Thirty-three gangsters and associates have been indicted on charges stemming from a bloody feud that claimed innocent bystanders, including the life of a 14-year-old boy playing basketball in a housing project in Queens, New York.
The arrests stemmed from a war between three street gangs. Five reputed gang members indicated in the case were charged with murder in two cases of mistaken identity—one, the shooting of 14-year-old Aamir Griffin, the other of a man mistaken for a rival.
In the wake of the news of the indictment, Aamir’s mother, Shanequa Griffin, told ABC7 New York she’ll never be the same.
“Getting up, going to work every day, sometimes it’s a struggle just for me to get out of the bed,” she told the station.
The indictment capped a nearly three-year investigation into gun and gang violence in and around the Baisley Park Houses. Officials said it was one of their largest gang takedowns ever in the area.
“Whether it was a young man playing basketball with friends, a schoolteacher walking his dog, or a mother running out for milk for her children, we have seen law-abiding New Yorkers peacefully going about their business killed by mindless gang gun violence,” District Attorney Melinda Katz said in a statement. “We must do absolutely everything we can to get illegal firearms off of our streets.”
Police Commissioner Keechant Sewell said the people of New York City are safer.
“Our pledge is always to achieve justice for crime victims and to hold violent gang members who undermine public safety accountable for their crimes,” Sewell said.
A 151-count indictment charges them with conspiracy in the first, second and fourth degrees, murder in the second degree and other charges. The defendants range from 17 to 40 years old.
At the center of the conspiracy is a blood feud among the street gangs Money World, Local Trap Stars, and Never Forget Loyalty.
A slashing set off the gang war in April 2019 and escalated after the murder of 14-year-old Aamir Griffin in October 2019. Since then, police have recorded more than 22 shootings, one fatal.
“The feud has been fueled through social media and rap videos, with both sides bragging about violent exploits and taunting their rivals, including disrespecting deceased family and friends,” prosecutors said.
Authorities said a “gang war” between Money World and Local Trap Stars that started in April 2019 triggered the investigation that led to the indictment and arrests announced Tuesday.
The war began on April 16, 2019, when Money World members Tyseam Mcrae and Tymirh Bey-Foster punched and kicked a Trap Stars member, then slashed him across the nape of the neck, causing severe scarring and deformity, prosecutors said.
More than six months later, on Oct. 26, 2019, Money World member Sean Brown mistook Aamir Griffin for a rival gang member and fired three shots from a .380 caliber pistol while the teen was playing basketball in the housing projects.
A bullet pierced the boy’s lungs and killed him.
On July 3, 2020, a Money World member was shot in the leg in a gun battle with members of the Local Trap Stars outside a hotel.
On Jan 28, 2020, a Trap Star member shot a Money World member in the leg in a crowd of students outside a high school.
On March 14, 2020, Money World members shot through a playground at the projects toward rival gang members. A few hours later, Local Trap Stars members opened fire on the house of a Money World member.
On Dec. 31, 2020, Sean Vance, 26, was shot and killed in the driver’s seat of a BMW when a Honda driven by Money World member Justin Harvey pulled up and Money World member Tymirh Bey-Foster got out of the Honda with a gun and fired eight shots at Vance.
Authorities said the murder was planned after the suspects mistakenly believed Vance was involved in the shooting of a Money World member earlier that day.
The violence continued with at least two more shootings, one on Aug. 23, hitting an innocent bystander and barely missing a 7-year-old. The other, in January, left an innocent bystander walking to a deli with a shoulder wound.
Bey-Foster, 20, faces a slew of charges, including second-degree murder, attempted murder, assault, conspiracy, hindering prosecution, and criminal possession of a weapon. If convicted, he faces 25 years to life in prison.
Brown, 20, is charged with conspiracy in the second degree, conspiracy in the fourth degree, two counts of murder in the second degree, four counts of criminal possession of a weapon in the second degree and reckless endangerment in the first degree. If convicted, Brown faces 25 years to life in prison.
Mcrae, 21, faces charges of conspiracy, attempted murder, assault and criminal possession of a weapon. If convicted, McRae faces 25 years in prison.
Adrienne Adams, the speaker of the New York City Council, said in a statement that she was in tears over Aamir’s death.
“We were all in tears as we collectively grieved his loss,” she said in a statement. “Since Aamir’s death from him, our community has continuously come together to uplift his life from him and support his family from him.
“The devastating toll of gun violence disproportionately impacts families and communities, like mine in Southeast Queens, which have experienced far too many losses to bear. While we must never forget Aamir Griffin, Sean Vance, and countless others whose lives were cut short by violence, it is critical that we also not forget the surviving families and communities and ensuring their recovery and well-being.”
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