Case Of 16-Year-Old Accused Of Shooting Up Bronx Street Prompts Criticism Of NY's Raise The Age Law

The case of a 16-year-old alleged gang member who is accused of shooting up a street in the Bronx, causing a terrified little girl in the way of the bullets to flee in terror, is prompting harsh criticism of the Raise the Age law, which New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo signed in 2017.

According to The New York Post, Edgar Garcia, an alleged member of the Los Vagos gang that police say is engaged in an “ongoing dispute” with rival gang Los Cholos, could possibly have his case transferred to Family Court because the Raise the Age law forbids the automatic prosecution of 16- and 17-year-olds as adults. Garcia is accused of firing three rounds at a 19-year-old man and four others on February 22.
After Cuomo signed the bill in 2017, The New York Times reported:
Some sections of the new law are simple: 16- and 17-year-olds accused of misdemeanors — who make up the vast majority of juveniles arrested — would have their cases handled in Family Court. The picture gets more complicated, however, with nonviolent felony cases, which would still start in Criminal Court, albeit in a new section known as “youth part” and in front of judges trained in Family Court law.
Once there, the 16- and 17-year-olds would be automatically sent to Family Court after 30 days unless a district attorney proved “extraordinary circumstances,” a term that is undefined in the law. Those arrested in violent felony cases — which make up about 1 percent of the more than 20,000 juvenile charges in New York per year — could also be diverted from youth part if they pass a three-part test: whether the victim sustained significant physical injury, whether the accused used a weapon, and whether the perpetrator engaged in criminal sexual conduct.
After the bill went into effect in October 2018, Cuomo stated, "At a time when President Trump and this federal government are taking us backward, New York is moving forward with bold criminal justice reform. By raising the age of criminal responsibility, New York is putting an end to an injustice that falls disproportionately on people of color and once again proving that we are the progressive beacon for the nation. In New York, we will never stop fighting for a more equal and more just society for all."
The video of the incident, which has gone viral, shows the suspect wearing a navy hoodie aiming his firearm at a group of people while a young girl in pink leggings who had been walking toward the suspect flees the scene. The group also fled, leaving the gunman to eventually run away.
Residents of the neighborhood acknowledged that the neighborhood has become a frightening place to live; one said, “We don’t go out. We don’t go to the park. I keep my kids in the house. We’re scared.” Another commented, “People don’t feel safe. People shooting in the street like that? No one is safe.” A third commented of the young girl, “She is lucky. Like an angel is watching over her because she was really close.”
Garcia was arrested last Friday on charges including attempted murder and criminal use of a firearm. NYPD Chief of Detectives Dermot Shea said that the police had found Garcia after some “old-fashioned” “pounding the pavement,” adding, “It wasn’t hard, people were outraged . . . the whole country I think has seen this video of the little girl. I’m happy to report significant progress on this. We have the shooter in custody as we speak. … Great work by our Bronx detectives.”
Bronx Supreme Court Justice John Collins made Garcia’s release contingent on either $10,000 bail or $25,000 bond, he made bail and he was freed. As The New York Post explains, “The law already guarantees that he can’t be held in a jail that also houses adults — and if convicted, his sentencing judge would have to take his age into account.”
On Monday, prosecutor Daniel Defilippi indicated he would try to stop the case from being transferred to Family Court. Assemblywoman Nicole Malliotakis, referring to the case as a “prime example” of the problems with the Raise the Age bill, said, “One of the things we brought up during debate was how this encourages gang recruitment. Gangs can recruit young people to do dirty work because they won’t be treated the same when caught.”
Video below:

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