Gang violence kills innocent college basketball star Darius Lee, police say in Harlem mass shooting

HARLEM, Manhattan (WABC) – A 21-year-old college basketball star was killed and eight others shot when gunfire erupted in Harlem.

It is believed that it was an exchange of gang shots that led to the death of an innocent young man.

Tuesday morning, family and friends of the man who was killed at the grill spoke late at night while police continued to search for the gunmen.

College basketball star Darius Lee, 21, graduated from St. Raymond High School in the Bronx in 2018. He was to graduate from Houston Baptist University next year.

Lee made his family, friends, coaches and teammates proud, and they honored him Monday night in Harlem and Houston.

St. Raymond High School posted a statement about the former student’s death in an Instagram post:

“We are devastated and devastated to hear of the meaningless passing of Darius Lee, class in 2018. Our prayers and condolences go to his family at this time, and we pray for his eternal rest with our Lord. Apart from being a huge “basketball star, he was a phenomenal man, and a young man who lived such a positive life, and succeeds at school, on the court and in life. These senseless acts of violence must stop … such a tragedy.”

He was shot and killed after gunfire erupted during a cookout along Harlem River station around 12:30 a.m. Monday.

Nine people were shot.

Seven men and two women, ages 21 to 42, were found in a park along the East River in the area of ​​Fifth Avenue and East 139th Street.

Two of the people who were shot have gang ties, and at least one of them may have been a gunman.

Very little surveillance video has been recovered due to the location of the shot, across from a crossing on the other side of the highway.

SE: Where the exchange of fire broke out and where the victims fled

It was specifically chosen, according to the organizer’s Instagram post, to evade the police.

“He’s an innocent boy,” Lee’s sister Tiara Weaver said. “He decided to be out one day and this is what happens.”

“He was a pure soul. So kind,” said his cousin Thailyn Lee. “Was not in the streets or anything. He was about basketball. He did not deserve any of this.”

Police found a gun from the scene.

Investigators believe at least three weapons were used to fire dozens of shots.

They are still trying to figure out how many.

So far there have been no arrests, and they are asking for the public’s help.

Mayor Eric Adams and the Chief of Police are expected to provide a new update on Tuesday afternoon.

In the wake of the shooting, Lee’s coach expressed sadness and confusion over the star’s untimely murder.

“Darius was a remarkable young man who loved the Lord, his mother, his family, his teammates, his friends and the entire HBU family,” Ron Cottrell, HBU’s head coach of men’s basketball, wrote in a statement. “We are in shock and can not wrap our heads around this news.”

Despite the violent circumstances surrounding Lee’s death, Cottrell added that his student-athlete left a positive legacy.

“As great as a basketball player he was, he was an even better person. I can not even think about basketball right now. I can only think about what light Darius was during his short time on earth. He was a joy to train, and we loved him so much, “Cottrell wrote.

HBU’s athletics director, Steve Moniaci, not only expressed grief over losing Lee, but also feared another gun violence.

“He was a very nice young man who had a very bright future ahead of him both on and off the field. Unfortunately, this is once again an example of the senseless gun violence that seems to plague our country right now, and we all ask that it will cease, “Moniaci wrote in a statement.

Lee’s impact on the pitch was also too hard to ignore.

This past season, he was a second team in the All-Southland Conference after leading the Houston Baptist in scoring and return. He was also one of the best defenders in the country, finishing in sixth place in the nation in steals per game.

Darius’ father Eric Lee says that his son was once chubby and not a child you would expect to become a star athlete.

But as a 21-year-old, Lee had earned one basketball scholarship after another and was a star at the university. He was not a young adult that anyone would expect to be a victim of gun violence.

Anyone with information is asked to call the NYPD’s Crime Stoppers Hotline at 1-800-577-TIPS (8477) or for Spanish, 1-888-57-PISTA (74782). You can also submit tips by visiting the CrimeStoppers website at crimestoppers.nypdonline.org or by sending messages on Twitter @NYPDTips.

As of June 20, there have been 277 mass shootings in the United States this year, according to the Gun Violence Archive.

There were 692 mass shootings in 2021, 611 in 2020 and 417 in 2019.
The Gun Violence Archive defines a mass shooting as a shooting with four or more people injured or killed, not including the perpetrator.

The KTRK sister station in Houston contributed to this report

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