BUSHWICK, Brooklyn — The scene hasn’t changed at the intersection of Cornelia and Evergreen in Brooklyn.
PIX11 News returned to that intersection this year to cover a vigil for 14-year-old Akeal Christopher – as we did last year. It was a vigil held, in part, to continue raising awareness for his 2012 murder case which is still unsolved.
“Excuse my language, but how in the hell could someone put a bullet into my 14-year-old son’s head?” the victim’s mother said.
Life on that block also remains unchanged, because just a few minutes before the vigil got underway, almost a dozen shots rang out, right around the corner.
For Lupe Estrella, who still lives on this corner, it was the opening scene to a nightmare she still can’t escape.
It was Estrella who three years ago heard gunshots, ran outside, and found Akeal on the ground, convulsing with a gunshot wound to the head. He was struck by a stray bullet.
“Vividly, I just can just go back three years, as if it were yesterday. Yeah, his feet were shaking, his body was shaking,” Estrella said.
So you’ll have to excuse Lupe as she tries to keep her distance from the vigil.
She’s still shaken up over the day she tried unsuccessfully to save the life of Natasha Christopher’s young son.
“Blood is on the hands of all who knew something and did nothing,” Christopher said.
Other grieving mothers once again joined Christopher at this corner to remember Akeal, and make a desperate plea.
“We need to do better as a community, as people, as parents, as kids, to love and inspire other people to better, and to stop the violence,” one of those mothers said.
Because in spite of the so-called progress which has spread throughout Bushwick — on certain blocks — this is still a place where guns end conflicts on the street and force mothers to keep children at home.
“I feel like I’m confining my children. My home is a jail. Bars on the windows. Curfew. Super early. For a teenager. Yeah, on the windows. Bars everywhere. I have a child who is handicapped, I can’t take him out for fresh air,” Estrella said.