12-year-old boy charged with murder of 15-year-old cousin in Brooklyn

About 150 people gathered Monday evening outside a building in Brooklyn’s Crown Heights neighborhood with a somber purpose: to pay tribute to Jasai Guy, a 15-year-old boy who police said was fatally shot by a 12-year-old man . one-year-old cousin.

Mourners lit votive candles, wrote messages on a bulletin board and held blue and white balloons. A dozen New York City firefighters, colleagues of the deceased teen’s father, were among the crowd.

Cassandra Vassell, who identified herself as Jasai’s maternal grandmother, told mourners that her grandson was a “sweet child” and that “what we need right now is prayers “.

Also present at the vigil was Derelle Guy, Jasai’s father, who described his son as a “beautiful soul.”

“Know who Jasai Guy was,” said M. » said Guy. “He was an honors student. He was the division’s spelling bee champion. He was a track star. As his friends said, he inspired them to be better.

The 12-year-old, who has not been publicly identified due to his age, has been charged with second-degree manslaughter, criminally negligent homicide and fourth-degree criminal possession of a weapon , officials said.

The case is being brought before the city’s family court because of the boy’s age. He was released to his mother Monday after a hearing in which his request for detention was denied, according to the city Law Department.

The boy and Jasai, who police initially said was 14, were cousins ​​and were in the living room of Jasai’s apartment when the fatal shot was fired, an official said law enforcement.

The 12-year-old was visiting Jasai at the home, on the fifth floor of an Osborn Street apartment building, where he lived with his father, said Mudhil Jeter, 40, a longtime resident and friend of Mr. Guys. .

“It’s shocking,” Mr. Jeter said. “He was a very good boy.”

Police said they received a 911 call about the shooting around 10:24 a.m. Sunday. When they arrived at the building, part of the Howard Houses complex, they found Jasai, who had been shot in the chest. He was unconscious and unresponsive. He was taken to Brookdale University Hospital and Medical Center, where he was clearly dead.

Dushoun Almond, who runs Brownsville In Violence Out, a neighborhood anti-violence organization, said family members told him the boys were playing with the gun when it went off. It was clear how they obtained the weapon.

“It’s a fatal accident,” said M. » said Amande. “But nevertheless, it was an accident.”

Monday morning, a small memorial had taken shape in front of the front door of the building on Osborn Street. A flickering candle, dollar bills, chips and cookies had been placed under a sign taped to the wall reading “Young King!” » and “We love you forever.”

Mr. Jeter, the family friend and neighbor, lives on the second floor of the building.

“When I saw all the cops coming into the building, I thought something had happened,” he said. “When I came out, everyone was talking about it.”

Delois Hall, a Brooklyn resident who visited a cousin at the complex over the weekend, said the shooting shook the neighborhood.

“It hurts knowing they were so young,” she said. “Everyone talks about it, everyone.”

James Nicholson, a pastor and former tenement resident whose ministry is nearby, said his son grew up with Jasai’s father, who is now assigned to Engine Co. 231 on Watkins Street, next to the Howard complex Houses.

“He’s coming back from vacation – he unfortunately has to come back,” Mr Nicholson said of Mr Guy. “It’s a tragedy that kind of turns your whole world upside down.”

He added that the building’s residents were “like family.”

In recent weeks, police have become concerned about the number of teenagers killed by other young people.

“It is a sad and shocking reality that the leading cause of death among children and adolescents in America is now gun violence,” González said.

According to an analysis published last year by the journal Pediatrics, from 2011 to 2021, the rate of gun deaths among children under 18 increased by 87% nationwide.

Mr. Almond, of Brownsville In Violence Out, said it was critical that law enforcement officials and outreach workers team up to help the boy accused of the murder.

“We can’t let the system swallow it up,” said M. » said Amande.

As for Jasai, Michael Johnson, principal of Public School 161, which Jasai attended when he was younger, said the teen was a “special student.”

“He was a leader among his peers,” Mr. Johnson said.

Around 7:30 p.m., the mourners moved to the middle of the street. They prayed, chanted a countdown and said “Long live Jasai” while letting the white and blue balloons – as well as a golden J-shaped balloon – float into the sky.

Ed Shanahan contributed to the reports, and Kitty Bennett contributed to the research.

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