HARLEM — Hundreds of mourners packed the Memorial Baptist Church Thursday to bid a tearful goodbye to a young father who was shot and killed on a basketball court earlier this month.
The funeral for Ackeem Green — who police sources believe was an innocent bystander caught in the middle of gang retaliation — unleashed a groundswell of emotion in the Memorial Baptist Church at West 115th Street Thursday morning.
Among the mourners was the mother Asheena, with whom Green had a 2-month-old son, Carmelo Ackeem.
"With her son in her hand, she broke down sobbing," said Alsphonso Broome, who works in the church.
Green was playing basketball on the courts at Seventh Avenue and West 129th Street on June 3 when shotgun rounds started raining down on him. Sources and relatives said the gunplay was sparked by gang members perched on scaffolding.
Police sources said gang members 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, sources added.
The gunplay was in apparent retaliation for a prior incident in which a GMB gangster was jumped by one of the "Goodfellas," the sources added.
Green, ironically, was a member and volunteered for Harlem Youth Marines Inc., a local non-profit youth organization that, among other things, focuses on steering teens away from gang violence. Decorated in traditional military garb — from Army fatigues to Navy crisp white slacks — somber members attended the funeral but remained subdued and exchanged few, if any, words.
Some, along with the 369th New York National Guard and the NYPD, served as pallbearers for Green.
Meanwhile, the other victims of the shooting were in attendance, a stark reminder of the violence that claimed Green's life.
Raheem Wiggins, 19, walked with a slight bent — caused by the bullet that pierced his left calf — in his dark blue sweatpants. He recalled meeting Green on the courts moments before shots rang out.
"I was already playing basketball when he came," he said. "About 20 to 25 minutes after that is when the shooting started to happen.
"I can't even explain it," he added.
No one has been arrested in the shooting.
Green was set to be buried at Hackensack Cemetery in New Jersey.