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Frank Francois, Jr., 16, was just an innocent bystander in a feud between two groups of teenagers outside his cousin's birthday party in the vicinity of Beach 15th Street his father said.
Francois was one of three teens shot at 283 Beach 15th St. in Far Rockaway. He was walking to the party, his father said. Another teenager, Rashard Peppers, 17, died at the scene, and a third, unnamed 17-year-old remained in critical condition at Jamaica Hospital, police said.
Francois was taken to St. John's Hospital, where he was pronounced dead, police said.
Jalah Knight, 25, of Far Rockaway was arrested Tuesday and charged with second-degree murder and faces up to 50 years in prison, according to Queens District Attorney Richard Brown.
Francois' family gathered Monday at the house where he lived with his mother, Phyllis Gamble. They sat around a table covered with leftover coffee cake and newspaper clippings that detailed the killing. They planned the wake, which was to be held Wednesday at Presbyterian Church of St, Albans at 119th Avenue and 190th Street from 4 p.m. to 8 p.m.
They remembered their lost son and young relative using words like "diligent" and "charismatic."
"It's a really hard blow," Francois said of his son. "He had real promise in life, lots of friends, lots of family."
"Frankie," as he was known to friends and family, was a junior at Newtown High School, an aspiring rapper and a talented basketball player who had earned a number of trophies, Francois said. The trophies, moved from his son's bedroom by family members, sat on a TV next to the Christmas tree.
Francois said his son was constantly surrounded by family, who warned him about associating with the wrong crowd and helped him out whenever they could. His son took heed, Francois said.
"He wasn't involved in no gangs, nothing illegal at all. He wasn't a troublemaker," he said.
But being in the wrong place at the wrong time countered all the familial advice he had followed.
The incident began when the shooter "became involved in a dispute with the victims on the street outside a house party in Far Rockaway," the DA said.
The shooter then "suddenly opened fire," the DA said.
"Two unassociated groups of guys had an altercation," said Francois. One of the groups had tried to crash the party and was told it was a private party before being turned away, the father said.
The two groups then ran into each other and an argument ensued as Frankie and a 17-year-old cousin were passing by, the father said. The two boys had just stopped at a store and were headed to the party. Neither boy knew the other people involved, Francois said. As the argument continued, the suspect starting shooting and was "firing wildly," Francois said.
Reach reporter Michael Morton by e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org or call 718-229-0300, Ext. 154.
©2004 Community Newspaper Group
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