A teenager who recently moved from East Harlem to New Jersey with his family was fatally shot in his old neighbourhood when he’d gone there to bid goodbye to his granparents.
Justin Streeter was fatally shot in the head on Tuesday when a gunman fired a volley of bullets inside a deli on East 128th Street in East Harlem around 4.30pm.
The 14-year-old, who recently graduated from middle school, was taken to a nearby hospital, where he died later, the police said.
Justin and his best friend, a 15-year-old, had gone to the deli on Tuesday. As they were leaving, they were caught up in the shooting. They both tried to run but Justin was hit fatally on his head.
The other teen was hit by a bullet on his leg, police said, adding that he is expected to recover soon.
Video footage from a cellphone also showed police officers trying to save Justin as he lay on the ground wounded.
The police are yet to find a motive for the shooting, and are on the lookout for the unidentified gunman, believed to have been wearing a grey sweatshirt and blue jeans.
According to police officials, seven shell casings were recovered from the scene of the shooting.
“He was a child just going to the store with his best friend, and they took my son from me,” Justin’s father Damon Streeter told CBS News.
“I couldn’t … I couldn’t leave to go home without my son,” he said, adding that he couldn’t help but sit across the street from the sidewalk where his son was killed.
“I don’t know what to feel, but I know my son is in a better place right now. And I want justice. Justice.”
Justin’s grandmother Sheila Smalls described him as a “good kid” and “very loveable” who was about to start high school in the fall. She urged Mayor Eric Adams to “do something” as “a lot of kids are being hurt”.
Police have launched an investigation, and are looking for any video evidence. Anyone with information regarding the incident has been asked to come forward.
“We cannot allow this gun violence to continue. We cannot allow our young people to fall victim to gun violence,” NYPD chief of patrol Jeffrey Maddrey said.
Meanwhile, investigators have not ruled out a case of mistaken identity.
Requesting anonymity, a witness told NBC New York that Justin’s family had recently moved from East Harlem to New Jersey, and that the teen had visited his old neighbourhood to say his goodbyes.
“They supposedly had moved out to New Jersey to create a new life and get out of the ghetto, and they came to say goodbye to their loved ones and friends. And sure enough, it was the last goodbye,” they said.