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Teen Walter Sumter Shot and Killed in Harlem After Party

By Jeff Mays | December 30, 2011 7:26am | Updated on December 30, 2011 1:23pm
Well-wishes for Walter Sumter, 18, who was shot to death in Harlem on Dec. 30, 2011, at his home on Morningside Ave.
Well-wishes for Walter Sumter, 18, who was shot to death in Harlem on Dec. 30, 2011, at his home on Morningside Ave.
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DNAinfo/Ben Fractenberg

By Tuan Nguyen, Ben Fractenberg and Jeff Mays

DNAinfo Staff

HARLEM — A "well-mannered" Harlem teen who was active at his local community center was shot to death on West 154th Street early Friday after a party nearby, witnesses and police said.

Walter Sumter, 18, was found with a gunshot wound to the chest outside 254 W. 154th St. just after midnight Friday, the NYPD said.

He was taken to Harlem Hospital and pronounced dead, police added.

There have been no arrests and the investigation is ongoing. 

A worker at a deli on the corner of West 154th Street and Frederick Douglass Boulevard said the victim was at a party that night with about 25 others near where the shooting took place. 

Investigators are trying to determine whether the shooting stemmed from a fight at the party, sources said.

One witness, who declined to give his name, described hearing gunshots but did not see what happened.

"I was busy ducking," the witness said. "There are things happening that you don't want to see."

Sumter's friends gathered outside the Police Athletic League's Harlem Center near his home on Morningside Avenue and West 119th Street and put up a memorial.

Ruqqiyah Husam, program manager for the PAL center, said Sumter, whose nickname was "Reck," was a regular attendee of the night program which ran from 7 p.m. until 10 p.m. three days per week.

"The purpose of the night center is to give them some place to go instead of hanging on the street," said Husam.

Sumter would play basketball, used the computer center and game room and participated in job readiness programs at the center, she said.

"He was well-mannered and a jokester," said Husam. "He had a lot of personality and wasn't disrespectful."

Shaun Best, Sumter's basketball coach at the PAL from 2000 to 2006, posted on Facebook that the teen was his "star point guard" from the ages of 10 to 13.

"I remember jumping for joy when he and his friends finally stop arguing and was able to play as a team," wrote Best.

He also expressed regret about not reaching out to Sumter after his son found him on Facebook.

"Sorry Walter....I should have called you more after seeing you this summer," wrote Best.

Husam said that the neighborhood has been experiencing a lot of violence recently.

There were two shootings in and around Morningside Park this summer and shots fired in broad daylight on Nov. 21 shooting near P.S. 180 and the PAL building.

On Dec. 11, a woman in her 40s was shot in the abdomen at Frederick Douglass Boulevard and West 116th Street after a teen who was allegedly in a youth gang shot at rival gang members who were chasing him, according to police.

A 16-year-old boy was arrested in the shooting.

Sumter's death was seen as another blow.

"People are just sad," said Husam.