Wave of violence ends in murder

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Photo gallery

Shanta Merritt, whose son Darryl Adams was shot and killed in the South Jamaica Houses, hugs Darrell Lynch, who stopped by to pay his respects as Merritt was making a memorial outside her apartment building. Photo by Christina Santucci
Darryl Adams speaks about being shot during an interview in the hospital last year. Photo by Christina Santucci
Police allege two suspects depicted in the surveillance video killed Darryl Adams. Image courtesy NYPD
In connection with the shooting, police searched a Rosedale home and found five guns (above), according to the NYPD. Image courtesy NYPD
A raid of this Rosedale home uncovered five weapons, according to the NYPD.
Darryl Adams' aunt Shanton Merritt-Herndon writes a message to her nephew on a memorial outside his apartment building. Photo by Christina Santucci
Darryl Adams' mother Shanta Merritt (r.) hugs her son's girlfriend. Photo by Christina Santucci
Candles are lit at a memorial for Darryl Adams. Photo by Christina Santucci
Members of the Crime Scene Unit perform an investigation in St. Albans where Terrell Fountain was shot and killed and Darryl Adams was first shot. Photo by Christina Santucci
Crime scene tape blocks off the street as police investigate Terrell Fountain's killing. Photo by Christina Santucci

A mother is grieving and 13 youths have been arraigned following a fatal South Jamaica shooting Friday that sparked an outpouring of support from the community and a call for oversight hearings in City Hall.

The cold-blooded murder capped a series of shootings that had played out across southeast Queens since the summer and allegedly involved some of the youthful suspects charged in the killing of 18-year-old Darryl Adams early Friday morning in the housing project known as 40 Projects.

One elected official was haunted by the thought that the killing could have been prevented if the city had moved the victim’s family to a safer neighborhood.

At about 12:30 a.m. Adams was gunned down outside South Jamaica Houses near the corner of 107th Avenue and 159th Street, police said. The shooting occurred about seven months after Adams survived a bullet wound he received in St. Albans.

Immediately after the first shots were fired, an officer operating a surveillance camera captured Adams running along a sidewalk and collapsing on the ground. The footage then showed two men walk by, and one of them fire again while Adams was on the ground.

Seconds later, an unmarked police car arrived on the scene and arrested two teenagers: 16-year-old Alexander Burgess and 19-year-old Sean Barnhill. They were charged with murder and criminal possession of a weapon.

Shanta Merritt does not know whether Friday’s murder of her son was related to the earlier incident when he was shot, but police have started making connections to other southeast Queens shootings.

The NYPD said Saturday it had raided a Rosedale house at 142-19 Hook Creek Blvd. and made 11 other arrests that were related to Friday morning’s shooting.

On the same day, the NYPD said it had charged both Burgess and Barnhill with earlier attempted murders in two separate incidents in southeast Queens.

Out of the 11 other youths arrested at the Rosedale house, two were charged with the same attempted murders.

One of the teens, 17-year-old Dontaye Goines, along with Burgess, allegedly shot a man Feb. 25, according to the NYPD.

Another, 17-year-old Romain Brady, along with Barnhill, is accused of shooting a man March 1, according to the NYPD.

Also in the house were eight other young men, including two minors, and a young woman.

When police recovered five handguns from the premisis, all of them were charged with criminal possession of a weapon, police said.

A day later, Adam’s mother was outside their apartment complex at South Jamaica Houses, neatly placing rows of candles along a window sill in a memorial to her son and hugging some of the friends and family who came to pay their respects.

Adams was active in several basketball programs, including the Police Athletic League, where her son helped members of the NYPD’s 103rd Precinct win ball games on the court.

“Half the 103rd Precinct knew my son,” she said.

Adams was also in the process of getting his GED in order to accept a sports scholarship at SUNY, his mother said. On the day of the murder he was set to talk to a guidance counselor about the test.

Instead his mother had to start making plans for his funeral.

The video and news of the shooting stunned City Councilman Reuben Wills (D-Jamaica), who had been helping Merritt get a transfer after her son was shot over the summer.

