Final goodbyes were said in New Jersey for a rising high school basketball star killed by gun violence before he could live out his dream.
Family and friends buried Letrell Duncan on Saturday, almost two weeks after the 16-year-old was shot and killed near a family grocery store and schools in East Orange. He was considered one of the top 10 basketball recruits in the state.
Police are still hunting for the person who shot the high school sophomore four times in the head on Lincoln Street near Park Avenue on the afternoon of Oct. 3. The frightening commotion unfolded just as children were let out of class.
Anger and anguish poured out at Duncan’s emotional funeral at the New Hope Baptist Church.
“He was just a young boy who had a dream. He believed that basketball was gonna get him and his family out of here,” Naima Hall, of East Orange, said.
Janet Murphy knows all too well what the Duncan family is going through. Sixteen years ago, her son was shot and killed in East Orage.
“They gonna need a whole lot of time, a whole lot of support, a whole lot of love and prayers because it’s not easy. When it get quiet, when everybody’s gone, that’s when she really needs someone to step in and that’s where I will be when it get quiet, because it got quiet for me,” Murphy said.
Last week, Duncan’s grandmother spoke passionately at a memorial for the grandson that she raised, and made a plea to President Joe Biden to do something about the gun violence killing Black tough.
“Letrell’s job was to bury me. The worst thing I did was pick out the coffin for him. Do you know how that feels?” Pamela Courten exclaimed at the memorial.
A 16-year-old was shot and killed on a street corner in East Orange on Monday, as bullets flew near schools right as students were being let out for the day. NBC New York’s Anjali Hemphill reports.
The Essex County Prosecutor’s Office is leading the investigation into Duncan’s killing. So far, there has been no word on any arrests. A $10,000 reward is being offered for information that leads to an arrest.
Surveillance video from nearby the corner Duncan was shot showed people running, and police responding to the scene shortly after. Frantic friends and classmates tried to help the teen, but he did not survive.
“I heard kids screaming then I heard three shots go off. I turned the corner and next thing I know, I see the kid laying down on the ground with blood,” said a 15-year-old named Mike.