LOWER EAST SIDE — As the neighborhood mourns the 16-year-old boy fatally shot on Friday night, police released a surveillance video showing persons of interest in the homicide.
Raphael Ward was found shot to the chest about 9 p.m. outside the Tearedhan Convenience Store store on Columbia Street. The teen, who lived in the nearby Baruch was rushed to Beth Israel Hospital, but was declared dead on arrival.
Police are now asking for the public's assistance in locating four men who were caught on camera entering and then quickly exiting the store before the incident. Ward was shot outside of the shop shortly afterward, according to police.
While there was some speculation that Ward was shot for refusing to hand over his Marmot jacket, worth hundreds of dollars, the NYPD said his jacket played no part in the shooting.
Witnesses and friends said Ward had been hanging out Friday with friends who had been in a fight against rivals from a different housing project a few days before.
The teen's wake is scheduled for Wednesday at Provenzano Lanza Funeral Home in the East Village, according to its website. A service for Ward will be held at Our Lady of Sorrows Church on Thursday morning at 10 a.m. before his burial at Rosehill Cemetery.
A stream of mourners visited the site where Ward died over the weekend, leaving candles, flowers and even some of the teen's favorite snacks — Reese's Peanut Butter Cups and packs of sunflower seeds.
"When he would play baseball he would eat them [sunflower seeds]," said friend Jonas Custodio, 19, who also lived at Baruch Houses and played ball with Ward.
Like others who knew Ward, Custodio described the 16-year-old as competitive in his choice games of basketball and baseball.
"He had good sportsmanship," he said. “Whether he won or lost he wasn't a showboater — he wouldn't shove it in your face if you lost."
Nicholas Ramos, 18, joined others by scribbling a tribute to Ward using his nickname — "RIP Tokyo" — to the slain teen on a brick wall above the makeshift memorial.
The video has already been viewed more than 6,000 times on YouTube.
At the makeshift memorial on Columbia Street those who knew Ward and those who didn't stopped in front of dozens of flickering candles, flowers and photos of the teen.
"Is stuff like this ever going to end?," asked Tasha Macc, 20, who lives at the nearby Seward Park housing complex on Essex Street. Macc said she had known Ward for six years through common friends.
"He was funny and he smiled a lot," Macc said.
Custodio also remembered the teen's sense of humor, sarcasm and quick wit.
"If he was here he would make you laugh too," he said.