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Jamaica teenage girl shot dead on Briarwood street

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Sequoia Thomas, 17, died face down in the middle of 160th Street near 85th Avenue after she was shot at least four times at close range, witnesses said."They had an argument. He pushed her, she tried to run away. After the first shot she screamed, 'Help me! Help me!'" said Segundo Cajamarca, a roofer working on a nearby house who saw the shooting as he was returning from lunch.Cajamarca, 36, said the assailant -- described as black with long hair and wearing a black jacket -- fled up 160th Street. Police temporarily locked down four nearby high schools -- Hillcrest, Bowne, Edison and Jamaica, where Thomas was a freshman -- but had made no arrests as of late Tuesday.Police said Thomas' boyfriend was initially a suspect but was eventually cleared.The murder has left neighbors in shock."I thought it was a BB gun at first, like kids playing," said Angeliki Teodorescu, 55, who saw the shooting from her kitchen window. "But it wasn't playing."Anna Bernstein, who lives on the corner of 106th Street and 85th Avenue, said she watched from her doorway in horror as Sequoia lay dying in the street."She was looking at me like I could help her," she said. "Then she just laid her head down."Brett Rosenthal, dean at Jamaica High School, said Thomas, of 177-34 106th Rd., was a truant whom not many people at the school knew very well."She cut a lot of classes," he said.At the time she was shot, Thomas had a small amount of marijuana in her possession, police said. Residents in the area where the shooting occurred say shouting matches between high school students are a frequent problem, but that no one anticipated violence."I lived here 40 years and nothing like this has happened," said Peter Kusmatatos, a neighbor.While police went door to door along the block where Thomas was killed, a teenager from the neighborhood stood at the yellow police tape shaking his head. "I hear birds chirping all the time," he said, "never gunshots.Reach reporter Zach Patberg by e-mail at news@timesledger.com or by phone at 718-229-0300, Ext. 155.

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