Slain Teen Shot Over Basketball Game, Witnesses Say

Sixteen-year-old Laquan Nelson was shot yesterday evening in the Lafayette Gardens Houses and collapsed in front of the 88th Precinct station house. (Photo by Emily Field)
Sixteen-year-old Laquan Nelson was shot yesterday evening in the Lafayette Gardens Houses and collapsed in front of the 88th Precinct station house. (Photo by Emily Field)

Laquan Nelson, 16, was a straight-A student killed last night for playing basketball, according to witnesses who saw the shooting at the Lafayette Gardens Houses.

The teenager, nicknamed Popcorn, was shot in the torso yesterday around 5:45 p.m. outside his home, before walking to the 88th Precinct station house and collapsing in the street. Emergency Medical Services took him to the Brooklyn Hospital Center where he was pronounced dead on arrival. Police are still searching for the shooter and do not yet have a description.

Nelson was shot with a .22 caliber handgun, according to police. The Chief Medical Examiner’s Office did not yet have information on the exact cause of death.

Neighbors mourn Laquan Nelson, 16, in the Lafayette Gardens Houses where he grew up. (Photo by Emily Field)
Neighbors mourn Laquan Nelson, 16, in the Lafayette Gardens Houses where he grew up. (Photo by Emily Field)

A 16-year-old girl, who said she had grown up with Laquan Nelson, said she saw the shooting. She asked to be identified by her initials for fear of retaliation.

“He got shot for playing basketball in his own park,” R.S. said. Laquan Nelson had been playing basketball with a group of friends – just as she saw him doing many days after school – when a group of teens chased them away, R.S. said.

“His friend stopped and Popcorn stopped too, and that’s when he was shot” R.S. said. “He was struggling to get up, saying, ‘I’m ok, I’m ok.'”

“He wasn’t gang-related, he had nothing to do with gangs at all,” R.S. said. “His grandma made sure he went to school everyday.”

Shirley Nelson, 64, said she had raised her grandson on her own. He was a junior at W.H. Maxwell Career and Technical Education High School in East New York and did not have any siblings, she said.

“He was going to graduate next year,” Nelson said. “He wanted to be a basketball player and he wanted to make glasses.”

Shirley Nelson holds a pair of glasses her grandson made for her. (Photo by Emily Field)
Shirley Nelson holds a pair of glasses her grandson made for her. (Photo by Emily Field)

“That boy went to school all the time,” neighbor John Harley, 72, said.

“Shootings always happen,” Harley said. Last October, a 24-year-old woman was shot and killed as she was walking in the Lafayette Gardens courtyard. “It’s getting worse now that it’s summer,” Harley said.

“They got to get their kids away from here.”

Anyone who has information about the shooting is encouraged to call NYPD Crime Stoppers at (800) 577-TIPS (8477), submit tips online or text tips to 274637 (CRIMES) and enter TIP577. Those with information can also call the 88th Precinct’s Detective Squad at (718) 636-6547.

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