Four days after a shooting in Brownsville that left 11 injured and one dead, Mayor Bill de Blasio tweaked his language surrounding the event, calling it a “mass shooting” for the first time.
The mayor initially declined to use the term — but Wednesday, just hours before his second presidential debate, he changed course.
“The tragic events of Saturday night led to one dead and 11 others injured. Right after, we had real worry in the community about letting this violence define the neighborhood. That remains true, but I’ve also come to realize it’s critical we call this what it was: a mass shooting,” the mayor said in the statement.
“The suffering of men and women in Brownsville has just as much meaning as people shot in any other community across this country. Language matters and I’ll use my voice to make sure our culture is putting the same value on human life lost to gun violence, no matter the circumstances.”
The change in language was first reported by AM New York‘s Mark Chiusano via Twitter.
— Mark Chiusano (@mjchiusano) July 31, 2019
The statement was a sharp tack from his comments Sunday morning at the scene of the shooting.
“I am only going to say that that phrase is usually reserved for a different type of situation than what I know this to be so far. But let’s get the investigation to go forward and then we can define it,” he said, responding to a question from the Brooklyn Eagle.
The shooting occurred as Brownsville’s Old Timers Day block party was winding down on Saturday night. The event, a celebration of local talent and an annual coming together of the community, has been going on for more than 50 years. Thousands of revelers were gathered in a park when shots rang out.
A Brownsville resident named Jason Pagan was killed and 11 others were injured, including a man in critical — now serious — condition, and a woman whose bra may have saved her life.
The mayor’s initial decision not to call the attack a mass shooting drew immediate anger from Brownsville politicians and anti-gun violence advocates.
Though there is no official definition of a mass shooting, the New York Times has counted mass shootings in the country including any shooting that kills or injures four or more people. That definition is sourced to the Gun Violence Archive, which has Brownsville’s mass shooting on its list.
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