Wednesday, January 12, 2011

Teenager Killed In Bronx Fight

The article that really had an impact on me in the Greater NY section of today's WSJ wasn't the one about Randi's pay and the UFT's spending, but this one about a teenager in the Bronx shot and killed over some stupid quarrel.  This EXACT story is repeated, tragically, thousands of times a year across the country.  This is what the fight to fix our schools is all about, because with rare exceptions, mindless tragedies like this don't happen to kids who attend good schools, that make sure they're on grade level, that set high expectations, etc.  Make no mistake, this fight isn't ultimately about money or politics – at the end of the day, it's life or death – or, at the very least, a decent life vs. a broken, ruined life – for millions of kids.

Teenager Killed In Bronx Fight


A fight between two groups of teenagers, organized over cellphone text messages, turned deadly when a 15-year-old participant in the Bronx street brawl was shot and killed, authorities said Tuesday.

The two groups had agreed to meet under the elevated tracks of the number 2 and 5 subway lines on White Plains Road near East 219th Street in the Williamsbridge section at about 6:00 p.m. Monday, a law-enforcement official with knowledge of the case said. It was the culmination of a three-week-old feud, the cause of which police are still trying to determine, the official said.

The verbal dispute quickly turned violent, and five shots were fired at Philip Johnson, the official said. Mr. Johnson was struck twice in the chest and stumbled into a restaurant, Arkansas Fried Chicken, where he was "in and out of consciousness," the official said.

He was taken by ambulance to Jacobi Medical Center where he was pronounced dead on arrival, police said.

The suspected shooter fled and was being sought by detectives Tuesday. The official said a friend of the victim identified the shooter, who was known to Mr. Johnson. He was not named, but described as a 17-year-old boy who apparently intended to target Mr. Johnson.

The suspected killer has prior arrests, including one for a robbery with a firearm, the official said.

Police said five .25-caliber shell casings were recovered at the scene.

For Mr. Johnson's mother, the slaying represented a wrenching end to a young life that had recently begun to veer in a troubled direction.

"He was just a typical boy trying to make it, but somewhere along the line he got involved with the wrong crowd," said Elsie Johnson, Mr. Johnson's 84-year-old adoptive parent. "He couldn't quit…he got involved in order to be in with the crowd."

Ms. Johnson said she has suffered from an inoperable brain tumor, first discovered in 1980, that has had a debilitating effect on her vision. Her condition, she said, made it difficult for her to "keep up" with Mr. Johnson, whom she described as outgoing. "He never could stay still and be quiet; he was a very outgoing boy," she said.

She first came into contact with Mr. Johnson when he was just 6 weeks old after receiving a call from a foster-care agency, she said. She took him in and finally legally adopted him when he was 4-years-old, she said. "Raising him was my pride and joy," Ms. Johnson said.

But as he grew and her eye-sight worsened, Mr. Johnson became increasingly independent. Last year, he was arrested for criminal possession of marijuana, the law-enforcement official said.

"He didn't want to be no mama's boy," Ms. Johnson said. "He wanted to grow up how he wanted to grow up. I played a part in that too; I couldn't keep up with him."

On Monday, Ms. Johnson gave her son $5 when he came home from the New Explorers High School, where he was a student. He told her was going out to get something to eat, but never returned. "I never thought anything like this was going to happen," she said of his murder. "I was trying to get him on the right track and make a home for him."

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