2008-07-18 / Front Page

Teen Busted In Shotgun Slay

By Howard Schwach

Police acted swiftly in the wake of the shotgun murder of a former Far Rockaway High School athletescholar with the arrest of a teen who, they say, held a longtime grudge against the murdered man.

Patrick Hernandez's Middle School 53 graduation photo. Patrick Hernandez's Middle School 53 graduation photo. Police have identified the teen as Karon Lenihan, 17, of 38-08 Beach Channel Drive in Edgemere in the July 10 murder of Patrick Hernandez, 18, an honor roll student and standout athlete who recently graduated from the high school and who was to enroll at SUNY Cortland in September.

Hernandez was walking with his brother, 16-year-old Ralphael Jones, on Thursday morning, July 10, coming home from his summer job cleaning the beach, when a blue sedan with tinted windows pulled up to the two.

According to police sources, a teenager, now identified as Lenihan, jumped from the passenger seat, pointing a shotgun at the brothers.

Jones told police that the teen shouted, "What now?" Before either of them could react, the younger brother said, Lenihan fired once into Hernandez's chest, killing him.

Lenihan then reportedly jumped back into the car and fled the scene.

Friends and relatives of the slain teen gather outside of 15-02 Mott Avenue on Friday. Friends and relatives of the slain teen gather outside of 15-02 Mott Avenue on Friday. Police say they are still looking for the driver of the car and another man who was said to be in the car at the time of the shooting.

Jones, however, recognized the gunman as a local who had a longstanding rivalry with his brother, although police sources declined to detail just what that rivalry was about.

Police did say that the rivalry had been going on since grade school and then at Middle School 53 in Far Rockaway. They added that there was some evidence that the two had once worked together in the Summer Youth Employment Program, but would provide no details.

Family members and friends gathered on Friday in

front of 15-02 Mott Avenue, where Hernandez lived with his parents. A street memorial to the slain teen has grown in that area.

"I don't know why it happened, but it doesn't make any sense no matter what the reason was," one teen, who asked not to be identified, told a reporter.

Hernandez, who was the starting free safety and backup quarterback for the high school team, had graduated six months early and was holding down two jobs - one at the beach and another at a retail outlet in the evening.

A guidance counselor who worked with Hernandez during his three years at the school called him "an outstanding young man" and a "role model for the other students."

City Councilman James Sanders, Jr., who represents the Far Rockaway community, said on Wednesday that he has sympathy for both the Hernandez and Lenihan families.

"While we applaud the police department for making an arrest, we have to comment on the tragedy times two," Sanders said. "A young man is lost to us forever, his hopes and dreams … The tragedy is the shooter's family, too. They go to jail and their family goes to jail [as well]."

Assemblywoman Audrey Pheffer told The Wave on Tuesday that Hernandez's mother was having trouble raising money for a proper funeral.

While the city's Victims Assistance Unit provides about $6,000, the cost is far more, Pheffer said.

She is asking those interested in donating money for the funeral to send that money to the Rockaway Development and Revitalization Corporation at 1920 Mott Avenue, Far Rockaway, New York, 11691. Those who do so should specify that the money is for Hernandez's funeral.

Court records show that Lenihan was remanded without bail for his next hearing.

He has been charged with murder in the second degree and criminal possession of a weapon, according to a spokesperson for Queens District Attorney Richard Brown. He faces a sentence of 25 years to life should he be convicted of the charge.

Lenihan's legal aide attorney, Eugene Sarchiago, could not be reached for comment.

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