An New York City family is grieving over the senseless loss of a teen who was killed by a stranger while on his way to shoot some hoops.
Latrell Brown, 16, was allegedly killed by Justin Delapara, 17, who Brown reportedly did not even know. Brown, who loved basketball was headed to the court on Wednesday afternoon with his girlfriend Sabrina Tucker, when he had words with Delapara, the Daily News reports.
“Me and Latrell were walking, and this guy was making a face,” said Tucker, 17.
“Latrell asks the guy if he has a problem. He turns around and shoots him,” she told the Daily News. “I ran to him. I took my shirt and covered his head. I told him I needed him and loved him.”
Brown was killed outside a Macon St. building near Lewis Ave. in Bedford-Stuyvesant.
Brown’s family and friends held a vigil for the slain teen on Thursday night and lit candles and released white balloons in remembrance. Brown attended Brooklyn Law and Technical High School where he was scheduled to begin his senior year.
Michelle Armstrong, Latrell’s grieving mother, was overcome with emotion.
“How you gonna take somebody’s life like that?” she said. “What are you doing carrying a gun?”
Armstrong said Brown was an avid ball player. He was such a fanatic that “he used to sleep with a basketball.” Brown had just stopped home from his summer job doing maintenance at Public School 262, his mom said, before he walked to basketball practice and was shot and killed.
He was a shooting guard for the Brooklyn Ballers.
“He practices every day,” said the coach. “If he’s not playing or practicing with me, he’s outside playing in the street.
Brown’s brother Shahid said that he had an affection for science and wanted to work with animals.
The alleged killer’s father said he was shocked and spoke about his son in disbelief.
“He’s a good person,” said Dave Delapara, 48. “He goes to private school. Everyone in the neighborhood will tell you he’s decent.”
Delapara’s mother is a correction officer.
“I can’t believe he had it in him,” said next-door-neighbor Reginald Belgrave, 77. “He seemed to be a serious young man.”
Delapara “had everything going for him,” neighbors said.
“He had something simmering in him, pent up,” said a neighbor who wished to remain anonymous. “This is how he let it out.”
“We’re going to plead not guilty,” the defendant’s attorney Mitchell Elman said at his client’s arraignment in Brooklyn Criminal Court late Thursday.