Here’s more on last night’s murder of 16-year old Raphael Ward, a resident of the Baruch Houses. A memorial has appeared outside a convenience store on Columbia Street where the teen was shot and killed shortly after 9 p.m. Police are still searching for the gunman.
The New York Times paints a portrait of an athletic, personable kid who may very well have had a bright future even though he was growing up in a pretty rough part of the neighborhood:
Raphael Ward was known in the projects of the Lower East Side for his tall lanky frame, his easy laugh and his devotion to nearly every form of sports, especially baseball. Raphael, who was 16, played shortstop for teams like the Pirates and the Hawks, organized by the local Boys Club, and fellow players said he was known for graceful fielding and a smooth swing.
Today there was a note taped to the door of the apartment Ward shared with his mother and brother urging reporters to respect the family’s privacy. Friends told the Times’ Colin Moynihan what they knew about last night’s tragic events:
Nicholas Ramos, 18, said that he was with Raphael on Friday night when a gunman approached, causing panic among a group of people gathered in a commercial plaza. Mr. Ramos darted into a pizza shop and Raphael sought shelter next door, in a candy store. Mr. Ramos said he thought Raphael emerged from the store a few moments later to see if the gunman was still outside. It was at that point that the gunman fired, striking Raphael in the chest and sending him reeling back into the store. The police said that as Raphael collapsed he spoke to a few friends inside the store, indicating that the person who shot him might have wanted to steal his jacket. Others who were gathered at the store on Saturday wondered whether the shooting could have stemmed from a simmering feud between youths living in the Baruch project and the nearby Riis Houses.
This afternoon, Manhattan Borough President Scott Stringer released the following statement:
I am deeply saddened by the loss of Raphael Ward and my thoughts and prayers are with his family. The Lower East Side has seen an increase in gun violence in recent months, most apparent within or near NYCHA developments, and we must redouble efforts to make our neighborhoods safe. My office allocated funds for security cameras for Baruch Houses in 2012 but only initial steps have been taken to install them. In the coming days I will be reaching out to NYCHA to expedite the installation of these cameras, which must no longer be delayed.