MOUNT VERNON, N.Y. - Mount Vernon Mayor Richard Thomas called out the City Council regarding police staffing after thousands of dollars were raised in the memory of Shamoya McKenzie, the 13-year-old girls basketball star who was shot and killed in the city on New Year’s Eve.
The Shamoya McKenzie Foundation, which was created earlier this year following the teenager’s death, hosted its inaugural event at the Eastwood Manor in the Bronx over the weekend, raising thousands to fulfill the organizations mission of engaging the youth of different communities in physical and educational activities and workshops that aid the awareness and prevention of gun violence.
“The Foundation will give inner-city youth the tools needed to reach their ultimate goals,” Israel Williams, the co-founder of the Shamoya McKenzie Foundation said. “It will also help in setting up checkpoints to make sure they are aligned with those goals. It will also provide resources to support students.”
Mount Vernon Mayor Richard Thomas offered the keynote address at the gala and issued a proclamation to the Foundation commemorating the event. He called it “a celebration of her life, but a reminder that we have much work to do to truly honor her memory.”
“Let us not forget that it was the City Council, led by the Council President (Marcus) Griffith, stripped the role of Police Commissioner from the budget and cut 21 police officer positions. These decisions showed poor leadership and a total disregard for the safety of the people of Mount Vernon,” he said in a statement.
“It is my sincere hope that their decision to attend this Gala marks a sign that they are rethinking their decision to abandon public safety. How many more mothers and fathers must bury their children? How many more young people must lose their friends senselessly? Enough is enough.”
Earlier this year, Thomas and Schools Superintendent dedicated a Graham Elementary School park to the slain teenager, who was allegedly gunned down by 22-year-old David Hardy, who is facing a second-degree murder charge.
At approximately 2:30 p.m. on New Year’s Eve, McKenzie was a passenger in the car when she was struck in the head by a stray bullet that was allegedly intended for another man involved in gang activity. McKenzie was transported to a nearby hospital, where she was pronounced dead. A second victim was also struck in the shooting, suffering non-life threatening injuries.
A star for both the Mount Vernon Junior Knights, Lady Elites and the High School JV Lady Knights, McKenzie had dreams of attending the University of Connecticut to play under coach Geno Auriemma before making her way to the WNBA.
Thomas said that Hardy was a seasonal employee for the city, and his position was terminated in December after he failed to show up for his assignment. He was hired by a former administrator, who is no longer working for the city.
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