NEW YORK (PIX11) — Cassell Brooks won’t ever shake the memory of finding his 14 year old son’s body in the park, across the street from his Bronx home.
“My heart fell out,” Brooks recalled recently. “I just lost myself that moment.”
On July 27th, 2012, teenager Kemar Brooks did what he did almost every evening. He grabbed his tennis bag and walked across the street to the courts in Haffen Park.
The young immigrant from Kingston, Jamaica had started learning the game the year before, and he had earned the
respect of more seasoned players at the park.
“He picked it up very fast,” Antonio Cedeno told PIX 11. “He was a natural.”
On this particular July night, thunderstorms erupted and Kemar Brooks ran for shelter with two friends into a gazebo next to the tennis courts.
That’s when witnesses say a thin gunman entered the park from Gunther Avenue, wearing a dark hoodie, pulling out a gun near the basketball courts.
“Initially, there were 4 shots fired, and all three of the boys took off running,” said Detective Tom Green of the 47th Detective Squad. “The shooter then got another angle and fired two, more shots.”
One shot hit Kemar Brooks in the back of his head, and he fell–face down–into the dirt by the park’s picnic tables.
The thunderstorms caused power outages, so when Kemar’s father went to look for him later that night, he didn’t see any sign of his son.
That changed the next morning, just after dawn, when Cassell Brooks found his dead son, with the tennis bag still slung over his shoulder.
“It’s something that I will never get over,” Mr. Brooks said.
Now, the NYPD is making a renewed call for more people to come forward with information. The gunman was seen jumping into a car on Gunther Avenue.
Detective Green said there was a lot of gang activity in the park, but young Kemar had nothing to do with it.
Lieutenant John Fitzpatrick said “In Kemar’s case, we got nothing but what a great kid he was.”
Crime Stoppers is offering a $22,000 reward for information that leads to the conviction of Kemar’s killer. The phone number is 1-800-577-TIPS.
The police are still holding Kemar’s tennis bag and racquets as evidence.
The teen’s father cherishes a “memorial” tennis racquet created by Kemar’s friends.
One of the messages reads, “I saw you on the court, and the energy you brought was positive.”