New York Post


Hoops star, 21, slain, 8 injured in shooting

- By LARRY CELONA, TINA MOORE and AMANDA WOODS Additional reporting by Haley Brown, Kenneth Garger and Jorge Fitz-Gibbon

A mass shooting in Harlem claimed the life of a local hoops star and wounded eight other people early Monday, leaving a total of at least 20 victims shot citywide in fewer than six hours.

The senseless carnage, along with other gun violence that left at least 13 other people shot in the city Friday through Sunday,

ominously signaled the start of a hot and bloody summer, which officially begins Tuesday.

“It’s only going to get worse,” a veteran NYPD detective in Manhattan predicted to The Post.

“Unless the [Manhattan] DA starts enforcing these gun laws, this violence will continue, and it’s going to be total anarchy in the summer.”

Two women and seven men, including college basketball player Darius Lee, 21, were shot at a gathering near the intersecti­on of East 139th Street and Fifth Avenue around 12:40 a.m. Monday, according to the NYPD.

Lee, a 6-foot-6 standout senior at Houston Baptist University in Texas, had just come home from school for the summer and was hit by a stray bullet meant for someone else, authoritie­s said.

He was pronounced dead at Lincoln Hospital — as his mother franticall­y scoured the neighborho­od begging for news of her son, a local activist said.

“The thing that broke my heart was the mother . . . saying, ‘I know you can help me find my son,’ ” community organizer Iesha Sekou told The Post.

“The mother was later told her son was at Lincoln Hospital, and when the family went there, they found out that he had terminated life, that life had ended for him,” Sekou said. “So I really want people to feel that.’’

Rapper Rich Rhymer was trying to film a music video nearby when a dispute broke out between two groups and the shooting occurred, cops said.

Cops were investigat­ing whether a dispute involving Rhymer and his planned video sparked the shooting, law-enforcemen­t sources said.

The surviving victims were another 21-year-old man, a 22-yearold man, two 24-year-old men, a 31-year-old man, a 42-year-old man and two women, ages 22 and 23, cops said.

“It’s Father’s Day weekend,” Police Commission­er Keechant Sewell said Monday. “It’s a weekend where people were supposed to be able to enjoy themselves with their families.

“The emboldened individual­s responsibl­e for this are exactly who our officers are battling every day to make our city safe.”

‘An innocent kid’

Lee’s father, Eric, said his son was a “victim of the streets.”

“My son always said he wanted to be on TV. He got his wish but in the wrong way,” Eric Lee, 50, told The Post. “He got it all right — a victim of the streets.”

The grieving dad called the increase in shootings “ridiculous” and something needs to be done.

“It has to stop. Innocent bystanders. Innocent. He didn’t deserve this,” he said.

Lee attended SUNY Sullivan Community College before transferri­ng to Houston Baptist after his freshman year.

He attended St. Raymond HS for Boys in The Bronx.

“I had heard about the shooting in Harlem, but I was just so devastated when I came to find out that Darius Lee was the victim who was killed,” said Jorge Lopez, who coached the hoopster at the Catholic high school.

“I’m completely heartbroke­n. He had everything going for him . . . He loved coming back and monitoring young people.’’

Chris Williams, an assistant coach at St. Raymond, added, “He was an amazing young man, starting to get to the height of his athletic potential.

“He was the model citizen, a great friend, an amazing kid,” Williams said. “He was the best I’ve ever been a part of in my life.

“I know that people say this all the time when you have senseless murders and killings, but he was truly special.

“He was one of the top players in his conference, an amazing

athlete. He played in Dyckman Park with me, actually won the championsh­ip in 2018, was the MVP.”

‘The soft cops’

The Manhattan detective ripped Manhattan District Attorney Alvin Bragg for his progressiv­e policies that have included not seeking bail or prison time for most nonviolent defendants and downgradin­g certain felonies to misdemeano­rs.

“The criminals know to come to Manhattan because they know they’re going home after they’re arrested,” the detective said.

“And any cop who came out in the past eight years? We call them the eight-year cops,” the veteran cop said.

“They came out under [former Mayor Bill de Blasio], are the soft cops, and you can’t blame them. That’s the way they were trained. They want to negotiate everything, and you can’t negotiate with criminals.”

Mayor Adams, meanwhile, said he was in Harlem until 2 a.m. after the shooting.

“We are going to continue to zero in on removing guns off the street,” the mayor said.

“But we have to move even further to ensure dangerous people go to trial and [get a] determinat­ion that they are guilty and serve

time,” he said.

The nine victims of Monday’s shooting in Harlem were among at least 20 people shot citywide between 8:45 p.m. Sunday and 2:30 a.m. Monday, law enforcemen­t said.

The victims of those shootings included a 45-year-old woman, who was an innocent bystander when she was shot in the back during a gathering on Nelson Avenue near West 174th Street in Morris Heights in The Bronx, cops said.

She was taken to St. Barnabas Hospital, where she was listed in stable condition.

On Father’s Day overall, nine people were shot in seven incidents in the city. That figure included those wounded after 8:45 p.m. but not the nine Harlem victims shot early Monday.

Six people were shot in as many incidents Saturday, and two people were shot in as many incidents Friday.

The city saw more gun bloodshed on Sunday’s date last year, with 13 people shot in 10 incidents, cops said.

On Saturday’s date in 2021, four people were shot in as many incidents. On Friday’s date, there were three gunshot victims in as many incidents.

 ?? ?? SHOCK AND ANGUISH: Two young women react early Monday after a shooting in Harlem, which left one dead and eight wounded.
SHOCK AND ANGUISH: Two young women react early Monday after a shooting in Harlem, which left one dead and eight wounded.
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 ?? ?? ‘PRAY FOR US’: Tiara Lee (near left) holds a photo of her brother Darius Lee (left), a basketball star at Houston Baptist University in Texas who was killed in Monday’s shooting in Harlem, where cops found this pistol (right).
‘PRAY FOR US’: Tiara Lee (near left) holds a photo of her brother Darius Lee (left), a basketball star at Houston Baptist University in Texas who was killed in Monday’s shooting in Harlem, where cops found this pistol (right).

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