LOWER EAST SIDE — Hundreds of mourners turned out Thursday to mourn Raphael Ward, the 16-year-old fatally shot last week outside a Lower East Side bodega.
The funeral, held at Our Lady of Sorrows Church on Stanton Street, took place only a few blocks from the spot on Columbia street where the teen was found fatally shot, across from his home at the Baruch Houses.
The funeral provided a calm contrast from the day before, when several fights broke out between visitors at a viewing for Ward in the East Village.
"It was nice, it was peaceful, there were a lot of people there," said Judith Sam, the director of Youth Services at Grand Street Settlement, where Ward attended programs and his half-brother works.
The nonprofit is planning to host a basketball tournament and tribute to the teen, who friends said loved sports and liked to make other laugh.
"He always had a smile and he loved to pull pranks on people," Sam added. "He was well liked, well liked by the girls."
Ward attended programs up to four times a week at the Grand Street Settlement, she noted.
"He would come to teen drop-in nights, play video games with his friends in the hangout rooms. He would come in and say hi to his half-brother," Sam said.
Witnesses and friends said that on the night of his murder, Ward was hanging out with friends who had tussled with rivals from a different housing project a few days prior.
Police have arrested and charged 16-year-old Timothy Montalvo in the incident, charging him murder and and criminal possession of a weapon, police said. It is unclear if he was the shooter, cops added.
Friday night's tribute to Ward will begin at 6 p.m. at the Grand Street Settlement’s building at 88 Pitt St., according to Sam.
There will be basketball games played throughout the evening, as well as performances of songs written by some of the community's young people.
The night will culminate with a candlelight march that ends outside the Tearedhan Convenience Store on Columbia Street where Ward was killed.