Police investigating a Harlem mass shooting on Monday morning that left a college basketball player dead and eight others wounded early are urging the public to come forward with tips to help them find the shooters responsible for the bloodshed.
Darius Lee, 21, a senior at Houston Baptist University, succumbed to injuries he sustained in the attack, according to the Associated Press. Lee had lived on West 138th Street in Harlem and was back at home for the summer break; he had previously been a hoops star at the Bronx’s St. Raymond High School for Boys.
Law enforcement officials said the gun violence happened at a gathering in the vicinity of 139th Street and 5th Avenue at about 12:36 a.m. on June 20 — destroying an otherwise peaceful Father’s Day/Juneteenth holiday in the neighborhood.
“The emboldened individuals responsible for this are exactly who our officers are battling every day to make our city safe,” said Police Commissioner Keechant Sewell in an early morning press conference Monday. “And while we are making some headway against violence, we have a lot of work to do, but we need help alongside the entire criminal justice system.”
Officers from the 25th Precinct, in responding to multiple 911 calls about shots fired in the area, found five of the victims on a nearby footpath along the Harlem River Drive. EMS units rushed them to area hospitals.
Video by Adrian Childress
Police later learned that four other victims wounded in the attack had left the scene, and were brought to local hospitals via private means.
According to WABC-TV, the victims — seven men and two women — ranged in age from 21 to 42. The nature of their injuries varied, with many shot in the torso, while others had taken bullets to their backs, legs and fingers.
But Lee, 21, died at Lincoln Hospital after having been shot in the chest, police said. According to AP, he had recently been named Houston Baptist’s Male Student-Athlete of the Year, leading the team in scoring and rebounding, finishing sixth in the country in steals per game, and getting a spot on the second team of the All-Southland Conference.
Houston Baptist Coach Ron Cottrell described Lee as a “remarkable young man” and a “joy to coach.”
“We are in shock and cannot wrap our heads around this news,” Cottrell said in a statement posted on the university’s website. “My heart breaks for his mom, his sister and his entire family, and for our basketball team… As great of a basketball player as he was, he was an even better person.”
Police units swarmed the area of the shooting as part of the investigation, which remains ongoing at this time. Officers recovered a handgun at the scene of the gunfire.
So far, no arrests have been made in the case, police said — and the NYPD is urging anyone who may have witnessed the mass shooting to come forward and help them bring the suspects responsible to justice.
“We know there were a lot of people out there,” said Deputy Chief Brian McGee, commanding officer of the Manhattan North Detective Bureau.
Anyone with information regarding the mass shooting can call Crime Stoppers at 800-577-TIPS (for Spanish, dial 888-57-PISTA). You can also submit tips online at crimestoppers.nypdonline.org, or on Twitter @NYPDTips. All calls and messages are kept confidential.
With AP reports