A popular 16-year-old Lower East Side teenager was gunned down after he refused to hand over his expensive winter parka to a gang of thugs, the NY Post reports.
Raphael Ward became the first shooting victim of the New Year in New York City. Ironically, he predicted his own death on his social networking account hours before he was shot.
Ward, whose Facebook name was “BloccBoy Tokyo” wrote "I'm dead," according to friends. The teen was shot once in the chest in front of the DeWitt Reformed Church at 280 Rivington St. about 9 p.m. on Friday, according to the NY Post. Ward died near the apartment he shared with his single mother and younger brother. His mother was too distraught to speak to a reporter.
Witnesses described the gunman as 5-foot-6, 120 to 140 pounds, wearing a dark wool hat and a ski mask.
When he was accosted by the gang, Ward reportedly refused to hand over his Marmot parka which retails for as much as $600.
After he was shot, the popular student stumbled into a nearby convenience store still wearing the coveted coat.
Ward's distraught friend Cynthia Nieves, 14, said she met Ward just before he was gunned down. She said he warned her: “Go home!”
“He knew they were coming back,” she said.
Nicholas Ramos, 18, said he was with Ward when they went to get a slice of pizza across from the church. Ramos told the NY Post that Ward “stopped to talk to somebody." Ramos said he continued on across the street to the pizza shop, "and that’s when he got shot,” said Ramos.
Ramos said he heard several shots, but paused before he ran to help his friend. Ward was later declared dead at Beth Israel Hospital, the NY Post reports.
Ward was described as a "good kid" by friends. Police say Ward had one prior arrest in November 2011, for possession of pot and trespassing. Police are reviewing surveillance video that may have captured the assailants.
State Sen. Daniel Squadron called for more gun control to prevent such senseless crimes from occurring.
“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," he said. "From stronger gun laws to improved safety at NYCHA developments, we are reminded far too often that the time to act is now.”
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