Community calls for end to violence after teen boy shot to death near school in East Orange

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Monday, October 10, 2022
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A teenage boy was shot and killed in East Orange Monday afternoon. Toni Yates has the story.

EAST ORANGE, New Jersey (WABC) -- A vigil was held for the 16-year-old boy who was shot and killed just after schools let out in East Orange last Monday.

Community activists throughout the region came together to the exact spot where a gunman shot the 16-year-old basketball standout dead as he walked home from school.

Traditional African remembrances took place as members of his team listened.

Investigators say Letrell Duncan was shot multiple times at the corner of Lincoln Street and Park Avenue when gunfire erupted in a residential area near several schools.

Duncan was a sophomore at East Orange Campus High School.

He was taken to University Hospital in Newark, where he was pronounced dead.

Duncan's family is trying to come to the reality of the loss of their son.

Pamela Courten is Duncan's grandmother. Alrick Courten is his uncle.

"It's not right for him to lay here with his face in the rain, and take his last breath right here, where we're standing on, we have to do something, we can just talk, talk and talk, we have to do something," Alrick Courten said.

East Orange Mayor Ted Green released a statement, that said in part:

"Yesterday, a young man's life was brazenly cut short by a senseless act of violence that we will never normalize in our city. 16-year-old Letrell Duncan deserves more. Our young people are hurting. And so am I. This shooting has shaken our community to its core, and collectively, we must come together to prioritize and protect our young people. EOPD has increased patrols in our school corridors and we are taking aggressive action to ensure gun violence does not disrupt our community.

"We need our children to feel safe traveling throughout our city. Anything else is unacceptable. I've been tough on crime since day one and I will remain that way - investing in more police officers and getting illegal guns off the street. But we also are investing in positive opportunities for our young people to mitigate the systemic pressures and disparities that put our youth at risk.

Green said he joins the community in mourning the terrible loss.

Mark Scott, the coach for Prospect Prep Academy basketball team that Duncan played for said he was a good kid.

"Letrell was not a gang member, or a street kid, he was a basketball player," Scott said.

Authorities are still working to determine what led up to the shooting.

Parents are understandably worried about their kids' safety.

"You roll the dice every single day," said Amber Dorch. "You roll the dice every single day when you drop your kid off when you do anything - especially now."

Dorch dropped off her child at school Tuesday morning. Now she can't help but think about the family who just lost their child.

"So it's hard. It's difficult," she told Eyewitness News. "I'm having a hard time this morning. It's very sad for that family and I'm praying for them."

Mr. Russell is a school custodian who works nearby. He heard the gunshots and saw the young man lying on the ground.

"We're losing our teenagers," he said. "We're losing our Black kids, and we have to do a better job in trying to get to them so they do not continue to take each other's lives."

So far police have not made any arrests.

Essex County Sheriff Armando Fontoura announced Wednesday that the Essex County Sheriff's Crime Stoppers Program is offering a $10,000 reward for information leading to the arrest of the person or persons responsible.

Anyone with information is asked to contact the Essex County Prosecutor's Office Homicide/Major Crimes Task Force Tips Line at 1-877-847-7432, 1-877-TIPS-4EC, or the East Orange Police Department Tips Hotline at 973-266-5041. Calls will be kept confidential.

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