Teen's murder believed case of mistaken identity, 2 under arrest

May 6, 2013 3:07:26 PM PDT
Two men have been arrested in Rhode Island in the senseless murder of an innocent teenager in the Bronx.

17-year-old Alphonzo Bryant's dreams of attending prom and graduating from high school in a few weeks came to a tragic end.

He was fatally shot near his home in the Morrisania section.

Word of these arrests is spreading through the neighborhood where Alphonza Bryant lived and was killed.

For his family, especially his mother, the death of this young 17-year-old is so hard to accept.

"This is Beejay. This is Beejay," said Jenaii van Doten, the victim's mother.

"You needed to have him close?" Eyewitness News asked.

"Yes. He was my right hand," van Doten said.

While Beejay, as he was known to his family, now adorns his mothers' right arm, Jenaii van Doten can't shake that awful feeling of losing her son.

"We lost a child to senseless gun violence," van Doten said.

A handsome 17 year old, Alphonza Bryant III, had what was supposed to be a full life ahead of him.

He met an unlikely end. He was gunned down, police say, as two men walked by an area outside an apartment building where Alphonza was visiting friends 14 days ago.

Jenaii says she's heard and has seen messages sent to her suggesting that perhaps this wasn't a case of mistaken identity, but something much more sinister, possibly gang related.

"Even though the intended target was no longer there they were ordered to shoot," van Doten said.

Investigators quickly put out this video of two suspects, caught walking together after the shooting past several store fronts armed with surveillance cameras.

Police say they have arrested two suspects but will not reveal their identity until formal charges are placed against them.

"This kid didn't have that kind of lifestyle. He shouldn't have died that kind of life, a gunshot wound, and it just goes to show that we need more gun control," van Doten said.

To get guns off the streets, even Mayor Bloomberg seized on Alphonza's death to emphasize the importance of stop and frisk.

When Beejay was much younger, his father was killed in a violent shooting.

Jenaii set a curfew of 10 O'clock for her son, it was meant to keep him safe as he grew up in the South Bronx neighborhood.

"He was a good kid. Only problem I had was curfew," van Doten said. ....

He was killed, senselessly, well before his curfew while visiting friends.

Jenaii now wears a necklace, given to her at Beejay's funeral, which she says speaks to this tragedy.

"See that? One bullet. One bullet. One. But this time they get caught and they go to jail. See that? handcuffs," van Doten said.