By Jennifer Peltz and Jonathan Lemire
Police investigating the death of a 1-year-old boy shot in the head in his stroller said Monday they believe his father was the target.
Authorities have some leads in the killing of Antiq Hennis on a Brooklyn street on Sunday night and believe his death may be gang-related, police Commissioner Raymond Kelly said. Antiq's father, Anthony Hennis, has a criminal record and wasn't cooperating with police in their investigation, said Kelly, who didn't elaborate.
Hennis, 21, had just gone to pick up Antiq at the home of the baby's mother, Cherise Miller, and take him to visit Hennis' grandmother, police said. Hennis put the boy in the stroller and was pushing him across a street in the Brownsville neighborhood when shots rang out, police said.
Hennis' grandmother, Lenore Steele, said she heard shots before Hennis ran up to her.
"And he fell on the ground and said, 'Grandma, my baby got shot! My baby got shot, Grandma!'" said Steele, flanked by community group leaders and mayoral candidate Bill Thompson. "He was such a beautiful little baby, smiling and talking to everybody."
Grief and outrage over Antiq's shooting loomed over the annual West Indian Day Parade about a mile and a half away, where Mayor Michael Bloomberg called the killing "a tragedy for his family, for this community, for the entire city" and political candidates talked about gun violence.
Four shots were fired, and one hit Antiq in the left side of his head; he was declared dead on arrival at a hospital.
Hennis and Miller couldn't immediately be reached for comment Monday. Possible phone numbers for their homes were disconnected or rang unanswered, the offices of attorneys who may have represented Hennis were closed and activists who spoke at a news conference said Miller wouldn't be making a statement Monday.
Bishop Willie Billips, who drove the parents to the hospital to identify the body of their only child, said, "The family is suffering right now."
"To have to take a young couple to identify their baby's body is horrible," said Billips, of the Church of Faith, Hope and Charity.
While killings hit a record low in the city last year and are on track to drop further this year, Bloomberg said, "that is cold comfort to any grieving parent or friends."
As of Aug. 25, killings and shootings were down about 26 percent compared to the same time last year, the mayor's office said. In the police precinct that includes Brownsville, there had been seven killings this year, half as many as during the same period last year.
Brownsville is a struggling section of central Brooklyn, with a poverty rate about twice the citywide rate, according to a 2012 analysis of government data by New York University's Furman Center for Real Estate and Urban Policy.
Antiq's killing was at least the second case of a toddler being shot to death in a stroller this year.
In March, a woman walking home from a post office in Brunswick, Ga., with her 13-month-old son was accosted by a gunman who demanded her purse and then shot her in the leg and fired a shot at the child in his stroller, killing him, authorities said.
In another case of violence toward toddlers in New York, a 3-year-old boy was shot in the head and wounded Aug. 24 as he slept in his family's Brooklyn apartment.