15-year-old killed in Brooklyn park ID'd, shooting believed to be gang related

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Thursday, September 8, 2022
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The teen was shot and killed at McLaughlin Park at the intersection of Tillary and Jay streets around 1:45 p.m. CeFaan Kim has the latest details.

DOWNTOWN BROOKLYN (WABC) -- Police have identified the 15-year-old who was fatally shot in Brooklyn Wednesday afternoon and now believe the crime may be gang-related.

Unique Smith was inside McLaughlin Park when a school-aged suspect walked up to him and asked for his gang affiliation, according to witness statements given to the NYPD.

A fist fight ensued, and that's when the suspect pulled out a gun and shot Smith in the stomach.

"I could see that there was a kid on the floor and that there was somebody from the school doing chest compressions on him," witness Jasmine Bulger said.

Cell phone video showed dozens of people emptying out of the park after the teen was shot.

EMS transported Smith to Methodist Hospital, where he has pronounced dead a short while later.

Smith was a student at Brooklyn Laboratory High School just a couple of blocks away from the park.

The school released a statement saying student safety was their top priority.

"To support our students and teammates as they process this event, Brooklyn Lab will provide on-campus professional counseling beginning tomorrow, in addition to the school social workers who are on our campus every day," the statement read. "We are also in contact with the local police commander and community partners to request increased police presence at dismissal and conflict resolution support for our community."

When asked about the shooting at a back-to-school press conference, NYPD Commissioner Keechant Sewell said the department will do all they can to protect students but that it will take help from the community to keep all children safe.

"Sadly, some of this violence is committed by children," Sewell said. "So we can talk about what we do in these walls as school safety agents, but it does extend beyond these buildings."

School Chancellor David Banks also pointed to students needing more support both in the classroom and at home to prevent them from turning to violence in the first place.

"Every school has a handful of students that keep the teachers up all night," Banks said. "They can tell you the names of the kids right off the top of their head. The students that you see out here running around and committing acts of violence. They hurt themselves, they hurt others, they are crying out for support, for help. We can't just expect that the NYPD can solve that. The community has to solve that."

Investigators recovered one .9-mm shell casing and bullet from inside the park.

Because of the possible question of gang affiliation overheard by the witnesses, the incident is being investigated as a gang-motivated crime.

The suspect was described by police as a Black male around school-aged wearing a black hoodie, black pants, and a mask.

The suspect fled on foot, westbound on Tillary Street.

No arrests have been made, and the investigation is ongoing.

Police say there were nearly 30 other people in the park at the time, and they are asking anybody with information to come forward and call 1-800-577-TIPS.

ALSO READ | NYPD commissioner discusses drop in shootings, rise in other crimes like robberies

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