2001-01-20 / Front Page

Teen Football Star Laid To Rest

Teen Football Star Laid To Rest

Perp Turns Self In, Arraigned On Murder Charges

By Joan Ward George

Whether it was a prolonged argument over a cell-phone or a beef between guys over a girl, the result was fatal, and Thomas Kareem Johnson was gunned down on an Edgemere street, shot dead in broad daylight last Wednesday afternoon.

When The Wave went to press Thursday little was known about the victim of the 101 Precinct’s first homicide of the year. The focus of the story was on catching his killer, who had been positively identified by witnesses as Charles Seeley, a 19 year old resident of 56-16 Beach Channel drive, which also happened to be the scene of the murder. Seeley had a history with crime and was well known to the police. He had four prior arrests, including one for assault. An intense search for Seeley was immediately put into action, and detectives contacted The Wave at press time to go forward with a "Most Wanted" story on the alleged murderer in hopes that it would bring him out in the open.

At a Saturday morning press conference held at the 101 Precinct, Deputy Chief Detective Joseph Reznick called Johnson’s murder "senseless". He delivered a brief recount, stating that an argument that started earlier on the day of the murder led to the afternoon encounter between Seeley, Johnson, Johnson’s cousin and two friends. As Johnson and his associates were walking away from Seeley, he allegedly drew a .380 automatic handgun and immediately fired off two shots. Johnson, a witness said, turned to look in Seeley’s direction and was hit once above the eye as five more shots were fired.

Police do not believe that the incident was gang related, as none of the young men involved in the incident is known to associate with gang members. According to Reznick, they just knew each other from the neighborhood.

Deputy Chief Reznick told the crowd at the press conference that throughout the entire investigation the detectives covering the case heard nothing but "praise and admiration for Thomas and his family as we walked around the neighborhood." He said, "Society has lost a good young man."

Johnson’s parents are highly respected members of the Rockaway community. His mother, Juanita, is employed at the 100 Precinct as a payroll administrator, and his father, Thomas Sr., is employed at the Neponsit Adult Day Care Center. Thomas has three brothers and two sisters, and friends and neighbors say that this is a close-knit family who even have their own private handshake. It’s called "fam-click", and it symbolizes for them love, togetherness and family.

Seeley, accompanied to the 101 Precinct by his parents, turned himself in Saturday morning. He was arrested and charged with murder 2. According to the Queens District Attorney’s office, Seeley was arraigned on two counts of murder 2 and criminal possession of a weapon in the second degree. He remains in custody, and is next scheduled to appear in court on January 30. If convicted Seeley could be facing 25 years to life in prison for allegedly taking Tommy Johnson’s life and dreams away with a single shot to the head.

Johnson, described by all who knew him as a "good young man", was a junior football star at Christ The King High School. His passion for sports began as young as six years old, having played for the Far Rockaway Little League.

At his funeral services held Monday at the First Baptist Church in Far Rockaway, Michael Lynch, principal of Christ The King said, "Tommy contributed much and made our high school a better place." Johnson was being stroked for recruitment by Yale, Princeton, and Harvard, and by all accounts had a stellar football career and excellent college education ahead of him.

Congressman Meeks, who also attended the standing room crowd funeral services, praised Johnson’s parents, Thomas and Juanita. "Thank you for a job well done. You raised a young man who was a shining example of life."

Services honoring the life of Tommy Johnson were held at Gaffney Funeral Home and First Baptist Church, Far Rockaway. He was laid to rest this past Tuesday at Amityville Cemetery.


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