Though prosecutors say he gave a written and videotaped confession, the 16-year-old Bronx boy accused of shooting two teens on a crowded street Monday afternoon pleaded not guilty at his arraignment yesterday. As his mother wept in the third row of the courtroom, Carvett Gentles and four other young men—all members of the "Gorilla Stone Blood" gang—were arraigned and sent to Rikers Island without bail. Gentles lawyer maintained his client's innocence, insisting, "He does well in school, he comes from a nice family." But some members of this "nice family" happen to be the older gang members who allegedly handed Gentles the gun and told him to shoot—because he was the only one without an arrest record.
Suspect Rohan Francis, 18, is Gentles's uncle, and brothers Cleve Smith, 20, and Clivie Smith, 19, are cousins, according to the Daily News. Gentles's mother Zelita Mighty moved to the Bronx from Jamaica over a decade ago, and at age 6 Carvett joined her a few years after her arrival. But Gentles's father could not get a visa, and Gentles doesn't get along with his step-father, so he's been living with Francis. Some neighbors who know Gentles insist he showed promise by gaining admission to the Bronx Leadership Academy, but he soon began skipping class and hanging with a "tough crowd."
According to a criminal complaint obtained by the Times, Clivie Smith had once beaten Gentles's mother in the nose and forehead, bloodying her and sending her to a hospital. During the assault, Smith had a gun in his waistband and told her, "I’ll make one phone call and all this will be smashed up." Michael Arterberry, director of the Youth Voices Center, tells CBS2 it's likely Gentles fell prey to some "perverted mentoring... The older guys are able to manipulate the situation and get these younger people to do things because they feel as if that's being loyal."
Gentles reportedly wept when investigators told him that one of the six bullets he fired had exploded inside the skull of bystander Vada Vasquez, 15, who is still in a medically-induced coma. Prosecutors believe Gentles had fired on the intended victim, Tyrone Creighton, as part of gang retaliation for an assault carried out by Creighton's brother on Rikers Island—where the five young men have now been sent.