2 Men Sentenced in Connection with N.Y. Shooting Death of 22-Month-Old Baby

Davell Gardner Jr. was fatally shot in the abdomen while sitting in a stroller at a Brooklyn park on July 12, 2020

Gofundme Davell Gardner Jr.
Gofundme Davell Gardner Jr.

Two men have been charged in connection with the killing of Davell Gardner Jr., who was just 22 months old when he was fatally struck by a stray bullet while sitting in a stroller at a cookout in Brooklyn, New York, in July 2020.

The men, Dashawn Austin, 28, and Akeem Artis, 27, were sentenced on May 8 after being convicted in April on charges in Gardner’s death, as well as other charges, according to a press release from the Brooklyn District Attorney’s Office.

The release stated that both men — who were arrested in connection with the fatal shooting in May 2021 — are members of a “violent street gang,” called Hoolies. According to evidence presented at trial, "the reason for Hoolies to commit acts of violence include retaliation against rival gangs and to display the gang’s strength."

<p>Scott Heins/Getty</p> A program from the funeral of Davell Gardner Jr.

Scott Heins/Getty

A program from the funeral of Davell Gardner Jr.

Brooklyn District Attorney Eric Gonzalez said that, according to the evidence, Austin was seen entering an Audi driven by Artis on July 12, 2020.

The men drove onto Madison Street, where Gardner was attending a cookout at Raymond Bush Playground, per the release. Austin then fired into the park, hitting four people, including Gardner, who was struck in the abdomen and later died.

The other victims were three male adults, ages 27, 35 and 36, who were also hospitalized with gunshot wounds, the New York Police Department previously told PEOPLE.

Austin was convicted of second-degree murder and Artis was convicted of first-degree manslaughter for Gardner’s shooting death, per the release.

Austin was also convicted of three counts of second-degree attempted murder, while Artis was convicted of three counts of first-degree attempted assault in connection with the other three victims of the July 2020 shooting.

Courtesy Davell Gardner Jr.
Courtesy Davell Gardner Jr.

In addition to Gardner’s fatal shooting, the men were also convicted of other charges in connection with other “gang-related homicides and shootings,” per the release.

In a statement, Gonzalez said, “Today’s lengthy sentences must send a message to those engaged in gun violence that it will not be tolerated in Brooklyn. Senseless gang rivalries perpetrated by these defendants left six people injured and three people dead, including Davell Gardner Jr., who was shot in the abdomen.”

“Little Davell never got to celebrate his second birthday,” Gonzalez continued, adding, “My heart breaks for his mother and father and all the families and victims affected by such devastating gun violence. I commend my prosecutors and the NYPD for their determination to bring these defendants to justice.”

<p>LAURA BONILLA CAL/AFP via Getty</p> A memorial for Davell Gardner Jr. at Raymond Bush Playground in Brooklyn


A memorial for Davell Gardner Jr. at Raymond Bush Playground in Brooklyn

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During a press briefing following Gardner’s death in 2020, former New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio called the toddler's death "heartbreaking" and said the prevalence of gun violence is a "tragedy."

"Davell was just starting his life, and his life was full of possibilities," he added in a statement at the time. "This is not anything we can allow in our city, and it's heartbreaking."

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