Police made an arrest Tuesday in the murder of a 10-year-old Queens boy who was gunned down at a family barbecue just a few days shy of his 11th birthday.
Jovan Young, 29, was charged with murder and two counts of criminal position of a weapon for the June 6 shooting that left Justin Wallace dead and his 29-year-old relative, Kyle Forrester, injured, according to an NYPD spokesman. Young was processed out of NYPD’s 101st precinct.
Wallace was celebrating his first beach day since the start of the pandemic with his family, three days before his 11th birthday, when a gunman opened fire on the barbecue, police said. The shooter allegedly fired eight rounds through the front door of Wallace’s relative’s house before driving off in a dark-colored SUV.
NYPD officials said they believed the shooting was linked to a dispute Forrester had with neighbors over the use and maintenance of a shared driveway. He had argued with neighbors earlier that day about parking in the space, they said.
The shooting was one of six in the city on Saturday, a day that left nine people injured or dead. It came amid an alarming spike in gun violence, with NYPD data showing a 78 percent increase in shootings over 2020. Mayor Bill de Blasio called the killing “a coward’s act” on Twitter and vowed in a Sunday press conference to find the killer.
“The idea you lose your child before you’re gone is just, there’s no words,” he said.
New York Police Commissioner Dermot Shea also visited the family Monday with other NYPD officers.
“It’s a beautiful day and it should be a day that their son is out here playing and I can’t imagine the pain that they’re going through,” Shea said, according to local affiliate WLNY.
Wallace’s family said the boy—nicknamed “Calculator” for his love of math—was the family’s star, showing love to people regardless of what they looked like.
“He’s there for you,” his father Albert Wallace, 57, told the New York Daily News. “He’s charming, he’s caring, he’s so intelligent.”
He wanted to take Justin for a day in the sun after a year of indoor isolation due to COVID-19, he said. That brought them to Rockaway Beach, a beach neighborhood in Queens, where the two and a classmate spent the afternoon. They later headed over to the relative’s house, where they joined a family barbecue. But just before they left, Wallace’s sister asked him for help in the basement, leaving Justin unattended by the front door. It was in those moments Justin was shot.
“That’s when I turned back with my son,” Wallace said. “If I didn’t turn back, my son would be alive today.”
A hearing has not yet been scheduled for Young.