J’Ouvert celebration start time changed to prevent violence, as mother mourns slain teen with daily vigil

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BROOKLYN — "It's been hard, I miss him."

Alima St. Clair still can’t wrap her mind around the senseless shooting that took her son Tyreke Borel’s life last September.

The 2017 J'Ouvert celebration's start time is being moved from 2 a.m. to 6 a.m. in an attempt to prevent the violence that has overshadowed the event. Two people, including Borel, were killed at last year's event, and one person was shot and killed at the 2015 event.

St. Clair recounts the moments detectives told her that her son lie dead at Kings County Hospital.

"It was around 8:30, a knock at the door. And they came and [asked] if my son's name is Tyreke Borel. I said yes. He was shot and soon passed away. I wasn't expecting this."

Borel was sitting on a bench alone during the annual J'Ouvert celebration on Empire Boulevard and Flatbush Avenue when he was shot in the chest.

"Two months after, he turned 18," St. Clair said. "I need to be held every year because he's two days before me."

Detectives say he wasn't the intended target, and they have not found the person responsible.

"How can you live with yourself? How can you go on living day by day enjoying life knowing that you took a life?" St. Clair said.

In an effort to make the celebration safer, the predawn event will be moved to daytime. The procession will start at 6 a.m. and end at 11 a.m.

The police commissioner said they will also add more cops to the parade route.

"We have a tremendous detail out there and I think working with the electeds and working with the community, not just being an NYPD thing, that's going to help us keep everybody safe," Commissioner O'Neill said.

Hazel Jones, the parade's cofounder, is not sure that the time change will help end the violence.

"I believe by moving it up to a brighter moment when it's six o'clock, even though it's a little still dawnish, they hope to alleviate some of that violence," Jones said. "I cannot say if that will really do it because you never know."

St. Clair said she doesn't think it will make much of a difference.

"People shoot and kill anybody at any time," St. Clair said. "I mean, day or night, it doesn't matter what time of the day, they do it."

St. Clair fondly remembers her son with a tattoo she never intended to get. He loved tattoos, and she swore never to get one.

She holds a daily vigil for her son with a single votive candle.

"I light it and let it burn. And when it burns out, I light another one. Just in his memory until we find out who murdered him, who took him away from us," St. Clair said.