2004-04-09 / Front Page

Teen Shot In Housing Turf Battle

By Brian Magoolaghan
Teen Shot In Housing Turf Battle

The teenager who was shot in Far Rockaway last Sunday was struggling to stay out of trouble and trying to get his life together, but wound up a victim in the turf battle between Rockaway housing complexes, according to his aunt.

Rayson Smith, 17, took the test for his General Equivalency Diploma two weeks ago and was supposed to be going on job interviews this week, according to his aunt, Genelle Hughes. Instead, Smith was lying in a bed at Jamaica Hospital with a bullet permanently lodged in his back after two gunmen shot him at about 1:30 p.m. on March 4.

Smith, who once lived with his parents in the Ocean Village housing complex, is a resident at the Edwin Gould Academy, a center for youths in upstate Rockland County, Hughes said. On weekend visits, Smith would stay at Hughes' apartment at 1472 Beach Channel Drive, in Far Rockaway, near the Redfern Houses, in a deliberate attempt to keep out of trouble, said Hughes.

Law enforcement sources told The Wave that Smith pled guilty to a grand larceny charge in 2002 and was arrested for disorderly conduct last month. Smith recived a residential care sentence for the 2002 offenses and was given a conditional discharge for the more recent incident.

"He was working on getting his life together," Hughes told The Wave. Smith would typically stay from Saturday afternoon to Sunday afternoon, and would watch movies with his girlfriend - leaving occasionally to get a bite to eat from a local store, Hughes said.

But Smith, whose Ocean Village up bring ing apparently makes him persona non grata in Redfern, may have been recognized by a former high school acquaintance, said a source familiar with the shooting who asked not to be identified.

"This is a territory thing. Anyone who comes from Ocean Village to Redfern is going to have a problem and vice versa," the source said.

Smith was in a hallway in Hughes' building when the gunfire erupted. Police said he fled after the shots rang out and collapsed in front of 1480 Beach Channel Drive after bullets tore through his wrist and into his back.

Now Hughes says she is worried about her own safety, and the busy full-time student who works two jobs said she does not want Smith or her other nieces and nephews to visit anymore.

"It's a shame," Hughes said.

Police searched the entire Redfern Housing area and set up vehicle checkpoints in the hunt for the suspects and the weapon they used. Officers recovered two spent rounds from the hallway, but have not identified any suspects and have so far made no arrests.

Smith was in stable condition at Jamaica Hospital on Wednesday.


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