Family of slain Jamaica teen observe solemn anniversary

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Photo gallery

Shanta Merritt and her son Ronald Merritt stand beside a memorial to Darryl Adams, Shanta's son, on the one-year anniversary of his murder. Photo by Christina Santucci
Mourners release orange and white balloons into the sky in Darryl Adams' memory. Photo by Rich Bockmann
A basketball and a teddy bear are among items at the memorial in the South Jamaica Houses. Photo by Christina Santucci
A young woman places a candle at the makeshift memorial to Darryl Adams. Photo by Christina Santucci
Ronald Merritt, Darryl Adams' brother, hands a candle to his stepson Kaileeque Branch, 5. Photo by Christina Santucci
A friend pours out a bottle in Darryl Adams' memory. Photo by Christina Santucci
Darryl Adams' aunt Tyeast Anderson (r.) and family friend Sally Fletcher attend the ceremony. Photo by Christina Santucci
Ronald Merritt, Darryl Adams' brother, is joined by his stepson Kaileeque Branch, 5. Photo by Christina Santucci

About 100 friends, family members and loved ones gathered outside the South Jamaica Houses Saturday night to light candles in remembrance of Darryl Adams, the teenager who was gunned down in the housing projects last year.

“I woke up today and I wanted to cry,” said Shanta Merritt, Adams’ mother. “But I feel good. I didn’t think it was going to be like this. Everybody came out to show their love.”

On the first weekend in March 2012, 19-year old Adams was chased down and shot in the back outside one of the buildings in the 40 Houses, a cold-blooded act that was caught on surveillance video.

The footage showed Adams running through the complex as he was chased from behind by two youngsters later identified as Sean Barnhill, 19, and Alexander Burgess, 16, just after midnight. Adams is seen falling to the ground and then one of the young men walks into the frame, fires off another shot and walks away.

Seconds later a police car speeds in and apprehends the suspects.

Burgess was recently sentenced to 28 years in prison after pleading guilty to manslaughter as well as an attempted murder charge in an unrelated burglary. Barnhill is still awaiting sentencing March 19 after pleading guilty to manslaughter.

Adams, who would have turned 20 last month, was a popular young man and since his death he has become one of the poster children for violence in southeast Queens.

“We have to ask, why did this happen? It’s very important for us to find out what is our purpose,” said southeast Queens peace activist Erica Ford.

“It’s easy to get a gun and shoot someone you got beef with. To all the young brothers and sisters out there, it’s hard to deal with the beef you got with yourself,” she said. “In the spirit of Darryl Adams it’s time to deal with the beef with yourself.”

Adams’ brother, Ronald Merritt, said it is hard for people to change before they become the victims of violence.

“Nobody wants to hear it until it hits them at home,” the 26-year-old said.

Merritt recently named his newborn son Kenlin Darryl after his late brother, whom he said people could relate to because he was genuine.

“It was just him being him,” the 26-year-old said. “You know that saying, ‘Real see real?’ He was never fake. There was never somebody he didn’t show love.”

Reach reporter Rich Bockmann by e-mail at or by phone at 718-260-4574.

Updated 8:53 pm, March 7, 2013
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quana from south side says:
I love them
March 7, 2013, 11:16 am

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