A U.S. Army veteran was struck by a stray bullet on Tuesday while shielding children on a sidewalk after gunfire broke out in East Harlem, New York.
Wilbert Grier, 59, was hit in the upper body when an altercation between two groups of young men led to an exchange of gunfire on Fifth Avenue and East 118th Street. According to the New York Post, Grier said “the adrenaline kicked in” and he jumped into action to protect a group of children playing nearby.
“We had to shield the kids, because they were shooting this way,” he said. “We had kids playing [outside] and then we had kids inside the store.”
“I knew I was hit, but I knew that I might have to take another one, for the kids,” he continued.
After he was wounded, the Army vet said he and a local deli worker fled into the store. Grier was later transported to Harlem Hospital and is expected to make a full recovery.
On Wednesday, law enforcement arrested 18-year-old Jabari Albright and charged him with attempted murder in connection with the shooting. In surveillance footage reviewed by The Post, a gunman is seen shooting on the sidewalk in broad daylight, firing across the street as a group of people take cover and flee on foot down the street.
In an effort to combat gun violence in the city, New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo declared a state of emergency for gun violence earlier this month, marking the first of its kind ever enacted in the United States, the governor’s office said.
According to Cuomo’s office, the emergency declaration requires the New York State Division of Criminal Justice Services to “gather and share incident-level data” from local law enforcement on gun violence and invests almost $140 million in intervention, prevention and jobs programs.
The order also establishes the Office of Gun Violence Prevention to “coordinate efforts and direct resources to emerging gun violence hot spots” and creates a new state police gun trafficking unit to stem the flow of illegal firearms into New York.
“This new strategy treats gun violence as a public health crisis, using short-term solutions to manage the immediate gun violence crisis and reduce the shooting rate, as well as long-term solutions that focus on community-based intervention and prevention strategies to break the cycle of violence,” Gov. Cuomo’s office said in a statement. “The disaster emergency allows the State to expedite money and resources to communities so they can begin targeting gun violence immediately.”