QUEENS — A South Jamaica corner where a 14-year-old girl was killed by a stray bullet while riding a city bus was named after her during a ceremony Friday.
A portion of Sutphin Boulevard between Rockaway Boulevard and 125th Avenue was renamed "D’Aja Naquai Robinson Way” after a prayer during which her family members, friends and elected officials held hands. They later released lavender balloons, D’Aja’s favorite color.
Robinson had just left a Sweet 16 party on May 18, 2013, and was riding the Q6 bus with friends when a stray bullet hit her in the head on Sutphin Boulevard, near Baisley Pond Park.
"My baby was only 14 years old when she lost her life at this very bus stop," said D'Aja's mother Shadia Sands, 39. "The past three years have been extremely difficult for myself and my family because all we can do is remember her and cry."
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The teen, who attended a Campus Magnet High School in Cambria Heights, was the unintended victim of a gang dispute, police said at the time.
The crime prompted the city the following year to launch the Gun Violence Crisis Management System, an initiative to reduce gun violence in areas with high rates of crime by using community interventions and anti-violence messaging.
Deputy Inspector Frederick Grover, commanding officer of the 113th Precinct, said that the street renaming "raises awareness to the efforts to reduce gun violence and shootings."
"Every time someone sees that sign ... it resets that message again and makes it stronger every time," he said.
In May, D'Aja's accused killer, 24-year-old Kevin McClinton, was convicted of murder and criminal possession of a weapon.
Councilman Ruben Wills who sponsored the street co-naming said he is currently working with other legislators on opening a youth center in Jamaica named after both D’Aja Naquai Robinson and gold medal winner and South Jamaica native Dalilah Muhammad, who became the first American woman ever to win the 400m hurdles at the 2016 Summer Olympics in Rio.