Jaheim Smallwood, a 23-year-old resident of Red Hook, was fatally shot Tuesday, July 19 outside his home at 75 Bush Street.
Smallwood was raised in the Red Hook Houses. He is survived by his mother, brother, and young son Jalyn, who was holding his father’s hand when the shooting occurred.
Smallwood was attacked shortly after 8 pm after returning home from the Miccio Center, where he had made an appointment with career coaches and signed up for a GED program. Smallwood returned to Red Hook two months ago after five years of incarceration.
“He was a kid from around here just like all the other kids,” remembers Trequan Bekka, who works at the Miccio Center and Good Shephard Services. “He was taking the first steps to get himself going… he took the initiative, taking steps to be there for his son.”
Detective Nasser at the NYPD Deputy Commissioner of Public Information’s office says that the shooting was definitely intentional, possibly relating to some kind of dispute. Witnesses’ description of the shooter was vague, according to Nasser. As of Friday July 29, no arrests had been made.
Lillie Marshall, President of the Red Hook West Tenants Association, was with him that evening at the Miccio Center.
“When I left, he was signing up for the GED program,” says Marshall. “His life was snuffed out two hours later.”
Ms. Marshall had known Smallwood since his birth, having lived in the same court as his mother.
“I watched him grow up,” says Marshall. “He paid his dues, he did his time, and to come back and go out like that, that was rough.”
Bekka, who is a few years older than Smallwood, remembers the victim as lively and confident. He says that this shooting is a symptom of a larger problem of gun violence in the community, and of the elevation of that violence in Black and Hispanic music and television since the drug epidemic of the 80s and 90s.
“We’re still seeing some of that backlash,” says Bekka. “We’re in a bad space, and we glorify it.”
But Bekka hopes that Smallwood’s death will inspire change.
“You start to see the hurtfulness of it, the pain of it… it’s going to show our young people, you know, look at what we’re doing,” says Bekka. “We’re still a young culture – it’s just going to take time.”