Police arrested Aaron Nathaniel, 14, on Wednesday, Oct. 3 after press time. He is being charged with criminal use of a firearm and criminal possession of a weapon.
Hundreds of teens, family and community members, elected officials, concerned parents and activists marched from Brooklyn Ascend Charter School in Brownsville and gathered in Chester Playground on Monday, Oct. 1, the very scene where two weeks ago, 16-year-old Oluwadurotimi Oyebola was shot in the head and died of the fatal head wound shortly afterward.
“The loss of my son to gun violence is a reflection of the society we are living in today,” said David Oyebola. “It is a reflection of some homes and some have failed in their job as parents. It is also a reflection of how degraded and low the value of human life has become. The kid who perpetrated this act was raised, mentored and guided by someone, somewhere.”
It was an emotional, heart-wrenching gathering, where politicians and police alike (embodied by Assistant Chief of the New York City Police Department Jeffrey Maddrey) implored the community to stop the gun violence. And among the honest testimonies and open tributes was the speech Assemblywoman Latrice Walker gave about how her brother was murdered when she was just a teen.
Councilwoman Alicka Ampry-Samuel also stated that she is of the community and feels the pain that they are currently enduring. Congresswoman Yvette Clarke decried how brilliant children on their way to being effective compassionate members of society are being snatched away by senseless violence. It was a moving vigil.
“There’s a cloud over this playground; the kids don’t come here no more to play ball. The only kids who come here are those who want to come and pay respects to Timi,” Angel Pabon said as he looked over at the memorial that he and his family created and continue to maintain in the corner of the playground, where Timi was killed as he played basketball after school with his friends. “Even at school in the morning they don’t have the kids lining up or the recess. Everything has stopped. The fact that the individual has not been caught—they are afraid that they’d be retaliation. There’s a darkness over here, no one wants to come here.”
The police department stated, “On 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.”
Oyebola said it was a joy when his children joined him in New York from Nigeria five years ago. Now he is asking the questions, “Who killed my son? Where are they? Where are they getting these guns from?”
Oyebola said that young children around him are asking, “Does this mean we can no longer play in the park?”
“In order to honor Timothy they should come out,” Pabon asserted. “They should not be afraid.”
His son Dominic Pabon is the former marine who ran down from his sixth floor apartment overlooking the playground to try and save the young boy’s life. He said that after last week’s front page article he spoke to Timi’s father. “He cried, but he wanted to know the details of how his son died, and what happened in the final minutes before he passed,” said an obviously moved Pabon. “He was in pain. But he deserves the truth.”
As for the playground now, he described, “It is silent. The kids aren’t coming out here no more.” This particular part of Brownsville is not used to this type of situation, he said. “Everybody feels the sorrow, pain and suffering. Nobody’s talking. But he wasn’t the target. One bullet missed, and one bullet unfortunately hit Timi. These kids are not gang banging in the park. They just go to school.”
Oyebola held his wife Adetutu’s hand tightly and his daughter Seyi, and the family’s supporters stood close together in their black “Everything for Timi” hoodies.
“As a father grieving, I am feeling the loss of my son,” Oyebola shared with the hundreds gathered. Proudly he declared that young Oluwadurotimi was scheduled to get a national high school honor in November. He called on his faith and church family to help him through, stating, “This is a great loss.”
Timi Oyebola’s schoolmates, teachers and church leaders repeated what a great, kind young man he was.
Chief Maddrey was visibly affected by what he heard. “It hit me really hard…I have been to a lot of these vigils, I’ve had to face a lot of parents…If you love Timi, if you see or hear someone carrying a gun or carrying a knife or razor in their bag, if you love Timi, then you’ll say something, ’cause you’ll never, ever want to see someone like this again…or say I loved someone because we lost them. Love them…keep them safe while they are here. That’s how we protect each other. Love them while they’re here.”
Police announced at the vigil that they had a picture and details of a 14-year-old boy who was a suspect.
Maddrey stated, “I’ve just been authorized that the person responsible for this terrible crime—we are going to be posting his picture up.”
The in-pain crowd cheered and clapped.
Later the NYPD sent out an announcement “asking for the public’s assistance to identify the whereabouts of the following individual in connection to a homicide that occurred within the confines of the 73 Precinct…It was reported to police that on Friday, Sept. 21, 2018, at approximately 1549 hours, opposite 119 Chester Street, the individual discharged a firearm two times into Chester Park, striking the 16-year-old male victim one time in the head. The individual fled the scene on foot to parts unknown.”
Shortly afterward a photo was circulated of the minor.
Oyebola told a hushed crowd of his son, “He was a bright star who touched lives in the short period of time. Timi had a bright future, way intelligent for his age, and was going to be an engineer.”
He said that his child was not in a gang but was taken at least “playing the game he loved so much at a public facility. I know I cannot get my son back, but we can prevent this from happening to another 16-year-old playing in the park.”
Oyebola surmised that his son’s killer has a “lack of love for himself, his fellow being and for God, which mostly likely resulted from a failed home, and a failed system.”
He added that all community and civic and governmental individuals and agencies in the “forefront of the fight against gun violence and active in the charge to help save young kids from all destructive acts, to please reach out and support me as I launch the Timi Foundation dedicated to rehabilitating, teaching, empowering and mentoring our inner city youth in using the game of basketball as a gateway.”
The Oyebola family announced the funeral arrangements.
The viewing (4 p.m. to 6 p.m.) and celebration service (6 p.m. to 8 p.m.) will be Friday, Oct. 5, at the Guarino Funeral Home (9222 Flatlands Ave., Brooklyn). The funeral will be Saturday, Oct. 6, with the viewing 8 a.m. to 9 a.m. and funeral from 9 a.m.to 11a.m., with the burial at Canarsie Cemetery (1370 Remsen Ave., in Brooklyn).