Flushing youth, 18, slain outside his apartment

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Even as Melvin "Anthony" Nieves was mourned at his funeral Monday, detectives with the 109th Police Precinct were interviewing witnesses to find the killer who gunned down the 18-year-old outside his Flushing home last Wednesday.

As of press time, no arrests had been made in the shooting, which occurred outside Carlyle Towers co-op at 138-10 Franklin Ave., a building that has been managed by Nieves' father and grandfather for decades.

"I know they're working very diligently on it," said Deputy Inspector James Waters, commander of the 109th, of his detectives. "There are some leads they need to follow up on. Hopefully, some of those leads will pan out."

Nieves was shot once in the head at around 10:28 p.m. last Wednesday, according to police spokesman Officer Louis Cruz.

Cruz said Nieves had been arguing with another man before he was shot and that the suspect was an 18- to 20-year-old Asian man.

Waters said police believed Nieves had an argument with the suspect earlier in the evening when he caught the young man urinating on or near the building.

Nieves' family said that argument took place around 8 p.m., after the victim had waited with his girlfriend for her father to pick her up outside along Franklin Avenue. Waters could not confirm the information.

The commander said following the initial argument, the suspect left with possibly two others who were also Asian in what might have been a maroon Toyota Camry with tinted windows.

"We believe that car comes back a short time later and one male gets out," Waters said. "There's more of an exchange and at very close range Nieves is shot once in the head."

Waters was uncertain why Nieves was still outside the building when the suspect returned. But he did confirm that Nieves was not alone when he was shot and the witness or witnesses were currently being interrogated.

"This is not a case with no clues or leads, that's for sure," Waters said.

More than 150 mourners attended Nieves' funeral Monday morning at the family's church, St. Michael's, at the corner of Barclay Avenue and Union Street, just a few blocks east of the crime scene.

"Ordinarily someone dies after many years of life and usually after some kind of illness," said Rev. Edward Wetterer, who presided over the funeral. "But for our brother Anthony, death at a young age was very sudden indeed."

Wetterer said that like the crucified Jesus Christ, whose death "led him to be remembered in so many ways," Nieves' parents "will never forget the day, the hour and the way they lost their son."

Nieves was the oldest of four children. He had two younger brothers and a young sister who attended school at St. Michael's. Their classmates and teachers were present for the funeral.

Nieves grew up in the 15-story Carlyle Towers and surrounding neighborhoods. His mother's father had been the superintendent there for years and when he died, Nieves' father took over the position.

Last Thursday, the day after Nieves' death, his family and friends packed their basement apartment in the co-op to grieve as snow blanketed the borough.

Nieves' girlfriend, Karyn and her brother Ricky, who declined to give their last name, described the Nieves as someone who was always willing to do a favor for a friend.

Karyn, also 18, said she met Nieves through mutual friends and this week would have marked their one-year anniversary.

She said Nieves was a very "proud person" and very protective of her.

When the couple argued, she said "he never left a problem unsolved between us."

An acquaintance of Nieves said at his funeral he had been a "wild kid" as a teenager, but had slowed down his lifestyle to focus on his relationship with Karyn and to further his education.

Nieves graduated from Robert F. Kennedy HS in Flushing and began attending classes at the two-year Plaza College for Business in Jackson Heights in September.

"He was a definite asset to our school," said Linda Loffert, the school's associate dean and one of Nieves' instructors. "We're all really going to sadly miss him."

Loffert said Nieves had his sights set on a career in business administration and always adhered to the school's professional dress code and other standards.

"He followed those rules to a tee," she said. "He was a very good student, very serious about what he was doing."

"He's a good kid - starting out, getting into a profession," said Louie, who has been a porter at Carlyle Towers for 15 years and watched Nieves grow up.

On Monday, as mourners struggled to come to terms with the sudden end of such a promising young life, the Rev. Wetterer told the audience and Nieves' parents in particular what he thought the young man would say to them in death.

"He would say to you, 'Live the gift, the holiness, the goodness of life God has given you,'" Wetterer said. "'Take care of my brothers and sister. Do not let your sorrow weaken you, but live in hope and faith.'"

Updated 10:25 am, October 12, 2011
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