Police who have been making investigations into the shooting of 1-year old baby Antiq Hennis in Brooklyn, New York over Labor Day Weekend, say they have leads to indicate that the toddler’s death was gang-related.
Police Commissioner Raymond Kelly, told the press that the father of the baby, Anthony Hennis, who has a criminal record, would not assist the police with their inquiries. Although Kelly believes that Anthony Hennis was the intended victim of the shooting, he would not give any more details.
Anthony Hennis, 21, had just picked up baby Antiq and the baby’s mother, Cherise Miller, from her home. The pair, with the baby in his stroller, was heading toward his grandmother’s for a visit and set out to cross a street in the Brownsville neighborhood when gunshots suddenly echoed out. Four shots were fired, one of them hitting baby Antiq in the head.
Lenore Steele, Hennis’ grandmother heard the shots ring out just before she saw her grandson running up to her. She said, “And he fell on the ground and said, ‘Grandma, my baby got shot! My baby got shot, Grandma!’” Supported by angry and disgusted community leaders and the mayoral candidate, Bill Thompson, she went on, “He was such a beautiful little boy, smiling and talking to everybody.”
According to a New York Daily News report, the baby’s great-uncle, Chris Dobson, had also said, “He just started walking. He was vibrant. He was full of life… I can’t believe it.”
The shooting occurred approximately a mile and a half away from the West Indian Day Parade, part of the annual Labor Day celebration. Mayor Michael Bloomberg said the brutal killing was “a tragedy for his family, for this community, for the entire city,” while political candidates in the area had been speaking about gun violence. In the mean time, people interviewed after the killing were expressing how unsafe they felt to walk out in their own neighborhood, which is understandable, considering the fact that an innocent 1-year old has become the latest victim of a suspected gang-related shooting.
At the scene, baby Antiq was still breathing, although is eyes were closed, but by the time he arrived at the hospital, he was declared dead. Bishop Willie Billips had driven the parents to the hospital where they found themselves in the surreally mind-numbing and horrendous predicament of having to identify the body of their only offspring. Bishop Billips, of the Faith, Hope and Charity Church of God said:
“To have to take a young couple to identify their baby’s body is horrible… The family is suffering right now.”
Later, in an interview with CBS News, Bishop Billips was thoughtful and spoke slowly, as if in final realization of the magnitude of the horrific and tragic shooting:
“A young, innocent baby… slaughtered in the streets of Brownsville… something has to change here… it’s horrible. The young mother and young father are hurting badly. They lost a 1-year old child.”
Anthony Hennis and Cherise Miller, the baby’s parents, were not available to be reached over the Monday holiday. Phone calls went unanswered, attorney’s offices were closed and Miller would not make a statement. The mayor’s office had just reported that shootings were down 26 percent, compared to this time last year, with the amount of killings in Brownsville half of that of the year prior.
According to a study by the Furman Center for Real Estate and Urban Policy at New York University, Brownsville is a struggling area of Brooklyn, with high rates of poverty.
Baby Antiq is reportedly the second baby who has been shot dead in a stroller this year.
In March of this year, a woman was walking back home from a post office errand in Brunswick, Ga., pushing her thirteen-month old boy in his stroller, when a man wielding a gun confronted her for her purse. He then shot the woman in the leg, following up with another fatal shot aimed at the baby in the stroller.
Another case was reported on August 24, when a 3-year old toddler received a gunshot wound to his head as he slept peacefully in his family’s apartment in Brooklyn.
Little Antiq is the sixteenth under 16 victim to be shot out in the streets since mid-May, according to reports from the New York Daily News.
With anger and disgust spreading across the city at the horrendous fatal shooting of an innocent 1-year old baby, an appeal is being made to the public to come forward with any information leading to the capture of the perpetrator(s) of this suspected gang-related baby shooting.
By Brucella Newman