Gang violence killed innocent college basketball player Darius Lee, police say in Harlem mass shooting

HARLEM, Manhattan (WABC) — A 21-year-old college basketball player was killed and eight others shot dead when gunfire broke out in Harlem.

It is believed that it was a gang shooting that killed an innocent young man.

On Tuesday morning, family and friends of the man killed at the late night barbecue spoke out as police continued to search for the gunmen.

College basketball player Darius Lee, 21, graduated from St. Raymond High School in the Bronx in 2018. He would graduate from Houston Baptist University next year.

Lee made his family, friends, coaches and teammates proud and they paid tribute to him in Harlem and Houston Monday night.

St. Raymond High School Released Statement About Former Student’s Death in an Instagram post:

“We are heartbroken and devastated by the senseless passing of Darius Lee, class of 2018. Our prayers and condolences go out to his family at this time and we pray for his eternal rest with our Lord. Apart from the fact that it is a great basketball is star, he was a phenomenal human being, and a young man who lived such a positive life, had success in school, on the field and in life. These senseless acts of violence must stop… such a tragedy.”

He was shot and killed after gunfire broke out at a cookout along the Harlem River drive around 12:30 p.m. Monday.

Nine people were shot.

Seven men and two women, ranging in age from 21 to 42, were attacked in an East River park near Fifth Avenue and East 139th Street.

Two of the people who were shot have ties to a gang, and at least one of them may have been a gunman.

Due to the location of the gunfire, opposite an overpass on the other side of the highway, little surveillance video has been recovered.

WATCH: Where the gunfire broke out and where the victims fled

According to the organizer’s Instagram post, it was specifically chosen to evade the police.

“He’s an innocent kid,” Lee’s sister Tiara Weaver said. “He decided to stay out one day, and this is what happens.”

“He was a pure soul. So nice,” said his cousin Thailyn Lee. “Wasn’t out on the streets or anything. He was all for basketball. He didn’t deserve any of this.”

Police found a gun at the scene of the accident.

Detectives believe at least three cannons were used to fire dozens of rounds.

They are still trying to determine how much.

So far there have been no arrests and they are asking for the public’s help.

Mayor Eric Adams and the police commissioner are expected to provide another update on Tuesday afternoon.

In the aftermath of the shooting, Lee’s coach expressed his grief and confusion over the untimely murder of his star.

“Darius was a remarkable young man who loved the Lord, his mother, his family, his teammates, his friends and his entire HBU family,” Ron Cottrell, HBU’s head men’s basketball coach, wrote in a statement. “We are in shock and cannot wrap our heads around this news.”

Despite the violent circumstances of Lee’s death, Cottrell added that his student-athlete left a positive legacy.

“As great as a basketball player he was, he was an even better person. I can’t even think about basketball right now. I can only think of what a light Darius was during his short time on Earth. He was a joy to watch coach and we loved him so much,” Cottrell wrote.

HBU’s athletic director, Steve Moniaci, not only expressed grief over the loss of Lee, but also scolded at yet another act of gun violence.

“He was a very fine young man who had a very bright future ahead of him both on and off court. This is unfortunately yet another example of the senseless gun violence that seems to be plaguing our country at the moment and we all pray it will stop,” Moniaci wrote in a statement.

Lee’s impact on the court was also too hard to ignore.

Last season, he was a second-team All-Southland Conference roster after leading Houston Baptist in scoring and rebounding. He was also one of the best defenders in the country, finishing sixth in the nation in steals per game.

Darius’ father Eric Lee says his son was once chubby and not a kid you would expect to become a top athlete.

But by age 21, Lee had earned one basketball scholarship after another and was a star in college. He was not a young adult anyone would expect to be a victim of gun violence.

Anyone with information is asked to call the NYPD’s Crime Stoppers Hotline at 1-800-577-TIPS (8477) or for Spanish, 1-888-57-PISTA (74782). You can also submit tips by visiting the CrimeStoppers website at: or by sending a message on Twitter @NYPDTips.

As of June 20, there have been 277 mass shootings in the US this year Archive about gun violence

There were 692 mass shootings in 2021, 611 in 2020 and 417 in 2019.
Gun Violence Archive defines a mass shooting as a shooting in which four or more people are injured or killed, not counting the perpetrator.

Sister station KTRK in Houston contributed to this report

ALSO READ | Three members of the same family killed in Queens fire

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