Two Suspects Charged in Fatal Shooting of 4-Year-Old Boy in Bronx Park
THE BRONX — A 17-year-old boy and an alleged Bloods gang member were charged in the shooting death of a 4-year-old boy caught in the crossfire of a wild shootout on a Morrisania basketball court, the NYPD said Wednesday.
Rondell Pinkerton, a teen who lives steps from the basketball court, was arraigned in Bronx Supreme Court on Wednesday where he was charged with second-degree murder, attempted murder and criminal possession of a weapon, according to the criminal complaint.
Pinkerton — who goes by the name Spyder — told police he was involved in the gunfire but acting in self-defense during Sunday's violent event at the Forest Houses' courts where toddler Lloyd Morgan was shot in the head by a stray bullet, according to prosecutors.
He allegedly said he acted only to protect himself after "some sort of dispute" led to the gunfight, Police Commissioner Raymond Kelly said in a Tuesday press conference.
Pinkerton — who has a prior arrest for criminal possession of marijuana — was grilled for hours and claimed he shot in self defense, police said.
"He is so young," said Emilia Rivera, 57, a neighbor of the teen. "I can't think he's capable of doing that.
Rivera added, "He has to pay for what he did, though."
Pinkerton's lawyer, David Narain, was not immediately available for comment.
Courtney Kelly, 26, who was shot in the stomach during the gun battle, was arrested, too, and charged with criminal possession of a weapon. He was stable at St. Barnabas Hospital Wednesday.
Kelly has previously been arrested for robbery, assault and criminal possession of a controlled substance, police said.
Shortly before 9:40 p.m. Sunday, a police source and witnesses recounted, a gunman walked to the basketball court and started firing.
Pinkerton — and possibly another shooter — allegedly returned fire, hitting Lloyd as he played on a jungle gym nearby.
"I looked out the window, and it was chaos," recalled Taheem Williams, 29, who was visiting his family at the housing complex. "People were stepping over each other just to get into the building."
Lloyd's mother, Shianne Norman, 27, a cook at Carnegie Hall, said there was "a massive amount of shots out of the blue. Then my baby was gone."
A police source called the incident "just a senseless shooting."
Another man, Christopher Forte, 21, was shot in the arm during the gun battle and later treated at Lincoln Hospital.
Kelly was the brother of the woman being memorialized by the basketball tournament — Troynisha Harris, 18, who was stabbed to death on East 166th Street on July 24, 2010.
Police were investigating whether the shooting was gang-related.
Three types of ammunition were found at the scene, and investigators were talking to a third suspect Wednesday morning, a police source said.
Lloyd was the second young child shot on a city playground in two weeks, and his slaying prompted an outcry from the city's civic leaders. He was also the second child that his father, Lloyd Morgan Sr., lost to violence — a girlfriend strangled Morgan Sr.'s newborn daughter in 2006.
"This is my second child that's been taken away from me," the dad said.
Local politicians called on residents to help the police and end the violence in their communities. Assemblyman Eric Stevenson and State Senator Ruben Diaz said the incident changed their views on the NYPD's stop-and-frisk tactics, which critics allege overwhelmingly affect blacks and Latinos.
"I am fully supportive of stop-and-frisk starting today," Diaz said. "Our community has to be protected. Let's stop somebody from being killed."
With reporting by Joe Tabacca.