Death is so much more than the end of life

Maramis Choufani is the Managing Editor of the Las Vegas Tribune.


Maramis Choufani is the Managing Editor of the Las Vegas Tribune.

The information for this column was taken from a story in the New York Daily News. Journalists Brittany Kriegstein, Rocco Parascandola and Leonard Greene worked on the story. Unfortunately, it seems to be a story that never ends.
Words like “When is it going to end?” or “We can’t let this ever happen again!” And yet, here it is, again, and again, and again. Words, unfortunately do not stop the shootings. People — men, boys, women, and children, including even babies — continue to die. Lives are forever changed. And yet those responsible seem to be oblivious to the consequences of their actions.
When is what going to end, you ask. Another senseless killing. This time, the shooters shot a one-year-old child while targeting three adults at a family gathering. Samantha Gardner, the little child’s grandmother, wasn’t at the barbecue Sunday night, which apparently was for several family members on the mother’s side. She heard the news of baby Davell being shot from the mother, and was the one who had to share that devastating news with the boy’s father.
But there is more to this particular sad story than just the absolutely senseless shooting of an extremely young child—a baby, actually, who wasn’t even two years old. He probably was closer to two, but they gave his age as one. He lingered on in life for about three hours after the shooting, then succumbed to death from being shot in the stomach while at the Maimonides Medical Center, never having had a chance.
The child, Davell Gardner Jr., was the first and only child of Davell Gardner Sr. and the baby’s mother, whose name was not given. Davell was sitting in his stroller parked at the Raymond Bush Playground in Bedford-Stuyvesant, Brooklyn this past Sunday, July 12, 2020 when he suffered a barrage of gunfire, obviously intended for others who were at the family-type gathering. Three grown men were wounded at that gathering, two in the ankle and the other in the groin. They will likely all be fine. Only the baby died during that late-night shooting.
The police on the scene said that two men stepped out of a dark-colored SUV and opened fire at the playground where Davell’s assorted family members were lingering after their cookout. This was at approximately 11:35 p.m.
Mayor Bill de Blasio went to the scene of the tragedy after learning about it in an email shortly after awakening in the morning. He went to speak to Davell’s mother, who was still in shock, sitting on a stoop across from the crime scene. “None of us can imagine what she’s going through, but we’re going to be there for her,” de Blasio said after his visit. “We’re going to come help her in every way, and try to make sure no other mom goes through it. It was horrible to see the shee pain and shock that she’s in.” How can they, we or anyone, make sure that no other mom goes through this? It’s been said before, and yet here it is again. And there will be others. What can we do to see that there are fewer such instances?
I can offer a few suggestions, but in doing so, I do not wish to hurt the family of the late little Davell. I do not know any of his family, but if anything I say in any way applies to them, or to anyone who might wonder if such a thing can happen to them, then it will be worth my writing these thoughts. The only reason I write this is to help AVOID this kind of thing from happening again.
First, I want to address having a baby that young out at 11:30 at night. Of course there are always reasons, but if there were enough people there, at the playground, to have a party, surely out of love for the child, to say nothing of his safety, especially in a rough neighborhood, one person could have volunteered to stay home with the child. If this is a common happening, different family members could take turns so the same person wouldn’t always miss out on the fun.
Surely if there ever was a thought that such a thing could happen, there would have been many volunteers. I suggest parents of children keep that thought in mind.
Next, out of all the people that those two men in the dark-colored SUV could have shot that night, why did they pick those men at that family get-together? Since I do not know the answer, and it might have been a random shooting, I can only make a supposition that might help others to see a bigger picture. If someone has been, or is, involved in something such as selling drugs or any kind of activity that could cause others in the same enterprise to seek revenge on them if something went wrong with a deal, or a large amount of money is involved, or even some kind of jealousy that would lead to feelings of wanting to kill, it is not a good idea to be at a get-together with others that you care about, out in the open, at night, in a neighborhood where you could easily be found and can be an easy target, and where those around you could easily be accidentally shot at the same time. Don’t say it can’t or won’t happen. It just did. (Remember, this is not accusatory. I do not know any of the facts. They haven’t been presented yet. But I’m suggesting “What if” kind of things that can be avoided.)
And this is the kind of thing that could possibly be avoided if police were patrolling the neighborhoods at night, especially in what might be considered rough neighborhoods, but showed up at random times so no one could know where they were or when. A police presence costs money, so defunding them is not a good idea as those who need the police can clearly see.
“They need to stop this gun violence,” Davell’s grandmother said. Who can argue with that? But as I said above, words don’t stop the killings. She added, “… And it’s not fair. It’s not fair to the grandparents. It’s not fair to the mother. It’s not fair to the father, the whole family in general.” And while she didn’t specifically say it’s not fair to the child, we all know that those shooters just cut down one tiny budding flower of a human being who will never be able to hug his father or tell his mother and grandmother or anyone else that he loved them. Not being fair is putting it too mildly.
“So, when is it going to end? When are these young African American men…when are they going to stop with the shooting and the killing of all these innocent kids? It don’t make any sense.” Samantha Gardner said little Davell was close to his aunt and his godmother, and even at that young age loved football. In trying for a softening touch, she added, “He got his wings, he’s an angel.” But she quickly added, “he shouldn’t have to go that way. No kid should have to go that way,
whether they’re 1-year old or they’re 15, 16 years old.”
Such shooters usually do their dirty and despicable work in the dark and in such a way as to insure their getaway. That’s their M.O. Their mistakes are just that to them, but to the ones who suffer from the death of a loved one, death is so much more than just the end of a life.
As the adults and guardians of our children, we must be thinking all the time. We can’t afford to make mistakes we can’t fix.
* * * * *
Maramis Choufani is the Managing Editor of the Las Vegas Tribune. She writes a weekly column in this newspaper. To contact Maramis, email her at

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