NJ mourns death of teen basketball star
Cyril Josh Barker | 4/23/2015, 2 p.m.
Funeral services were held Monday for Paterson, N.J. gun violence victim Armoni Sexton at the Christian Fellowship church followed by burial at Cedar Lawn Cemetery.
“Welcome to death avenue” was written on a wall across the street from where the young teen was fatally shot in Paterson, N.J. City officials have since painted over the message that carries a heavy meaning.
A community is in mourning after the tragic drive-by shooting death of the 15-year-old high school basketball star.
Reports indicate the teen was shot Saturday night, along with three other people who were wounded during the shooting and who are expected to survive.
Reports indicate that 20-year-old Hasmeek Coles was taken into custody on Saturday and charged with first-degree murder, attempted murder, receiving stolen property and second-degree weapons offenses. He is being held on $2 million bail.
Another suspect involved in the shooting was arrested last Monday. Gregory Oliver, 20, has been charged with one count of murder, two counts of attempted murder and weapons possession.
Sexton was a student at Paterson Charter School for Science and Technology, where he was a nationally ranked basketball player destined for a promising sports career.
His mother, Lawanda, reportedly had plans to send him to North Carolina to take him away from the violence around him.
“I’m just trying to deal with it,” she said in a television interview, “like I don’t think it really hit me yet.”
Bergen County Assemblyman Benjie Wimberly expressed his deep concern and sympathy for the community over the shooting.
“Violence has cut devastatingly short the promising lives of too many Paterson youth,” Wimberly said. “Armoni was a freshman in high school who played varsity basketball. He was someone’s son, someone’s teammate and someone’s friend. There must be an end to such senseless violence perpetrated in our communities. Enough is enough.”
Wimberly added that he wants to make changes in education, jobs, gun control and community programs to prevent other tragedies.
The Paterson Police Department announced plans for several anti-crime strategies to cut down on the violence. Officers will be dedicated to zones within the city. A mobile command center has also been placed in the area where Sexton was killed.
The department was reportedly working with John Jay College of Criminal Justice before Sexton’s killing to identify offenders who are committing violent crimes.