THE BRONX — A 4-year-old boy who "loved basketball" and was nicknamed "Little LeBron" was killed by a stray bullet during a vicious gunfight that erupted near the Morrisania playground where he was playing Sunday night — a shooting a source called "senseless."
The gunfire, which also left two men hurt, rang out at a basketball court near the playground in the Forest Houses where Lloyd Morgan had been playing on a jungle gym around 9:40 p.m., the NYPD said. One of the bullets struck him in the head.
“There were a lot of people out. Then a massive amount of shots out of the blue,” Lloyd’s mother, Shianne Norman, 27, a cook at Carnegie Hall, said during a tearful interview at her home. “Then my baby was gone.”
The boy was taken to Lincoln Hospital, where he died, police stated.
Lloyd is the second child that the boy's father, Lloyd Morgan Sr., 26, has lost to violence. A previous girlfriend strangled his daughter six years ago, Morgan said.
“This is my second child that's been taken away from me,” the dad said.
Lloyd “loved basketball,” his father said. “That guy was everybody’s alarm clock — 6 a.m., he’s bouncing a ball. That’s all he wanted to do.”
The boy's parents called their son “Little LeBron” and “President Obama.”
“He was going to be a basketball player and the next black president, too,” Lloyd's mom recalled. She hadn’t yet told her other child, a 10-year-old daughter, about the boy's killing.
Jason Courtney Kelly, 27, and Christopher Forte, 21, were also injured in the shooting.
Kelly, who was shot in the stomach, was an alleged Bloods member and has prior arrests for robbery, criminal possession of a controlled substance and assault, a police source said. It was unclear if he was an intended target in the attack.
"I was leaning over him, saying, 'You're alright,'" said Shermina Andrews, 22, a friend of Kelly who lives in the Forest Houses. "He was dazing out, and there was blood coming out of his stomach and his ear."
Kelly was taken to Lincoln Hospital, where he was in stable condition. He was in custody, but it was unclear what charges he is facing.
Forte, who was shot in the arm, was arrested once before, but the charge is sealed because he was a minor. He was treated and released from St. Barnabas Hospital.
It was also unclear if Forte was a bystander or had been involved in the shooting. Police were also investigating what led to the gunfight. As of Monday morning, it appeared to be “just a senseless shooting,” a police source said.
More than 100 people had gathered at the basketball court, at 735 E. 165th St., for the "First Annual Ghetto Angels Basketball Tournament," a memorial for 18-year-old Troynisha Harris, who was stabbed to death on East 166th Street on July 24, 2010, local residents said.
The game turned violent when a man walked up to the court and started shooting, Norman told reporters. One of the basketball players reportedly fired back, and both gunmen fled.
"I looked out the window, and it was chaos," resident Taheem Williams, 29, recalled. "People were stepping over each other just to get into the building."
Norman urged community members to help police find the shooters. “There’s no snitching when it’s a 4-year-old little boy,” she said.
Roughly 100 residents — some holding signs and sporting t-shirts that said "stop the violence" — joined local politicians and City Council Speaker Christine Quinn at a rally Monday against Sunday's shooting, holding a prayer circle where the 4-year-old was shot.
"It's time for us to take back our community. We don't need anyone else coming in and telling us we need to stop killing each other," said City Councilwoman Diane Foster. "Enough is enough. We are killing each other and it makes no sense."
She added, "Put the guns down."
Lloyd was the second young child to be shot on a city playground in two weeks, sparking outrage from elected leaders. On July 8, stray bullets struck 3-year-old Isaiah Rivera in the legs as he played in an elephant-shaped spray shower in the Roosevelt Houses in Bedford-Stuyvesant.
Friends and family members described Lloyd as a “happy little boy.”
“He was smiling when he was with his mother and father,” neighbor Clarence Williams, 53, said. “He was a cute kid, good boy, well-behaved.”
Lloyd’s uncle, Shane Morgan, who has a 5-year-old son, said he and Morgan Sr. tried to shield their children from gun violence.
“We basically kept our boys out of the street,” Shane, 28, recounted. “I still don’t believe it. We always talked about the potential of these boys since they were babies.”
Lloyd’s death occurred almost six years to the day after another of Morgan Sr.’s children was killed.
On July 2, 2006, Sherlly Courcelle, Morgan Sr.’s girlfriend at the time, strangled the couple’s newborn daughter and hid the body in a closet. She was convicted of second-degree manslaughter and served close to five years in prison until she was paroled July 6, according to the state Department of Correction website.
Lloyd and Isaiah's shootings prompted outcries from local civic leaders.
Mayor Michael Bloomberg, who lambasted President Barack Obama and Republican candidate Mitt Romney for not taking firmer stances on gun control following the Friday morning massacre that left a dozen people dead in a Colorado movie theater, extended his sympathies to the Morgan family and called on Washington to limit access to firearms.
“We’re killing each other in this country,” the mayor said.
“Four years old, life snuffed out. There’s not a lot else to say. We all know about the scourge of guns on our streets and that we have to get them off.”
State Assemblyman Eric Stevenson (D-Bronx), who arrived at the Forest Houses soon after the shooting Sunday night, urged residents and politicians to rethink their opposition to the NYPD’s stop-and-frisk tactics, which have disproportionately targeted blacks and Latinos.
“Look what happened here tonight,” Stevenson, who is black, told reporters.
“Maybe we should reconsider and be supporting stop-and-frisk to make sure that we catch people out there with guns.”
In a follow-up interview late Monday morning, Stevenson added that he still feels police should be "retrained to use stop-and-frisk more appropriately," but went on to reiterate his argument that "stop-and-frisk would have prevented something like this and will prevent something like this from happening in the future."
Funeral arrangements have not yet been made for Lloyd.