HARLEM — Heartbroken relatives of the young father shot to death on a West 129th Street basketball court earlier this week — apparently an innocent victim caught up in the middle of warring gangs, sources said — have made final arrangements to lay his body to rest.
Ackeem Green, 25, was playing ball Sunday evening in the Seventh Avenue courts when shotgun rounds started raining down on him, apparently fired by gang members perched on scaffolding, sources and relatives said.
Green and three other men were shot, police said. The other victims survived, but Green — remembered by co-workers and loved ones as a hard worker who doted on his two-month-old son, Carmelo Ackeem — succumbed to a gunshot wound to his back.
"We're still in disbelief, in shock," said Gregory Collins, 48, Green's ex-stepfather.
Still, relatives have painstakingly moved forward with funeral arrangements. Green's body will be viewed next Thursday at 10 a.m. at Memorial Baptist Church at 141 West 115th Street, between Lenox and St. Nicholas avenues, Collins said. The funeral will follow at noon, and Green's body will be buried at Hackensack Cemetery later that afternoon, he said.
No one has been arrested in Green's killing.
Police sources said Green was shooting hoops around the time when members of a gang called "Goodfellas" or "New Dons" started blasting a mossberg shotgun from scaffolding overlooking the basketball court. They were aiming for members of the "Good Money Boys," or GMB, who were on the court at the time, the sources added.
The gunplay was in apparent retaliation for a prior incident in which a GMB gangster was jumped by one of the "Goodfellas," sources said.
"I guess they saw the opportunity to get one of the members that they had an altercation with," Collins said. "Ackeem was in the way.
"He was not in a gang," he added. "He was caught in the middle of revenge."
Collins said Green, who worked with the Harlem Youth Marines Inc., a non-profit youth organization that serves children between the ages of 7 and 20 years old, was committed to teaching children in his neighborhood about avoiding the temptation of gangs.
"It's senseless. Ackeem was a mentor for young people about avoiding gangs," Collins said. "For him to get killed like that, what do you say about that? Playing basketball?
"He was killed by the very thing he was trying to prevent," he continued. "That's what hurts the most."
On Wednesday night, activists held a small rally at the basketball court to keep attention on the senseless death.
"We're trying to bring the community together," said Iesha Sekou, founder and executive director of Street Corner Resources, which organized the rally. "How do we get people to understand all this violence in the community now?
"This should not be a community in fear," she added. "We should be comfortable. We shouldn't have to make children fearful to play ball."