“Who killed my son?” asked David Oyebola, the father Oluwadurotimi Joseph Oyebola, the 16-year-old killed by a stray bullet Friday afternoon in the Chester Playground (next to Public School 396), in Brownsville, Brooklyn. “I want justice. And I don’t anyone else to go through this in America.”
Oyebola’s friends were beside themselves trying to save his friend. He was just playing basketball when two assailants walked into the busy, sunny playground and shot into the crowd.
“We need to come together to stop this violence,” said David Oyebola as he sat in his home grieving the sudden death—the murder of his youngest child. “We need to make sure this does not happen to any other family in America.”
The Oyebolas lived in Jamaica, Queens, but 11th-grader Oluwadurotimi Oyebola went to Ascend High School in Brownsville.
“Gun violence has become a plague in Brownsville,” Assemblywoman Latrice Walker told the Amsterdam News. “We cannot allow this to become the norm for our families. Gun violence has become a plague in Brownsville. We cannot allow this to become the norm for our families. No parent should have to bury their own child. It takes a village and we as a community have to come together to find real solutions to gun violence.”
David Oyebola, a minister at Brooklyn’s Abundant Life Christian Center said that he moved his family to New York from Lagos, Nigeria, in 2013. “I brought he and his sister here for the American dream. I can’t believe he was randomly shot. He was so bright. He loved to play basketball. He followed Chris Paul of the Houston Rockets. This is so hard. We are taking it day by day.”
Police say that Oyebola apparently caught a stray bullet.
Dominic Pabon, a 23-year-old former Marine, rushed frantically to the side of Oyebola, who lay on the ground dying from a gunshot wound to his temple.
“I live over there on the sixth floor,” said Pabon. “I heard the shots. I heard kids screaming, ‘Help! Call 911!’ so I ran downstairs as fast as I could. I took off my tank top. That’s the only piece of fabric that I had. I looked at the kid. I saw the wound where the blood was leaking out of. So I put my tank top there and put as much pressure as I could. With the kid next to me, I told him to help push down on it to help stabilize the wound to help to slow down the bleeding, because it was so excessive. The kid was losing so much blood. He was trying to speak, and I was yelling, ‘Timi talk to me, breathe!’”
Pabon did not know the popular young boy nicked named Timi, but he wanted to save the boy’s life as he was trying to talk while blood seeped from the wound on his upper left eyebrow.
David Oyebola said that he would like to meet with Pabon to thank him for trying to save his son’s life. Phone numbers were exchanged.
“I was in the U.S. Marines,” said Pabon. “I was there for four and a half years. I just got home in May.”
Currently waiting to “hear back from sanitation, the NYPD or FDNY,” Pabon said he had a lot of experience in the Marines with people “who got shot or wounded or blown up in combat.”
“So I tried to apply that training here to the kid,” he said. “But all that I had was to control the bleeding because I did not have no other equipment. When the EMS came, they came too late because the kid had already stopped breathing. I was there and he was fighting for 20 minutes straight before the ambulance came. I find no excuse why that should happen because we have a precinct (73rd) that’s two blocks right here, and a fire station that’s three blocks on Rockaway with an ambulance that’s always on stand-by.”
It is a question David Oyebola also has for the city. He said, “How long did it take the police to get there? How long did it take the EMS to arrive? Before he got to the hospital, he lost his life. We are going to put him to rest, then that is the question we are going to ask the city. But right now we mourn and we are hurt.”
The FDNY responded to an Amsterdam News request for a comment noting, “Units called @ 1651 hrs. On Scene @ 1657 hrs. Transport to Hosp @ 1606 hrs. Arrival to Hosp @ 1610 hrs. No delays… 20 mins from the time we received the call till we arrived at the Hosp.”
“For me, and a lot of community can say it took a long time for them to arrive—definitely over 10 minutes,” Pabon said when the Amsterdam News contacted him for a follow-up comment. “His friends and an undercover officer tried to help. Timi was really fighting for his life, he heard his friends screaming. He tried to respond, but he couldn’t.”
The ambulance took Oyebola to Brookdale Hospital, where he was pronounced dead.
The NYPD told the Amsterdam News, “Friday, Sept. 21, 2018, at approximately 1549 hours, police responded to a 911 call of a male shot at Chester Street and Sutter Avenue, within the confines of the 73 Precinct. Upon arrival officers found an unconscious and unresponsive 16-year-old male with a gunshot wound to the head. EMS also responded to the scene and transported the victim to Brookdale Hospital, where he was pronounced deceased. There are no arrests and the investigation is ongoing.”
Assistant Chief Jeffrey Maddrey said possibly two people fired shots from inside the park before running off. Police suspect that Oyebola was not the intended target.
“Everybody is trying to find out what happened,” Pabon told the Amsterdam News, at a vigil Sunday, at the site of the shooting. There have already been three vigils. It was a shooting of the type to send a message. If they wanted to intentionally kill the kid, they would have walked up to the person and shot him. They shot at least 50 feet away.”
To the family, Pabon offered, “I am really sorry. They are not alone. We are all hurt. It could have been my son, my daughter, my nephew, somebody else’s kid. The pain…I cannot imagine. But they are not alone. The people of Brownsville, the community tried to help this kid. You have our condolences.”
Pabon’s father, Angel Pabon, was the one who looked out at the basketball court the next day and told the Amsterdam News, “I saw the blood, and I had to clean up the scene. I did not want children to come on the playground and see this. So I set up the memorial for him. I did not know him, but no one deserves to die this way.”
“We need to come together to work together and unite, to make sure that this doesn’t happen to anybody else,” said a calm, but pained David Oyebola. “This has to stop. We must come up with suggestions and work with the police and the community to stop this violence.”
As school friends, school faculty, community activists and leaders have reached out to the family, David Oyebola has words of heartfelt thanks for Brownsville. “The community has been very supportive. I have not seen Mayor Bill de Blasio though. Not by phone or anything. He has sent representatives.”
The mayor’s office did not respond to an Amsterdam News question about if that would change or not.
Determined to be academically gifted by all whom knew him, and about to receive a National Society of High School Scholars award, Oyebola also had a major passion for basketball.
“Oluwadurotimi was an angel,” his dad said. “He was super bright. This is just shattering.
In response to an inquiry about his wife and daughter, he said, “We are all taking it day by day.”
He continued, “I saw him in the morning, and he said ‘Daddy, bye, bye. I am going to school.’ And then later, I now got a phone call at about 5 p.m. saying that my son had been shot.”
At press time Wednesday afternoon, there were still no arrests in the case.
David Oyebola said if and when he gets to talk to de Blasio he would ask about getting greater resources and amenities for the young people in Brownsville.
The distraught father said that he is making funeral arrangements for his son for the Oct. 5-Oct. 6 weekend, at a funeral parlor in Flatlands/Canarsie.