NEW YORK: A gunfight broke out on a Brooklyn street during a funeral service where at least one shooter returned fire from inside the church vestibule, leaving two dead and four others injured, according to police.
Three men opened fire on a crowd outside Emmanuel Church of God in Brooklyn’s East Flatbush neighborhood Monday evening, police said. Mourners had gathered there for the funeral of 38-year-old Jose Luis Robles, who had died of natural causes.
Police said 15 rounds were fired, and some came from within the church vestibule.
Investigators on Tuesday were looking at whether the shooting was a gang-related retaliation, examining surveillance video and interviewing witnesses.
The street in front of the church was blocked off Tuesday as elected officials, community organizers and pastors gathered for a rally across Flatbush Avenue.
Councilman Jumaane Williams, whose district includes East Flatbush, said he will push for funding for jobs so young people won’t be on the streets.
“We must find jobs for our young people. It’s summertime, almost. I want my young people to have work experience and to be extremely tired at the end of the day,” he said.
He and Borough President Eric Adams urged the media not to describe the shootings as gang related. They said that may spur retaliatory violence.
Focusing on gang affiliations tends to suggest that someone is not worthy, he said, adding “all life is worthy of being honored.”
Sharieff Clayton, 40, of the Bronx, and Ronald Murphy, 44, of Brooklyn, were killed. A 38-year-old woman and a 29-year-old woman were also struck and were listed in stable condition early Tuesday. It’s not clear whether those injured were intended targets, or random victims.
A 40-year-old man with a gunshot wound to the stomach was discovered a few blocks away and may be one of the gunmen on the street, police said.
Several cars sped away after the shooting and no arrests have been made. Police said a silver vehicle seen near the church was stopped in a different Brooklyn neighborhood.