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Harlem Man Gunned Down Weeks After College Graduation

By  Aidan Gardiner Jeff Mays and Wil Cruz | July 5, 2012 8:20am | Updated on July 5, 2012 3:06pm

Matt Shaw at his graduation from Le Moyne College in May. On July 5, 2012, he was shot and killed on a street in Harlem.
Matt Shaw at his graduation from Le Moyne College in May. On July 5, 2012, he was shot and killed on a street in Harlem.
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EAST HARLEM — A recent college graduate praised for his dedication to his studies was shot to death on East 128th Street just before midnight Wednesday, police and relatives said.

Matt Shaw, who graduated from upstate Le Moyne College in May, was gunned down at 112 East 128th Street, police and relatives said.

"I told him I didn't want him up here during the summer," said Shaw's mother, Paula Shaw-Leary, 60. "The summer's bad. Someone's always getting shot. They play target practice with humans."

Shaw's killing was one of 13 shootings that left 17 victims dead or wounded between 12:01 a.m and 11:59 p.m. on the holiday, according to the NYPD.

"There are just bullets flying all over the place," said Mayor Michael Bloomberg during a news conference where he discussed the shooting of an NYPD cop on the Lower East Side. "We have to stop the craziness."

Shaw, 21, was hanging out with friends at the AK Houses Wednesday when he was shot in the chest just before midnight, police and witnesses said.

"When I heard the shots, I ran over there and saw him lying there bleeding," said Shawn, 32, a friend who declined to give his last name. "He looked gone but he was still breathing."

Shaw — whom sources said did not appear to be the intended target of the shooting — was rushed to Harlem Hospital, where he died, police said.

Shaw-Leary said dozens of relatives raced to the hospital in hopes that her youngest of seven children would pull through.

"We thought if we stood there long enough he might wake up," she said. "This still hasn't set in yet.

"This is ridiculous," she added. "He didn't have any enemies."

Shaw earned his bachelor's of science in business administration and finance at Le Moyne College in Syracuse in May, school officials said.

"What distinguished him was his seriousness of purpose and his work ethic," said Carl Thomas, director of the higher education opportunity program at the college. "He was always focused on excelling academically.

"His academics always took priority," he added. "You could see in Matt that he really performed well and applied himself."

Shaw had just been accepted to a graduate program in economics at SUNY's University at Albany, relatives and school officials said.

"He was bragging about going back again and getting his master's," Shawn added. "Now, all that was for nothing.

"He was the only one in the 'hood who was doing something," he added. "He never really hung out. But the day he decided to hang out, this happens."

There have been no arrests in connection to the shooting, police said.

The area where Shaw was shot has been the site of other tragedies in recent years.

Cheyenne Baez, another innocent bystander, was fatally shot in the area in October 2010 by Boris Brown, who fired into a crowd in retaliation for a robbery, according to court records.

Shaw's relatives, meanwhile, set up a makeshift memorial where the young man was shot.

"I never thought you would leave us this early but we love you," read one note at the memorial. "Watch [over] us."

Shaw-Leary said Shaw would be cremated and his organs donated. A memorial service is planned for July 25, when he would have turned 22.

The family is offering a $5,000 reward for information leading to an arrest. 

Alan Neuhauser contributed to this story.