Police were searching this week for a suspect who opened fire on a large crowd at a barbecue in Springfield Gardens, leaving a community reeling with grief after he killed a 20-year-old Cambria Heights man and sent six others to the hospital, officials and residents said.
“This terrible shooting is such a tragedy,” said City Councilman James Sanders (D-Laurelton). “A young man lays dead and six others are wounded in area hospitals — one of them with a life-threatening condition.”
NYPD officials said they were looking for a suspect they described as a 20- to 25-year-old black male who is about 5-foot-8 and wore a black hooded sweatshirt and dark pants. According to police, the suspect shot Cambria Heights resident Dane Freeman in the head around 2 a.m. Sunday morning.
Freeman, a former student at John Bowne High School in Flushing who worked as a baggage handler at John F. Kennedy International Airport, was pronounced dead at the scene.
Six others between the ages of 19 and 25 were also shot, and Wesley Felix, 23, of Jamaica was listed in critical condition at Jamaica Hospital, police said. The others who were shot were brought to Jamaica Hospital and North Shore Manhasset.
“Dane was a very good-hearted person,” Keisha M., a friend of Freeman’s who attended school with him at John Bowne, wrote in an e-mail. “He was very outgoing, loved basketball and never disrespected anyone. I just saw him two weeks ago, and he told me to call him,, but I never got a chance and now I regret it. I wish I (could) just spend one more day with him. He should have never left like that.”
Keisha did not want her full last name to be used.
The gathering was originally said to have been a reunion for JHS 231, a couple of blocks from the event at 182-06 145th Drive, but others have said it was instead a general party. Hundreds of people ended up attending the event after Sanders said individuals posted information about it on social networking sites Facebook and Twitter.
“The party spun out of control and apparently people had done just about everything wrong,” Sanders said. “They put this information on Facebook and Twitter and did not alert the local precinct and certainly not my office. They had no idea of crowd control and more than 300 people showed up.”
Sanders noted anyone throwing a block party has to fill out an application they can obtain from community boards.
“This should serve as a cautionary tale that there are reasons for rules,” Sanders said. “Had the rules been followed, we may not have lost this life and this tragedy may been, probably would have been, averted.”
About 40 people marched from Guy R. Brewer Boulevard to the site of the shooting Sunday afternoon.
“To these punks who run rampant in our community, it’s over,” said Erica Ford, the president and chief executive officer, at LIFE Camp Inc., a Queens nonprofit that aims to help troubled youth.
A friend of Freeman’s at the event said the man who died was a “great person” and a “great son.” The friend did not want to give his name, but said he was at the party and heard the gunfire. “I didn’t think nobody got hit,” he said.
Anyone with information about the suspect can call the NYPD at 1-800-577-8477. The public can also submit their tips by going to nypdcrimestoppers or by texting their tips to 274637 and enter TIP577.
Reach reporter Anna Gustafson by e-mail at agustafson
©2010 Community News Group
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