The father of one-year-old Brooklyn baby Antiq Hennis was pushing the baby in a stroller across the street when gunfire rang out. Antiq was shot in the head and pronounced dead at the Brookdale University Hospital and Medical Center on Sunday evening, shortly before 9 p.m.
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“He was screaming ‘My baby got shot.’ He was going crazy,” witness Gina Gamboa said of the father’s reaction. “The baby was breathing, but his eyes were closed. It’s crazy. They just will start shooting.”
CBS New York spoke to Cynthia Ballantyne, who heard gunshots but didn’t see the shooting.
“It was a child. I couldn’t watch that. I just get real sad; depressed, and I just came back here. It’s awful to be killing kids like that — you understand? It’s not safe anywhere. I’m scared to walk the streets right now.”
Police investigating the case said Monday morning that they believe the boys father was the target. They have some leads and believe his death, intended for his father, was gang related. Antiq’s father, Anthony Hennis, has a criminal record and is not cooperating with investigators to find his son’s killer, said Police Comissioner Raymond Kelley, but he didn’t elaborate.
Anthony Hennis had just picked up Antiq from the home of Antiq’s mother, Cherise Miller, and was taking him to see his grandmother
Hennis put Antiq in the stroller and was pushing him across the street in Brownsville when shots were fired. Hennis’ grandmother, Lenore Steele, said she heard shots before Hennis ran up to her.
“And he fell on the ground and said, ‘Grandma, my baby got shot! My baby got shot, Grandma!'” said Steele, flanked by community group leaders and mayoral candidate Bill Thompson. “He was such a beautiful little baby, smiling and talking to everybody.”
Grief and outrage over Antiq’s shooting loomed over the annual West Indian Day Parade about a mile and a half away, where Mayor Michael Bloomberg called the killing “a tragedy for his family, for this community, for the entire city” and of course, political candidates talked about gun violence.
Hennis and Miller couldn’t immediately be reached for comment Monday. Possible phone numbers for their homes were disconnected or rang unanswered, the offices of attorneys who may have represented Hennis were closed and activists who spoke at a news conference said Miller wouldn’t be making a statement Monday.
Bishop Willie Billips, who drove the parents to the hospital to identify the body of their only child, said, “The family is suffering right now.”
“To have to take a young couple to identify their baby’s body is horrible,” said Billips, of the Church of Faith, Hope and Charity.
Killings are at a record low in the city of Brownsville, and are on track to be even lower. Only 7 people have been killed so far this year, only about half for the same time as last year, but Mayor Bloomberg says, “That’s cold comfort to any grieving parent or friends.”
Brownsville is a struggling section of central Brooklyn, with a poverty rate about twice the citywide rate, according to a 2012 analysis of government data by New York University’s Furman Center for Real Estate and Urban Policy and Antiq Hennis was the second child in a stroller shot this year.
In March, a woman walking home from a post office in Brunswick, Ga., with her 13-month-old son was accosted by a gunman who demanded her purse and then shot her in the leg and fired a shot at the child in his stroller, killing him, authorities said. In another case of violence in New York, a 3-year-old boy was shot in the head and wounded Aug. 24 as he slept in his family’s Brooklyn apartment.