The death of a four year-old from a stray bullet has left a community in mourning and a family in shock. It's also causing more community leaders to change their positions on the NYPD policy of stop-and-frisk.
Lloyd Morgan was shot in the head while he was at the playground with dozens of other children Sunday night around 9:40 in the Forest Houses public housing complex on East 165th Street. The playground is steps away from a basketball court where shots rang out after a charity basketball game ended and two men got into an argument.
"He was four!" Morgan's mother, Shianne Norman, told PIX11 News. "He didn't get to live a life yet," she said, adding, "No one expects their child to be shot at four."
The preschooler had been playing with a couple dozen other children around a jungle gym when he got hit. Two men, ages 31 and 27, who were not involved in the dispute that sparked the shooting were also injured by gunfire. One of the men, according to witnesses had been trying to get children away from the gunfire when he was struck by it. The unidentified man's efforts didn't spare Lloyd Morgan either, leaving the boy's mother with only reminiscences of his personality.
"He was very loving," Shianne Norman said, "And if I may so, [he was] just a little bit to manipulating, because he knew how to get what he wanted from me. All all he ever had to do was say I love you. 'I love you, Mommy. Can I get some chocolate milk?' 'I love you, Mommy. Can you get my toys?'"
Three ironies surround this tragic death. First, the reason more than 100 people had been out at the basketball court in the center of the housing project was for a basketball tournament to raise money to buy a tombstone for a 15 year-old girl stabbed to death there last year, according to neighbors.
Another irony is that the preschooler was shot while he stood near a climbing structure in the playground that's shaped like an elephant. The scene is eerily similar to an elephant-shaped fountain in the Roosevelt Houses public housing project in the Bedford-Stuyvesant neighborhood of Brooklyn, where Isaiah Gonzalez, 3, was shot in the leg by young men feuding exactly two weeks before Lloyd Morgan's death.
Gonzalez survived, and detectives arrested two men, Stanley Williams, 20, and Antonio McCloud, 22, in that case. Both men are being held on $1 million bail while cops search for an accomplice.
In the case of the shooting of 4 year-old Lloyd Morgan, there'd been no arrest as of Monday evening, although detectives did take at least two men into custody at the scene. Whoever is behind the boy's death, people close to the victim all feel anger toward the suspect.
"I hope they hang him," Jacqueline Roberts, Lloyd's godmother, told PIX11 News. "He needs to be [hanged]. Shooting at a park with a bunch of little children, that's something you just don't do."
At that playground Monday night was a who's who of political and community leaders, at an anti-violence rally organized by State Assemblyman Eric Stevenson. He had recently spoken out against the NYPD's practice of stop and frisk, but went on the record saying that supporting the practice may have helped to get the guns out of the people who fired the shots that killed Lloyd Morgan.
Joining Stevenson in a complete turnaround on the practice of stop and frisk was State Sen. Ruben Diaz. "You may be inconvenienced," he told PIX11 News about how his constituents may feel if they become subjects of the controversial police practice of stopping people for whom cops have a "reasonable suspicion" of carrying a weapon, "But," Sen. Diaz continued, "that's better than having to tell the mother of a four year-old that her son is dead."
Also joining the state legislators was City Council Speaker and mayoral candidate Christine Quinn, who said that she's always supported stop and frisk, but wants it to be reformed and used less frequently. She also said that the reason she'd come to the 5PM rally at the basketball court was to encourage people who know who was behind the shooting to come forward. "This is not snitching," she said, as members of the crowd of about 50 residents who said they'd lost relatives to gun violence joined in. "This is about saving a life!"Copyright © 2014, The Baltimore Sun