“My entire office was taken aback by it,” he said. “They were devastated.”

In June, Adams was walking home early in the morning when he was shot in the buttocks along with three other teens in St. Albans.

Adams made a recovery, but his friend, 18-year-old Terrell Fountain died.

After the shooting, Merritt said her son did not talk much about the death of his friend. Instead he wore a picture of the slain teen around his neck, she said.

Merritt and Wills are making sure that Adams’ death is not forgotten.

Wills is planning to hold oversight hearings in April about the New York City Housing Authority’s policy for transferring tenants if they are victims of violent crimes.

Adams left behind two sisters and two brothers, one of whom, Ronald “Rondu” Merritt, was featured in TimesLedger Newspapers for turning his life around and inspiring other teens to do the same.

Her son’s death seems to have sparked a new outrage in the community, one that Merritt hopes will cut down on teen gun violence.

Reach reporter Joe Anuta by e-mail at or by phone at 718-260-4566.

Updated 1:06 am, March 8, 2012
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Reader feedback

NEM from South Jamaica says:
This young man was shot right across from where we live. I just saw the funeral procession stop by the spot where he died, shot down like a dog by two other young black men. There is no reason in the world for this sort of thing to keep going on. And I'll be damned if I ever have any children while living here. For what? So they can be gunned down by our own people, too?
March 13, 2012, 11:07 am
Genuine from South Jamaica says:
It is so sad. He wasn't murdered he was slaughtered. What pisses me off about this is, one, police must of saw him get shot once because there are cameras everywhere. So, if they saw him get shot once, why didn't they dispatch someone immediatley? Why wait for him to get shot a second time and be murdered? Also, I heard, these so called friends of his are going on these social networking sites and boasting and cheering for the release of one of the perpetrators of his murder Alexander Burgess and at the same time they are saying RIP Darryl! His own so called friends. Hope his family finds out. I really don't care but these punks are going around terrorizing the community and that angers me. This is all gang related. This has to stop. The crips and bloods must be destroyed IMMEDIATLY!!!!!!
March 14, 2012, 9:15 am
Love from Alanta, GA says:
Some time you wonder what is in the mind of a person that can just gun down anyone.To the A holes that did this to that young man need to be hung and burned.I hope they don't see the day of light.You both need to be destroy immediatly off of this earth,no need for you to chill in jail and live life when you dummies took a life.I say to the mother and family hold your head and stay strong and mostly stay together.Love SMH........
March 17, 2012, 5:31 am
dolores from fayetteville n.c says:
I sit here and it play in my head over and over again how my freinds son was slain. Its so sad. People wake up,they are sitting back watching u young black uneducated brothers kill each other so they dont have to. Who is martin luther king, rosa parks harriet tubman? Yea they teach yall that in second grade! Stop killing each other!!!!!you only doing it for a name in the street but you anit hurting no one but your family and the victims fam. You'll be in jail looking stupid and those so called freinds you thought you had dont exist any more, remember no more freedom. To my freind shanta, you keep fighting. Dont stop making no noise. Darrells death had meaning. U make sure some one pay for your lost. Big house, big car, 3 dogs, pool and a peace of mind. Please dont let the bells stop ringing. I wanna hear them ring way down in the carolina's. Luv u
March 18, 2012, 11:07 am
Gee from Queens says:
I say sue NYPD for watching him get shot the first time and no one intervened and yet they allowed those bastards to shoot him a second time. You can sue NYCHA for taking so damn long with the transfer. If that was my son Id sue whoever because somebody has to pay. Also, sue the parents of the minor child who was involved in the shooting. Sue everybody and their mother if you have to. Start a foundation in his name. I pray for his mother and family. Nothing can bring him back not even having those punks in jail but there is so much you can do in his name. You can fight for gun control. So much you can do now. May his soul rest in peace.
March 19, 2012, 5:18 pm
Fee from Schoolfriend says:
He had so much going for him :(
Dec. 12, 2013, 11:43 am

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