DOWNTOWN BROOKLYN — The family of Unique Smith, the 15-year-old boy who was gunned down at a playground in Brooklyn on Wednesday, is calling on his attackers to turn themselves in.
They’re also demanding that authorities and communities alike make guns unavailable to young people. In an exclusive interview with PIX11 News, Smith’s mother, grandmother, and grandfather spoke about how great their loss is, and how intensely they want to see justice done for the young man who was their son, grandson, and light in their lives.
“He’s just a sweetheart,” Smith’s mother, Dominique Simmons, said. “Nice, kind, won’t hurt nobody. He won’t harm anyone. He didn’t deserve this.”
The whole family is trying to make sense of their loss.
“I would trade myself for my son,” Simmons said. “I don’t know why it was him, and not me.”
“I can’t see him become the man I was looking for him to be,” his mother continued, “and I won’t get that chance.”
Smith was sitting in McLaughlin Park in Downtown Brooklyn with friends on Wednesday after his charter school, Brooklyn Laboratory, let out. Police investigators said that two young men wearing masks threatened the teen; punches were thrown and one of the attackers shot Unique Smith in the abdomen. The teen died after being taken to a nearby hospital.
“He used his hands, and somebody else used a gun,” his mother said.
The easy availability of guns, especially for young people, is something that Smith’s grandfather, Kenneth Davis, said needs to be addressed.
“Stop this gun pipeline from down south up north,” Davis said. “I just wish Congress would do something about this.”
Davis is an anti-violence activist. He said that what’s happened to his family shows how vital that work is.
“Arm them academically with knowledge, not with a handgun,” he said.
He also said that families, and members of the community, have to do the work to help get guns off the streets.
“Search the children’s bedrooms,” he said. “See what they have under their mattress. Get off your behind,” he admonished parents.
Echoing the message of the need for more involvement by families and loved ones was none other than NYPD Commissioner Keechant Sewell.
“It takes more than just the police department,” she said at a news conference on Thursday morning. “It takes the community.”
The NYPD has posted more officers at the park where the shooting took place, as well as at Smith’s school, while the search is on for whoever carried this out.
Meanwhile, there’s a message for the killer or killers, from Unique Smith’s family.
“Turn yourself in,” Deborah Simmons, the grandmother, said, “because Unique did not deserve this.”
The teen’s mother also shared a message.
“You took my son’s life,” she said. “So of course you have to pay.”
His grandmother continued, conveying the emotions of all of Unique Smith’s loved ones.
“To lose my grandson,” she said, “that’s a hurt feeling, because he was the life of the family.”