Rucker Park Shooting Suspect Indicted for Attempted Murder
MANHATTAN SUPREME COURT—A 24-year-old accused of wildly shooting into a crowd at a popular basketball tournament in Harlem’s Rucker Park, wounding five, was indicted Thursday on attempted murder, assault and weapons charges.
According to prosecutors, Laing allegedly pulled out a semiautomatic gun and began shooting at people inside and outside the court, sending hundreds of people fleeing — and hitting five people, including a 16-year-old boy.
Four of the victims were shot in their arms or legs. One was shot in the chest, and now suffers from limited mobility and has lost sensation in his arm and hand, prosecutors said.
“The defendant is charged with turning an annual summer event into one now remembered for senseless gun violence,” said District Attorney Cyrus Vance, Jr., in a statement.
“New Yorkers should be able to play sports and attend local events without the fear of getting shot."
Laing, hit with a 26-count indictment, pleaded not guilty during the brief Supreme Court arraignment.
Natara Morris, Laing’s live-in girlfriend of more than two years, and the mother of his 5-month-old son, said she thinks her boyfriend is innocent and that prosecutors are targeting him because he has a criminal past.
Laing was previously charged with weapons possession in Westchester.
“They’re trying to make him out to be an animal,” the 20-year-old said after Laing was taken away in cuffs, but he’s a “very loving, caring person,” who just wants be part of his son’s life.
“Honestly I don’t know what happened [at the tournament],” said Morris. “All I know is that he didn’t do it.”
Police Commissioner Raymond Kelly said at the time that the gunfire may have erupted after a bad call or heckling.
Police sources said the shooter might have been punched before the incident, which occurred during a game between Team 914 and Polo Grounds.
Laing's lawyer, Andrew Freifeld, said his client "adamantly denies the charges," but didn't offer an explanation about what actually transpired at the event.
Laing was held without bail and is due back in court in October.