BROOKLYN (PIX11) – 18-year-old Tamara Gaskin said her two, little sisters, Saniyah—now 9—and Breanna, 6, still keep pictures on the wall that they drew for their late mother.
Last December 10th, Saniyah’s mom took her to Brookdale Hospital with a severe asthma attack. When Saniyah was released several days later, her mother, Shalema, wasn’t there to take her home.
“She said, ‘Mommy’s been hurt,’” Tamara Gaskin recalled recently.
Mommy had been killed.
In the early hours of December 11, 2012, 32-year old Shalema Gaskin decided to make the four block walk from her apartment to Brookdale Hospital. She had spent all of Monday, December 10th, at the hospital with 8-year old Saniyah. Her husband relieved her in the evening, so Shalema Gaskin could go home to put her youngest daughter to bed.
“She woke up about 1 am, and she said ‘She’s going back to the hospital,’” Tamara Gaskin told PIX 11 about that night.
Shalema Gaskin never made it to the back entrance of the hospital on Hegeman Avenue.
“Somebody believes they heard a shot, a gunshot, about 2:30 am,” said Detective Kevin McDonough of Brooklyn South Homicide. “A passerby found Shalema Gaskin on the floor, behind the hospital, in a pool of blood.”
The mother of three had been shot once in the back of the neck. She was rushed into the operating room at Brookdale Hospital, but surgeons couldn’t save her. Gaskin was pronounced dead about 8 am, while her middle daughter slept in a hospital room upstairs at Brookdale.
When asked if her mother had enemies or if she could think of a reason why someone would shoot Shalema Gaskin, her oldest daughter replied, “No. And honestly, I’ve been trying to figure that for almost a year. I honestly have nothing.”
Tamara Gaskin unlocked her mother’s cell phone and I-Pad so detectives could search her messages. They found no evidence of any threats against Shalema Gaskin, who worked full-time as an office assistant in lower Manhattan. There was no sign anything was missing from Gaskin’s purse, at the crime scene. “Nothing!” Tamara Gaskin told PIX 11. “She had everything on her. Cell phone, I-Pod, jewelry, money.”
46 hours after Shalema Gaskin was murdered, a man was killed less than a mile away with the same gun, on Buffalo Avenue—near Lincoln Terrace Park.
“Steven Evans was shot one time in the right eye, one time in the upper back, and one time in the lower back,” said Detective Mike Windsor of the 77th Precinct.
When asked if investigators found any connection between Shalema Gaskin and Steve Evans, who lived in the Bronx, Detective Windsor replied, “No.”
In the Evans case, police do have a witness to the shooting, who told them two men and a woman were walking on Buffalo Avenue, when one of the men crossed the street, confronted Evans, and then shot him.
What followed next makes the case more intriguing. The witness said the shooter went back across the street, gave the.380 caliber handgun to the woman, and she placed the weapon in a pink bag.
Yes, a pink bag.
Police know the gun was a .380, because of ballistics evidence from both crime scenes.
The two men and the woman kept walking southbound on Buffalo Avenue, making a left turn on East New York Avenue.
Then, another piece of evidence.
A surveillance camera from the Walgreen’s Pharmacy on East New York Avenue captured the shooter walking alone, eastbound on 98th Street—at the side of the pharmacy.
Detective Windsor showed the surveillance to PIX 11, showing “a black male….wearing dark colored pants, a light colored hoodie, and a dark-colored hood.” Detective Windsor said the light-colored hoodie looked like a popular brand you’d buy in one of the designer-chain stores.
When Tamara Gaskin learned a second person had been killed with the same gun that took her mother’s life, she was already despondent. “I wasn’t talking, I wasn’t in school, I wasn’t working.”
Gaskin told PIX 11 she had stopped eating.
Then, a month later, when a new year began, Tamara Gaskin made a decision to pull herself together.
“I was like, ‘Just do what I have to do. Make her proud, start school. Get a job.’”
Tamara Gaskin recalled the lessons she learned from her mother. “She taught me how to be independent, not to depend on nobody. But she also taught me to be smart and caring.”
Tamara Gaskin is now working two jobs and making plans to study psychology in college. She is living with her biological father in Queens, while her two, little sisters live with their dad in Brooklyn.
“I love them, and I know they’re going to grow up to be wonderful people, wonderful women,” Gaskin said.
There is a $22,000 reward for information leading to an arrest and conviction in the Shalema Gaskin case. The same reward is there for information leading to an arrest and conviction in the Steven Evans murder. Anyone who can help police with even the smallest detail is asked to call Crime Stoppers at 1-800-577-TIPS.
Tamara Gaskin finished her PIX 11 interview with an appeal. “Please speak up. You have three girls without a mother…a six year old and an eight year old. We need to know who did this.”