Memorial Grows for Columbia Street Shooting Victim Raphael Ward
Audible sobbing, burning wax, and the soundtrack of passing vehicles and subway trains on the Williamsburg Bridge. Such is the makeshift memorial site for the fallen sixteen-year-old, Raphael Sadonte Ward. His life cut short on Columbia Street this past Friday evening.
It’s an outpouring of love and grief in an open plaza – the sunkissed strip-mall setback at the base of the Masaryk Towers. Some one hundred candles of varying sizes are arranged to form a heart, while a small box carries trinkets, stuffed animals, candy bars, and baseballs. There are goodbye notes and condolences scrawled everywhere, further encouraged by the placement of Sharpies and writing surfaces.
Denizens of the housing complexes nearby stopped to pay respects, flooding the memorial site for the better part of yesterday.
The New York Post cites police reports that allege Ward was murdered for his $600 Marmot parka. He took a fatal bullet to the chest outside the DeWitt Reformed Church and stumbled into the Tearedhan bodega down the block. The gunman is described as 5-foot-6, 120 to 140 pounds, and wearing a dark wool hat and a ski mask.
Manhattan Borough President Scott Stringer made the following statement in response to the shooting:
I am deeply saddened by the loss of Raphael Ward and my thoughts and prayers are with his family. The Lower East Side has seen an increase in gun violence in recent months, most apparent within or near NYCHA developments, and we must redouble efforts to make our neighborhoods safe. My office allocated funds for security cameras for Baruch Houses in 2012 but only initial steps have been taken to install them. In the coming days I will be reaching out to NYCHA to expedite the installation of these cameras, which must no longer be delayed.
And State Senator Daniel Squadron had the following to say:
My thoughts and prayers are with the family of Raphael Ward. No parent should ever have to face the unspeakable tragedy of losing a child.
We must continue to work together as a community to fight the scourge of gun violence and make our homes and our streets safer for our families. From stronger gun laws to improved safety at NYCHA developments, we are reminded far too often that the time to act is now.