A Brooklyn woman was shot to death days after she confronted a group of people who were setting off illegal fireworks in her neighborhood — apparently using her dying breaths to identify her attacker.
Thirty-three-year-old Shatavia Walls, concerned for the safety of nearby children, had asked individuals lighting fireworks near an apartment complex on July 4 to stop, her family said. She was killed days afterwards.
“The kids were playing right there in the park,” her mother, Helen Testagrose told the New York Daily News. “And they were shooting [fireworks] near the kids. And the little girl was hysterical. That’s why she asked them to stop."
Walls was shot multiple times at an apartment complex in Brooklyn on July 7. She died on July 17, according to Fox affiliate WITI.
Her family believes this was no coincidence and that the fatal shooting was directly tied to the fireworks dustup over the holiday weekend.
“I had seen her on the floor and she was laying there, and she said to me, ‘Ma I don’t think I’m going to make it,’” Testagrose told the Daily News. “She was on the floor. She was talking to me. She was telling me who shot her, saying it was the same guy from the other day.”
Witnesses said a scuffle had ensued between the Brooklyn mom and the shooter in the moments before she was killed on July 7.
“She was tussling with him before he pulled it out,” Walls' friend Erica Lee told the Daily News. “She seen him reaching for the gun and they was tussling for the gun. When they finally broke off, he shot one up but ran.”
Walls was shot eight times, according to the New York Post.
No suspects have been taken into custody, a spokesperson for the New York City Police Department confirmed to Oxygen.com.
In 2018, Walls was arrested by federal agents as part of a sting involving nearly a dozen members belonging to a Bloods-affiliated street gang known as the Mac Baller Brims, the Daily News reported. She pleaded guilty on drug trafficking conspiracy charges.
Walls hadn’t yet been sentenced, the outlet added. Her mother denied she was involved in any gangland activity.
“She was never in the gang,” Testagrose said. “It was her husband that got arrested. Whatever her husband is, she doesn’t know anything about that. He’s been in jail for the last three years.”
For New Yorkers, fireworks became a nightly annoyance for a large number of the city’s residents leading up to the Fourth of July weekend. The city registered 80 times more fireworks complaints in the first half of June than it did during the same period last year, according to the New York Times.
In July, the city announced it had arrested 127 people for smuggling pyrotechnics — and seized two shipping containers worth of fireworks, the New York Daily News also reported.
The surge in fireworks displays triggered a number of conspiracy theories and in some cases, led to tense neighborhood standoffs.
Olga Ayala, a 62-year-old artist who lives on Staten Island, woke up around 4 a.m. in late June to the sound of fireworks exploding outside her home.
“The building shook and it woke everybody up,” Ayala told Oxygen.com. “It was fireworks but to me it was more like dynamite. It was just like this blast. That startled all of us in the house.”
The culprits were her neighbors, she said. A verbal altercation ensued. Ayala’s daughter later went downstairs to confront them.
“Her boyfriend, who also lives here, went down behind her with a bat … so he was down with a baseball bat,” Ayala said.
She also posted about the encounter on social media. She said the neighbors later apologized — but it appears the choice of confrontation in Walls' situation may have ended differently, as her loved ones alleged.
Walls was described by friends and family as a loving and fierce community leader.
“Sha is a tough but huggable teddy bear,” Lee told the Daily News, apparently referring to her friend with a nickname. “I mean in the world we live in you can’t let people abuse you because we women. But you see where we live, we grew up tough. Sha loved kids. Because they respected her. Even when their mothers are upstairs not watching them, Sha was watching them. Even when she didn’t even know the kids. Even little kids. She was the protector.”
Walls loved to cook and will be remembered for her culinary talents, her family and friends said.
“Shrimp, lobsters. crab legs. so it don’t matter, we eat," Lee said. "And she’s Italian too so we got the best of both worlds."
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