LOWER EAST SIDE — Hundreds of local residents marched through the streets Thursday night as a show of unity against a spate of Lower East Side shootings in recent months, with the latest resulting in the death of 16-year-old Raphael Ward.
The march began on Avenue D and East Sixth Street and ended at the site of the fatal shooting, on Columbia Street near Rivington Street, where Ward was found with a gunshot wound to the chest the night of Jan. 4.
Ward's mother, Arlene Delgado, along with elected officials including Manhattan Borough President Scott Stringer, urged those gathered both young and old to do their part in ending violence in the neighborhood.
"Us, the parents, we have to do this. We have to be active," said Delgado, who lives at the Baruch Houses, across the street from where her son was killed. "We can't just let them [children] walk out the door and leave it in God's hands and say, 'God protect my baby. I know my son, my daughter is going to be fine.'
"That is not it. It is us alone with God," she added.
Delgado also took the time to dismiss reports that Ward had been killed over an expensive coat.
"My son was not killed over a coat. My son was killed for being in the wrong place at the wrong time, where there was violence surrounding him," she said.
So far, another 16-year-old, Timothy Montalvo, has been arrested on murder and criminal weapons possession charges in Ward's death. Montalvo claimed to have only handed the gun to Walter Rodriguez, 20, who has been identified by police as the shooter.
Rodriguez is still on the run from cops, police sources said at the march Thursday night.
Delgado spoke about the weeks since her son's death, describing wanting to hide under a quilt and mourn. However, she said the support from the surrounding community had been overwhelming.
"I have not cooked a meal," said Delgado. "The support has been beautiful."
Many of Ward's friends also attended the march, wearing images of the sport-crazed teen around their necks like they did at his wake and funeral.
"The streets have been empty. No one feels the same," said Amanda Acosta, 17, who lives in the same Baruch Houses building where Ward resided.
"Hopefully, it will stop the violence," she added of the march.
There have been five major shootings on the Lower East Side since July 2012, according to elected officials who attended the march.
Charles Fernandez, a father of three, was shot and killed in October 2012 after a fight with a group of men escalated on Forsyth Street.
In July 2012, a NYPD officer patrolling the Seward Park Extension on Essex Street was shot and injured, with the officer's protective vest stopping the bullet from possibly killing him, authorities said.