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Police: Bystander John Edwards shot and killed amid night of gun violence in NYC

21 people shot in New York City on the Fourth of July
21 people shot in New York City on the Fourth of July 02:47

NEW YORK - On July 4 alone, 21 people were shot in 14 different locations across New York City.

One of those shootings happened in the Tremont section of the Bronx. An innocent bystander, a 62-year-old veteran who once worked for the Parks Department, was killed. His friends say ironically, he dedicated his life to making the streets safer.

As CBS2's Lisa Rozner reports, a memorial is growing for John Edwards, the unofficial "grandfather of the block," who police say was fatally shot on July 4 just after 10:30 p.m.

"Wrong place, wrong time, I guess, but how can you be at the wrong place at the wrong time when you're in front of your own house?" said Rachel Sanchez, a friend of the victim.

Friends say Edwards is a veteran and always sat in a blue chair on the sidewalk, doling out life advice and words of support.

Tuesday night, police released video of an SUV driving up the block. As it stops, you can see the gunshots being fired from the passenger side window.

Police say a 23-year-old man and 26-year-old man were targeted and injured in the shooting. Edwards was not targeted but was shot in the chest.

"At the end of the day, fireworks is going on and, you know, see him stumbling and I started and grabbed him and didn't want to let him go and tried to get help and it's too late," one neighbor said.

The Parks Department confirms he was a seasonal employee last working for them in 2018.

Watch Lisa Rozner's report

Innocent bystander shot, killed in the Bronx 02:39

His loss is part of the increased number of shootings that happened over this July 4th weekend compared to 2021. There were 27 shooting incidents on the holiday weekend last year, compared to 38 this year. The number of shooting victims nearly doubled from 32 last year to 52 this year.

The mayor still said the city's plan to combat crime is working.

"Our plan, which we're constantly modifying, constantly shifting, is moving in a direction that we want it to move into. Is it moving as fast as I want? No, I want it faster," Mayor Eric Adams said.

Gun arrests are up 4 percent this year compared to last year, but that is not a direct correlation to the number of guns seized, as you can have several arrests on one gun.

But people who live on Edwards' block say it's not enough.

"Every action has a reaction. He taught me that, and I will never forget," Sanchez said.

"We try to come together and live civil in this neighborhood, and I hope we can continue doing that, but it's really tough right now," a neighbor said.

As the focus remains on gun violence, the mayor's own team is not immune to crime.

READ MORE: Sources: Aide to Mayor Eric Adams robbed by armed men in Brooklyn

As CBS2's Kevin Rincon reports, on Tuesday morning, an aide to the mayor, 33-year-old Chris Baugh, was robbed by two armed men in Brooklyn. Police sources say the suspects blocked his path while walking along York Street in Vinegar Hill and demanded his phone and wallet before pushing him to the ground.

The aide told them, "You don't want to do this, I work for the mayor," according to sources. That's when one of the men lifted his shirt, exposing a handgun.

The mayor's office says that incident, among so many others, highlights the urgency to get dangerous guns and dangerous people off our streets as quickly as possible.

Overall, year to date, police statistics show homicides have slightly declined.

No arrests have been made in Edwards' death.

According to police, 18 people were shot overnight in 11 incidents. Three were killed.

Anyone with information about the gun violence is asked to call the NYPD's Crime Stoppers hotline at 1-800-577-TIPS (8477), or for Spanish, 1-888-57-PISTA (74782). You can also submit a tip via their website or via DM on Twitter, @NYPDTips. All calls are kept confidential.  

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