2008-05-23 / Front Page

North Carolina Teen Shot In Broad Daylight

A teenager who once lived in Rockaway, but was sent to live with relatives in North Carolina because of the violence locally, was shot once in the head and killed as he walked into a restaurant on Mott Avenue and Beach 21 Street on Monday afternoon, police say.

The body of Tyrese Johnson lies on the sidewalk in front of 1075 Beach 21 Street in Far Rockaway on Monday afternoon. Five men were shot at that same location early on Sunday morning. Photo by Anthony Huguet.
Police identified the youth as Tyrese "Pop" Johnson, 16, who was visiting his family on Regina Avenue in Far Rockaway when he was shot.

Eyewitnesses say that Johnson was walking into Sissys West Indian & American Restaurant & Bar at 1075 Beach 21 Street at about 2:15 in the afternoon when he was shot. That is the same corner where five men were shot early on Sunday morning.

The eleventh grader had been spending a month with his parents, a storeowner and a correction officer, officials say. He had been living with an aunt in North Carolina for the past year.

Johnson's father, Stanley Johnson, told reporters that his wife had sent Tyrese south to "get away from this world."

"I can't believe they're shooting people in broad daylight," he added.

Johnson refuted a published contention that his son was targeted because of his gang involvement.

"He was no gang member, and he must have been targeted by mistake," Johnson said.

Police sources say that the shooting may be linked to the hostilities that claimed the life of 15-year-old Brandon Bethea, who was shot from long distance as she danced in front of a building in the Redfern Houses complex on May 17.

There is also speculation that the two murders may also be linked to the shooting of five men just steps from where Johnson was shot and killed. The five, who police declined to identify, suffered non-fatal injuries in the incident.

Those men where shot from an SUV at 2 a.m. on Sunday morning, and police quickly corralled the alleged shooters. One Long Island resident has been charged with attempted murder in that shooting.

Published reports on Wednesday said that the gunman who shot the teen may have been caught on a surveillance video taken from a nearby camera, but The Wave has not been able to corroborate that report. The source said that detectives are looking for two teens - both in hooded sweatshirts - who were seen in the area during the shooting.

While Captain Brian McMahon, the Commanding Officer of the 101 Precinct, would not comment directly on the possibility of a tape of the shooters, he did tell The Wave, "We've retrieved video from it and [detectives] are looking at it."

Family members told The Wave that Tyrese was mistaken for the younger brother of a man the killer had an altercation with earlier. The shooter, they say, wanted to retaliate against that man's younger brother and got Tyrese instead.

Detectives from the 101 Precinct Squad and the Queens Homicide Squad are investigating.

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