HARLEM — Days after a man was shot to death in a neighborhood bar, advocates are calling for peace instead of retaliation.
Jarel Mitchell, 22, was killed at Harlem Nights at the corner of 138th Street and Adam Clayton Powell Jr. Boulevard about 3 a.m. Friday. The owner of the bar, Claud Fatu, has heard people say Mitchell's friends and family want payback.
“If the retaliation never ends everyone is just going to keep on killing everyone,” he said. “It’s just making our community unsafe.”
Fatu was at the bar during Friday’s fatal shooting. He heard three gunshots and saw everyone dropped to the ground. Mitchell, who was shot in the back at point-blank range, tried to crawl out of the bar but collapsed near the door. A bartender held his head until paramedics arrived and took him to the hospital, the owner recalled.
Mitchell was pronounced dead at Harlem Hospital, according to the NYPD.
There was no fight or argument before the shooting, the suspect walked right up to the victim and opened fire, Fatu said.
Detectives told him Mitchell was the intended shooter and it is likely retaliation for another shooting that happened in the summer.
The NYPD did not confirm or deny possible motives. They simply said it was an active and ongoing investigation. Other media outlets have reported that Mitchell had an extensive criminal record including more than a dozen arrests.
Iesha Sekou, founder of Street Corner Resources and activist who has been speaking out against violence in Harlem for decades, is organizing Wednesday’s rally with Fatu. They are inviting churches, mosques, the police, neighbors and community leaders.
“This is a communal effort to end violence,” she said.
Sekou has also heard from locals that people close to the victim might retaliate. Her nonprofit is part of a national program that responds to shootings within 72-hours to reduce more violence, she added.
The goal of Wednesday’s rally — scheduled for 1 p.m. in front of the bar — is to encourage peace and help the neighborhood respond to the fatal shooting, which was the first murder in the 32nd Precinct so far this year.
“Right now it’s just a statistic,” Fatu said. “It shows up on TV and it’s ‘someone gets shot in a bar in Harlem, he had a record,’ rather than we don’t stand for this as a community. The record doesn’t matter. Everyone’s life is important to us and we are not just going to be a statistic.”
Harlem Nights had two security guards patting down male customers the night of the shooting. Fatu will now hire a female guard to pat down guests and buy metal detectors for them to use.
He called the extra security measures, “horrible” and “insane” but unfortunately necessary to keep everyone safe.