Today’s news:

Rockaway man sentenced in football player shooting

"The victim was a stellar student and star athlete at Christ the King High School in Middle Village who was slain in a senseless act of violence," Brown said. "I hope that his family receives a measure of solace knowing that the defendant has been sentenced to a lengthy prison term."

According to court testimony, Sealey got into a fight with Johnson's cousin on Jan. 10 and took his cell phone. Shortly after, Johnson and two friends confronted Sealey on Beach Channel Drive and Beach 57th Street, close to the football player's home. The group was trying to settle the dispute and asked that Sealey return the phone, according to court testimony.

Sealey flashed a gun, Brown said, and Johnson and his friends backed down. As they walked away, Sealey opened fire at the group, discharging seven rounds from a .380 semi-automatic handgun, according to the DA.

A bullet struck Johnson in his right eye, police said. He was pronounced dead 40 minutes later at Peninsula Hospital.

Sealey turned himself in to the 101st Precinct in Far Rockaway days later, the DA said.

Johnson, 17, was the captain and star running back of his varsity football team. He began playing sports at age 6, signing up for the Far Rockaway Little League. His athletic prowess and academic achievements caught the eye of several prestigious schools, leading to recruitment letters from Yale, Princeton, Harvard, Bucknell and Columbia.

A born-again Christian, the teen was buried in his uniform. His death was a blow to the community, and several local state and federal legislators attended his funeral.

Johnson's mother and father spoke during Sealey's sentencing, during which the defendant maintained his innocence, according to Newsday. Juanita Johnson said her daughter Tierra, 18, and sons Travis, 13, and Tysean, 7, have not recovered from the shock of their brother's death. She asked for an end to senseless violence.

Thomas Johnson Sr., his father, said his son achieved more in 17 years than do most people who live to old age.

Reach reporter Matthew Monks by e-mail at or call 718-229-0300, Ext. 156.

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