Christopher Duran, a 14-year-old Dominican boy from the south Bronx, didn't make it to school Friday morning. He was shot dead just steps from his front door, in what police sources said was a gang-related killing.
Duran was leaving home around 8:30 a.m. when he got into a shouting match with two men near the intersection of East 167th Street and Sheridan Avenue in the Morrisania neighborhood, the New York Police Department said.
The argument escalated. Then one of the men then shot Duran three times in the abdomen and once in the head, police said. Emergency medics pronounced Duran dead at the scene.
The two perpetrators — described by police as a black man wearing black clothes and a dark-skinned man wearing a red bandana over his face — fled south on Sheridan Avenue. They remain at large.
Duran's family assembled near the intersection of Sheridan Avenue and McClellan Street, less than a block away from the site of the shooting. The boy's mother could be heard weeping loudly.
Police officers in uniform and in plainclothes wandered in and out of the crime scene. Detectives in suits took notes as they spoke to one of Duran's cousins, a teenager who wore a red baseball shirt with the words "Kush Kings" on the back.
When a photographer approached the grieving family, a woman who identified herself as Duran's cousin asked him to back down. The photographer insisted, angering the mourners. A family member then pushed the photographer's camera, and a brief scuffle ensued. The family members didn't comment to BuzzFeed News.
As the morning progressed, word of the killing began to spread around the neighborhood. Neighbors and passersby assembled on East 167th Street, where the NYPD's yellow crime scene tape shuttered in the wind.
"What happened here?" a woman asked in Spanish.
"They shot China's kid," a man replied.
"Jesus," the woman said. "Which one? The big one?"
"No, the man replied. "Christopher, the little one. His body is still out there."
The discussion among the neighbors — all but one declined to give their names — immediately turned towards the area's gang problem. They pointed to a stabbing that took place on May 10 on Carroll Place, just blocks away from Duran's house.
"There's a lot of gangs around here," said Jose Ortiz, a contractor who lives nearby and knows the Duran family. "You just wait until the sun sets and the kids start drinking. Then things are going to get ugly. This isn't over."
"The kids here are fighting with a pandilla from down there," said another neighbor, using the Spanish word for gang and pointing towards the south on Sheridan Avenue.
"It looks like they were waiting for him," said a young woman who lives in Duran's building.
Several neighbors said they believed Duran's older brother may have been the original target. One neighbor told BuzzFeed News that Duran's family had been warned to move out of the neighborhood months ago.
Asked for the name of the gang responsible for the killing, the neighbors grew tense.
"We don't talk about that around here," one of them said in Spanish. "You never know who's listening."
As of Sunday, there had been 378 murders in New York City in 2015, according to NYPD statistics.