A funeral at a Brooklyn church turned violent when six people were shot outside the Flatbush Avenue venue last night. Two men were killed while four others sustained non-fatal gun shot wounds. One witness believed there were 25 shots fired and a police source told the Daily News, "Rival gang members heard about the funeral and decided to start shooting the place up."
According to police, the gunfire occurred just before 8:30 p.m., outside the Emanuel Church of God at 1365 Flatbush Avenue. Responding officers found five injured people. Sharieff Clayton, 40, who was shot in the abdomen, was pronounced dead at Kings County Hospital, as was Ronald Murphy, 44, who was shot in the chest. Three others— 40-year-old man who was shot in the hand; a 38-year-old woman who was shot in the leg; a 29-year-old woman who was shot in the leg—were injured.
A fourth person, a 40-year-old man with a gunshot wound to the torso, was found in a car five blocks away at 638 East 32nd Street. It's believed his injury was related to the shooting, and the News says he might be one of the gunmen.
NBC New York reports, "Police said they are looking for multiple shooters and believe shots were fired both from outside the church and from within. ShotSpotter technology shows 15 rounds were fired in the area at the time of the shooting, but it was unclear how many rounds hit the church, according to police."
The funeral was for a former gang member, Jose Luis Robles, who apparently died of natural causes. The Post reports that Robles' relatives don't think the shooting was gang-related, "Witnesses said an argument broke out and two people started firing their weapons." A mourner said, "Everybody was waiting in line to pay their respects and a fight broke out... I saw some punches being thrown, some guy hit the ground and dropped, then the shooting started."
Mr. Robles, a father of two who lived in Brooklyn, was known as Cheo. He died on April 16. An obituary included in a flier from the service described him as having overcome “many obstacles” and said that he was 60 credits away from a degree in neuroscience from Manhattan College. Mr. Marroquin, a close friend of Mr. Robles, said in an interview early Tuesday morning that Mr. Robles had served time in prison for murder. “He got married in that church, he changed his life 100 percent. He left the streets. He left the life. Right now, a war started. This is a war.” A cousin of Mr. Robles’s, who asked to be identified only as Hazel, said she was in shock. “I’m just trying to piece this together,” she said. “He was a very beautiful person. He was 38. He died of natural causes. He fell asleep. It was nothing gang related. That’s why this is very surprising.”
City Councilman Jumaane Williams said, "If we can prevent retaliatory shootings from this particular shooting we will have something positive to talk about and my hope is that the law enforcement will be able to do their job and hold the shooters accountable. This is just a reckless, reckless abandon of life to just start shooting up at a funeral like this and it's something that we have to address."
— Alex S. Vitale (@avitale) April 28, 2015