BEDFORD-STUYVESANT — The gunmen who opened fire on a crowded Bed-Stuy courtyard last week, killing two young moms, may have been retaliating for an earlier shooting, according to NYPD Chief of Detectives Robert Boyce.
Police now believe that the gunmen were targeting someone in the group hanging out the night of July 12, Boyce said, but hit bystanders Chynna Battle, 21, and Shaqwanda “Q” Staley, 29, Boyce said.
“They were not the intended targets, however we believe they were sitting next to someone who might have been the intended,” Boyce told reporters Monday at an unrelated press conference. “We think it has to do with a prior shooting back in May.”
It was not immediately clear what May incident Boyce was referring to.
Battle and Staley were hanging out in the courtyard behind 760 Gates Ave. near the corner of Stuyvesant Avenue at about 9:30 p.m. that evening when gunfire broke out, striking Battle in the head and Staley in the back, police said. Both were taken to area hospitals where they were pronounced dead, according to police reports.
Video of the scene captured a group of four men entering the courtyard just before the shooting, and Boyce said two of those men were believed to be the shooters. No one has been arrested for the double killing, but Boyce said tips have been pouring in from the community.
“We’re getting a lot of names,” he said. “We’re getting close.”
In the wake of the shooting, relatives and neighbors of the victims recalled Battle and Staley as dedicated mothers who were working hard to give their young daughters a better life.
Battle grew up in the neighborhood and lived in a nearby building where she was raising her three-year-old daughter Amelia. Staley grew up about a mile away near the corner of Hancock Street and Howard Avenue, and although she had recently left the neighborhood, she remained a beloved figure who frequently came back to visit, neighbors said.
At a vigil for Battle the day after her death, her mother, Mozelle Brown, called for justice for her daughter, blasting her death as a senseless act of violence.
“I want whoever did this to know that’s my child, she was a good girl and she died senselessly,” Brown said. “I want them to get whoever did this to my child, and if I can point them in the right direction I will.”