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N.Y. 3-YEAR-OLD KILLED BY STRAY GUNFIRE

SHARE N.Y. 3-YEAR-OLD KILLED BY STRAY GUNFIRE

Ed McKay scanned the bullet-riddled room in the Brooklyn apartment where his 3-year-old nephew was killed while sleeping on a pullout couch.

"Maybe where you live, children are not being shot, but this violence is a cancer and creeping, and it won't be long before it is in your neighborhood, too," he warned.The boy, Ben Williams, was hit by one of 18 bullets sprayed through the metal front door of his grandmother's four-bedroom apartment in the Walt Whitman housing project about 4 a.m. Thursday.

He was the city's third child in a week to die from stray gunfire.

"When a child can't sleep in his own bed comfortably, the city's got to wake up," McKay said Thursday.

The shooting in the Fort Greene section devastated the boy's grandmother, Susie O'Garro, who often cared for others' children, said McKay.

Earlier this week, 1-year-old Yaritimi Fruto and 9-year-old Veronica Corales were killed by stray gunfire in the East New York section of Brooklyn. Fruto was shot in the head by a gunman who killed her father. Corales was struck in the head as she slept in her family's car after returning from a New Jersey amusement park.

Housing Police Chief Vincent Pizzo said three weapons were used to fire 18 shots through the first floor apartment where young Ben Williams was killed and his 15-year-old sister was grazed. Thirteen other shots were fired through a second-floor apartment door where no one was hurt.

"I think there's too many illegal guns in this city and too many people not afraid to use them," Pizzo said. There have been several drug-related shootings at the complex, he said.

Timothy O'Garro, 26, another uncle of the dead boy, said an older brother of the victim was recently released from prison. "My mother told him, `Don't come here at all,' " Garro recalled.

However, Chief of Detectives Joseph Borrelli said authorities were not sure the brother was the intended target. He was not in the apartment during the shooting, police said.

"These are the rumors that are flying around. We're not satisfied that that's the reason," said Borrelli.

In the apartment, a tiny white teddy bear rested upside down against a wall. Several strollers were neatly stacked nearby. Bullets also struck the stereo and television, and a kitchen towel was taped over the large bullet holes in the front door.

Family members pointed out 22 pictures, many including the victim, displayed in the room where the boy was shot.

Neighbor Paula Perry said she was "going to miss the little boy. He was smart. He asked me for cookies. If somebody told him `no' he would go ask somebody else."

The tragedy overwhelmed neighbor Lilly Ramos, who has spent all of her 21 years at the housing complex.

"They shot a 3-year-old over there last year," she said, pointing to an area where children played. "He lived.

"Why? Why this little boy?" she asked. "I hate this neighborhood. I want out of here."