'He is, in fact, the gunman': A top cop rejects the mother of a suspect accused of fatally shooting a 10-year-old boy at a barbecue.
The city's top cop dismissed a Queens mother's argument Wednesday that her son was being falsely accused of the weekend shooting death of Justin Wallace, 10, at a family barbecue.
Police Commissioner Dermot Shea stated that they apprehended the correct individual.
“The individual in custody has been charged with Justin's death and is, in fact, the gunman,” Shea told WPIX 11 News.
Additionally, the police commissioner stated that no additional suspects were being sought.
Jovan Young, 29, had been apprehended approximately 12 hours earlier for the Saturday night shooting on Beach 45th St. near Beach Channel Drive in the Edgemere section of the Rockaways, in which Justin and his 29-year-old cousin were wounded.
Justin was rushed to St. John's Episcopal Hospital, where he was pronounced dead three days before his 11th birthday. According to prosecutors, a single bullet struck Justin in the abdomen, injuring his heart and left lung. Kyle Forrester, his cousin, was shot in the back three times, once in the hand, and once in the neck. Prosecutors have stated that he is still in critical condition.
Young was remanded in custody without bail following his Wednesday arraignment on murder and other charges.
Young appeared on camera at his Queens Criminal Court arraignment and stood quietly in the holding cell wearing the same white jumpsuit he wore the night before when detectives escorted him out of the 101st Precinct station house in Queens. Prosecutors asserted that Young's identity was established through witness testimony, three distinct photo lineups, and video evidence.
However, Young's mother stated that he did not commit the crime.
Young's mother and sister blamed one of his friends for the weekend shooting in an interview with the Daily News on Tuesday.
“I've watched the video a hundred times,” the suspect's mother, Inita Young, 56, said. “I don't see my son in it at all. He surrendered because he has nothing to conceal. I don't want my son to bear the brunt of the blame.”
Young's girlfriend, who is also the mother of his two children, stated that Young and his friend could easily pass for brothers.
“His friend is the same height, weight, and appearance as him,” the girlfriend, who requested anonymity, explained. “It is possible that they are brothers. That is not him; that is his friend. I am certain it is not him. He is not that type of individual.”
She stated that Young, the father of four and nine-year-old sons, would never do anything to endanger a child.
“Jovan is a father. Jovan has a greater stake in this than his friend,” his girlfriend stated. “I know he feels for the child because he adores children, and I know that when he learned there was a child involved, it broke his heart because he adores children.”
“Who saw him?” she inquired. “That individual was wearing a mask in the video. I don't see a face, and I don't see how they could identify him in a line-up. He knew nothing about these people. He lacks connections. There is no rationale for him to do so.”
She stated that the friend was embroiled in a dispute with the residents of the house where the shooting occurred. She stated that her friend is hiding and is being guarded by his family.
However, according to police sources, Young surrendered only after learning that investigators had recovered the gun used in the fatal attack.
The shooting was captured on surveillance video, which shows a man firing eight shots into the home from beyond a gate on the sidewalk.
According to sources, Young made no statement to cops upon his surrender. Shea lauded the detectives involved in the arrest.
“They worked nonstop. Indeed, they did,” Shea told NY1. “I owe them a great deal of credit. They took this extremely personally. I believe that incident disgusted the entire city of New York. We're just relieved that we can close that chapter for the family. However, the unfortunate reality is that it will never bring that young boy back. That is the true tragedy in this situation.”
Shea also confirmed the shooting's senseless motivation: an ongoing dispute over a shared driveway.
“All we have now is a gathering on that day, a friendly barbecue, and a disagreement over the shared driveway,” Shea explained. “This is not the first time words have been exchanged across that driveway. And that is the incident, if you will, that precipitated the conflict in which the individual later that day comes and shoots into the stairwell house, striking the two victims.”
Mayor de Blasio echoed Shea's frustration with the shooting's senselessness.
“While I was in his family's living room, they told me, "We cannot have him back. That is our greatest wish, but we also wish for justice. We wish and pray that the perpetrator is apprehended,'" de Blasio said.
“It will not bring Justin back, and it's heartbreaking to consider that he should be preparing for a long and wonderful life ahead of him. That is something that every parent understands. However, when someone does something wrong, we need to know and feel that real consequences will follow.”
According to authorities, Young has been arrested seven times previously in seven separate incidents dating all the way back to 2006, including six felonies.
Young, who is tattooed with the word "chaos," was arrested in 2012 for assault in a domestic violence case and for robbery with a weapon in 2016.