stores and parks as I was growing up. I went to elementary and middle school in the neighborhood and made friends with those who lived in the area as well.
Sunset Park is what we call “the melting pot” of South Brooklyn. In our neighborhood that expands 30 blocks and 4 avenues, we are surrounded by Hispanics, Asians, Jewish people, and a mixture of every other demographic in New York. It’s a neighborhood that you don’t hear much about in the news unless it’s about our annual Puerto Rican Day Parade on 5th Avenue or the Lunar New Year Festival on 8th Avenue.
So when the events of today’s horrible and tragic mass shooting happened within our neighborhood this morning, most of us– if not all– were left frozen in shock.
Around 8:30am on Tuesday morning, a gunman threw a gas canister in a Northbound N-train between the (presumably) 59th Street and 36th street stops. When the train pulled into the 36th street train station, the doors opened and smoke engulfed the train station. Dozens of people on that specific train cart fled the train, whether it was to run away from the scene or out of the train station, or to fall on the ground of the platform, bloody, waiting for help to come their way. In the end, 30 people were injured and/or hurt; 10 people were shot while on that train. As I am writing this, an investigation is still active and the suspect is still at-large.
I woke up this morning not really understanding the severity of it all. I was getting ready for work like I would normally do, and checked the bus that would take me at least halfway to my job. There was only one bus on-route, which was an hour away. Yeah, that particular bus takes a while to come to my stop, but it has never been to that extent. When I got on social media to read more about what was going on, I couldn’t help but feel sick to my stomach. A train station, which is literally 10 minutes away from me and that I frequently go on to travel myself, was now a crime scene. It was now surrounded by NYPD, FDNY, and even the Bomb Squad. It was crazy to think something like that would happen so close to home. I stayed home for my own safety and to ease my anxieties of traveling even though it wouldn’t be on the train itself.
It’s now a couple of hours later and the helicopters aren’t as audible as they were when it was daytime. There aren’t sirens going off every 5 minutes like they were earlier on in the day. For the most part, everything has calmed down for the night, but it doesn’t mean that waking up tomorrow for the morning commute are going to be easy. Any New Yorker is.
For the families and friends who directly were affected by this tragic event, my heart goes out for you. These people were mothers and fathers, sons and daughters, friends and so much more to those on that train this morning. I can’t help but think about my own family and what they would have had to go through if one of us were involved in such a tragic event.
It hits you harder when you see your own neighborhood on TV with dozens of medical assistance, news vans with reporters, and NYPD activity as heavy as it was earlier today. You walk out of your house and it immediately feels like a scene of a movie. It’s unfathomable. It’s something that normally doesn’t happen. It’s something that shouldn’t ever happen to any neighborhood in real life. But sadly, it does, and for a neighborhood as amazing as SUnset Park, I am saddened that this tragic event will forever taunt the beauty behind this neighborhood.
We have to be better and smarter about what goes on into our neighborhoods. We need to end this non-stop violence on the subway and make New Yorkers feel safe again. We travel the 5 boroughs on public transportation, and to take that away from us due to the fear that our morning commutes on a new day or to go home after work or school will turn for the absolute worst. We need to do something about all this violence in our communities and enforce rules to help protect ourselves.
I will forever be a New Yorker, a Brooklynnite, and Sunset Park Resident (whether I move elsewhere in the future or not). We are strong, resident, and able to come together to fight what is right for our community.