Teenage anger exploded from the barrel of a gun Friday in Cambria Heights and claimed the life of an innocent 13-year-old, police said, causing an outcry from community leaders sick of violence and death.
As family members mourned Kevin Miller, 13, who was struck in the head by a stray bullet while walking home from Campus Magnet High School in Cambria Heights, police in the 105th Precinct arrested a fellow student on suspicion of firing the fatal shot.
Springfield Gardens resident Nnonso Ekwegbalu, 16, was charged Sunday with second-degree murder, weapons possession and assault charges in the death of Kevin and the shooting of another teen in the leg.
As police were questioning the suspect Sunday, Kevin’s relatives were coming from as far away as North Carolina to pay their last respects to a boy who served as an usher at New Jerusalem Baptist Church in Jamaica, was a junior minister and attended Bible study every Thursday.
“I would have never thought in my wildest dreams something like this would have happened to him,” Kevin’s tearful mother, Donna Greaves, said Saturday in front of his childhood home in South Jamaica. “Yesterday morning I took him to school.”
According to a criminal complaint filed by the Queens district attorney’s office, Nnonso got into a fight with three other teenagers in front of a car wash at Linden and Springfield boulevards around 3:15 p.m. Friday.
Nnonso allegedly pulled out a gun and fired several shots, none of which hit the teens with whom he was fighting, the DA’s office said. One bullet hit a 17-year-old boy in the thigh, police said. He was taken to a hospital and was expected to recover.
The other bullet hit Kevin in the head. He was pronounced dead at the scene.
Nnonso fled the scene and discarded the gun in Springfield Park, the DA’s office said. Witnesses later identified him as the shooter, according to the complaint. He was arraigned Sunday. If convicted he faces 25 years to life in prison, the DA’s office said. His next court date is Oct. 19.
Police initially detained another Campus Magnet High student, Nmesoma Okafor, a defensive end on the school football team who was initially identified by a witness and arrested despite protests from the coaching staff that he had been at practice when the shots rang out. Okafor was questioned and released.
Greaves, who moved with Kevin and her other two sons to St. Albans six years ago, said her family has received an outpouring of support from the school.
“I’ve gotten nothing but phone calls,” she said. “He was so well-mannered, so well-behaved.”
Kevin’s father, Kevin Miller Sr., appeared at a news conference Monday decrying the violence.
“Seeing my son killed there, that’s me there,” he said.
City Councilman Leroy Comrie (D-St. Albans) warned that while crime is down overall in the city this year, murders, rapes and felony assaults are on the rise in two of the three precincts in southeast Queens.
“The area where Kevin Miller was murdered on Friday has always been a hot zone for trouble, especially in the immediate hours after schools let out. But despite the requests of community residents and elected officials for more enforcement, our local law enforcement have simply lacked the manpower, funding and support to meet those requests,” he said.
Mayor Michael Bloomberg also addressed Kevin’s death during a visit to St. Albans Monday morning to plant trees with singing star Bette Midler.
“Our prayers go out to his friends and family,” he said. “This is one of those tragedies that sort of defies explanation. I don’t know how we as a society go on with tolerating these guns.”
But the mayor also pointed out that crime had dropped 14 percent since last year and Cambria Heights was not a high-crime area.
“The crime rate in this neighborhood is not particularly high and has been coming down along with other neighborhoods,” he said. “We’re just never going to have the money to put a cop on every block all the time.”
Reach reporter Jeremy Walsh by e-mail at jewalsh@cn
©2009 Community News Group
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