Promising basketball prospect Brandon Hendricks, 17, has been shot dead in New York and used his final words to ask a friend to call his mum.
The tragedy came amid a spate of gun violence in the city – including the death of another young man and ex-basketballer, Tracey Washington, who left a final message that has gone viral (story below).
Hendricks, who graduated from James Monroe High School last week, was shot just before midnight in an area of The Bronx, Morris Heights.
The teenager was at a friend’s birthday party when shots were fired. Police discovered him with a bullet wound to the neck and he was pronounced dead after being rushed to St. Barnabas Hospital.
A friend who witnessed the incident spoke to The New York Post and revealed Hendricks’ final words.
“In the blink of an eye, me and my friends are running away,” said Hammad Singleton, 18.
“I turn around and he told me, ‘I got hit’, and I just seen it. I grabbed him and said we can’t stop right here because there’s more shots going off.
“He stopped at the steps and we sat him down. He started wobbling. So, I sat him down. My friends took off his shirt and I’m holding that for him.
“My friends took off his shirt and I’m holding that for him. I’m talking to him: ‘You’re good, bro, you’re good?’ He’s like, ‘Yeah, I’m OK, I’m OK’.”
“He’s trying to smile. He’s trying to talk to me: ‘I’m good, I’m good’. He said, ‘Yo, Bam (Singleton), I love you. Call my mum.’
“He just closed his eyes. He didn’t say anything else after that. That was it.”
Hendricks’ devastated mother, Eve, told reporters: “He didn’t do drugs, no gangs. He had a basketball scholarship. He was going to college.”
Witnesses reportedly told police that Hendricks was involved in an argument before the shooting, but Singleton insisted that he was an innocent bystander.
“It really wasn’t meant for him,” he said. “Wrong place, wrong time.
“The people who were with me are all basketball players. Nothing to do with the streets.”
Hendricks’ uncle, Noel Ellison, spoke to his nephew just before his death. The two regularly attended church together.
“We spoke [at around] 9:30 last night,” Ellison told The New York Daily News. “Two hours later, he was gone.
“We were talking about the things he had to do in preparation to go to college.
“He was nothing but a beautiful, stellar child, a youngster beloved by everyone he comes across. He’s the kid you want your daughter to marry.”
Hendricks was captain of his high school basketball team for the past two years and had just decided to go to junior college at West Hills College in California. He was a point guard and a natural leader.
“He was an athlete. He was a leader. He was charming. Everybody loved him,” Monroe assistant coach Chris Salgado told The New York Post.
“He was just a people’s person. That’s why it hurts so much, because he wasn’t a street kid.”
A candlelight vigil was held near Hendricks’ Bronx home after the shooting, drawing more than 200 people.
SHOOTING VICTIM’S EERIE FINAL MESSAGE
Tracey Washington, 21, was shot in Crown Heights, Brooklyn, on Monday after pulling up in a taxi on Dean Street just after 6pm. The shooter was waiting for him.
Washington made an ominous Facebook post nine hours before his death, which has now been widely shared.
“Oh yea I got the job I start tomorrow construction plz don’t kill me,” he wrote.
His grandmother, Maybell Washington, told The New York Daily News that people who knew her grandson had informed her that Tracey received a phone call while in the taxi. The call caused him to re-route his journey to where he was killed.
“He got a call and he went to Weeksville,” Mrs Washington said. “He wasn’t (originally) going to Weeksville (an adjacent suburb to Crown Heights), where he was killed at. He was going somewhere else.
“I don’t know where he was going. He had just left the house. His sister said she heard him leave out the door about 6 o’clock.
“Someone set up my child.”
Washington’s twin sister, Stacey, told the Daily News that she did not know why anyone would want to hurt her brother.
“He was a good person,” she said. “I just feel like, who would do this? Everyone knew him … I just wanna know who did it.”
Washington was a high school basketballer at the Eagle Academy for Young Men II in Brooklyn.