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Crown Heights Shooting Ends 80-Day Violence-Free Streak, Group Says

By Rachel Holliday Smith | May 30, 2014 6:14pm | Updated on June 2, 2014 1:42pm
   Todd Edward Wilks, 37, was shot and killed on Thursday, May 29 on Albany Avenue in Crown Heights.
Shooting on Albany Avenue
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CROWN HEIGHTS — Neighbors and family members of Todd Edward Wilks said the 37-year-old was a good friend and a good father from a hardworking family.

“All of us are close,” said Michael Wilks, 52, Todd’s uncle, who spoke about his nephew outside a liquor store where a shooting ended the younger man’s life Thursday night, according to police.

“That’s my brother’s son,” he said. “There’s a lot of cowards out here.”

Wilks was found shortly after 7:30 p.m. on Thursday on Albany Avenue near the corner of St. Johns Place with multiple gunshot wounds to the torso, police said. The death has been ruled a homicide, according to a spokeswoman of the Chief Medical Examiner.

Crown Heights Shooting Video
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His uncle said Wilks, a father of two boys, had been in a fight with someone in the neighborhood over “nonsense” having to do with a car, but didn’t know specifics. He’s been told the shooting was in retaliation over that fight.

”You hear a lot of different versions of things,” he said. “My nephew beat a guy up and the guy came back and shot him.”

He said Wilks, who was known by friends as “Champ,” lived with his mother at the Albany Houses, a public housing complex located blocks from where he was shot.

Police released surveillance video early Saturday morning that shows a man bolting down a street, saying he is wanted for questioning in the killing.

Before the shooting, Wilks’ immediate neighborhood hadn’t seen a single act of gun violence for 80 days, according to Save Our Streets (S.O.S.) Crown Heights, a local anti-violence group. “Violence interrupters” who work for S.O.S. aim to mediate potentially violent situations in a forty-block target area which stretches from Kingston Avenue east to Utica Avenue and from Atlantic Avenue south to Eastern Parkway.

Wilks was shot within those blocks, ending a shooting-free streak that was the longest the group has seen within a year, S.O.S. staff said. The longest stretch without a shooting in the area, they said, was around 100 days.

There have been nine shooting incidences in the 77th Precinct that resulted in an injury so far this year, down more than thirty percent when compared to the 13 incidences that occurred in the same period in 2013, according to the most recently available data from police.

S.O.S. will hold a rally “to say no to gun violence” in response to Wilks’ death at the corner where he was shot, Albany Avenue and St. Johns Place, on Monday evening at 7 p.m.

On Friday, three friends of Wilks set up a candlelight vigil for him across the street from the complex where he lived and two blocks north of where he was shot. Cardboard signs, bottles of liquor and dozens of candles lined the sidewalk. The women who’d put them there said they’d known Wilks “since grade school” and that he was a “good guy,” but did not want to give their names. One candle among the dozens read “Champ you will be missed. Love, China.”