EAST VILLAGE — A teen who was talking with a group of his friends outside his home when he was shot dead Friday night was remembered by grieving relatives as a jokester who took pride in being an uncle to his young nephew.
Deontay Moore, 18, a lifelong resident of the Jacob Riis Houses, was a "good kid" who always kept a smile on his face, even as he worked hard to care for his 6-year-old nephew and study for a high school diploma after dropping out when he was younger, friends and relatives said Monday.
"He was always happy and even if he was sad, you would never tell," said Moore's sister Janet Mejia, 22, who lives in Harlem.
"I can't even put it in words right now because it just isn't real yet," she added.
Moore, 18, was standing with some friends at Avenue D and East Eighth Street about 10:45 p.m. Friday when gunmen on bicycles fired into the crowd, according to police, witnesses and reports. One bullet hit Moore in the back of the head.
"All I heard were shots and I dropped," said a friend of Moore's who also lives at Jacob Riis Houses and spoke on condition of anonymity.
Moore was rushed to Bellevue Hospital, where he clung to life for 12 more hours, but he was pronounced dead Saturday morning, police said.
No arrests had been made as of Tuesday morning.
"It was really random. He was never in the gangs," said Angel Rosado, 42, a tattoo artist and friend of Moore's family. "He was just hanging out with his friends."
Just a few months ago, Rosado inked a tattoo on Moore's left arm showing a pair of hands clasped in prayer and holding rosary beads.
"He wanted to do it for his mom," said Rosado, who had also inscribed Moore's name on his mother's shoulder, along with the names of her other children.
Moore had recently started studying for the GED after dropping out of Murry Bergtraum High School following 10th grade, friends and family said. He often picked his young nephew up from school and liked to roughhouse with him.
"He was a great uncle and he loved his nephew," Mejia said. "He was love wherever he walked."
Mejia joked that Moore had been a "pain in the ass, like any little brother" who always had a practical joke up his sleeve to lighten the mood.
On Monday morning, Mejia and other friends and family members looked through photos of the teen as they stood outside the Jacob Riis Houses.
"My head is just full," said Moore's father Barnett Moore, 56, of the overwhelming thoughts and memories following his son's death.
The family stood near a makeshift memorial, where friends had scribbled their heartfelt messages to Deontay Moore on the building's wall above dozens of flickering candles and stuffed toys.
"Can’t believe you are gone," wrote one. "Sleep in paradise," penned another.
A viewing for Deontay Moore will be held July 24 and 25 from 4 to 8 p.m. at the R.G. Ortiz Funeral Home at First Avenue and East Second Street.