A 16-year-old teen was reportedly killed for his winter coat near his home on the Lower East Side of Manhattan late Friday night, according to the New York Post.
Raphael Ward was front of the DeWitt Reformed Church at 280 Rivington St. about 9 p.m. on Friday when he took one fatal gun shot to the chest from an unidentified gunman. Mortally wounded, Ward walked across the street to a convenience store and told workers that he had been approached by a group of people who had wanted his jacket. The teen was reportedly wearing a Marmot winter parka, which can sell for as much as $600.
The NYPD are currently looking at security-camera video that may have captured the murder. Cynthia Nieves, a friend of Ward’s, told The Post that she had met with him shortly before he was killed. Though he did not explain way, she says Ward told her, “go home.”
Nicholas Ramos, 18, said he and Ward went to get a slice of pizza across from the church, but Ward “stopped to talk to somebody and I went across the street to the pizza place, and that’s when he got shot,” Ramos said.
Ramos said he heard several shots, but waited a minute before he ran out to help Ward. The victim was later declared dead at Beth Israel Hospital.
A police source said Ward had one prior arrest in November 2011, for possession of pot and trespassing.
“It’s heartbreaking,” said his lifelong pal Will Claudio, 16. “We’ve been close friends since elementary school at PS 140 and he was always a good student, never in trouble, just a real good kid.”
“He was a baseball player, we played together with the Hawks and the Orioles, Boys Club teams, until we got too old and then he played basketball and he was a great basketball player in the community leagues, but he was also really humble,” Claudio recalled.
He added that Ward doted on his 7-year-old brother. “You would have thought that he was his son. In fact a lot of people did.”
His mother, Ali Delgado, was too distraught to talk yesterday.
Ward was seen as a talented athlete who was not known to start trouble. Residents in the Baruch Housing Projects where Ward lived told The New York Times that the teen may have hung out with people who were in gangs but he was not a known member. In fact, residents told The Times that he was an A student with a strong commitment to sports.
Ward was “soft-spoken and respectful” according to Omar Gibson, a neighbor of the slain teen. “He was built to be on TV, getting paid to play with a ball,” he said.
The NYPD has not released an official motive on the teen’s murder and no suspects have been arrested in the shooting. An investigation is ongoing.
New York State Sen. Daniel Squadron (D-New York) released a statement on Ward’s shooting:
“My thoughts and prayers are with the family of Raphael Ward. No parent should ever have to face the unspeakable tragedy of losing a child,” Squadron said in the statement. “We must continue to work together as a community to fight the scourge of gun violence and make our homes and our streets safer for our families. From stronger gun laws to improved safety at NYCHA developments, we are reminded far too often that the time to act is now.”