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NYPD hopes 2016 gang takedown solves 2012 killing of innocent tennis player

THE BRONX — It's been nearly five years since 14-year-old Kemar Brooks left his family's basement apartment, across the street from Haffen Park, and headed with his tennis bag to the courts.

The teen had developed a passion for the game after emigrating to the Bronx from Jamaica, West Indies.

"He picked it up very fast," tennis player Antonio Cedeno told PIX11 News about Kemar's athletic abilities with a racquet. "He was a natural."

Kemar Brooks never made it home alive from the park on July 27, 2012. A thunderstorm sent Kemar running for shelter with two friends to a gazebo. That's when gunshots rang out from an area near the basketball courts.

Kemar's father had told PIX11 in 2013, "It's something I will never get over."

"Initially, there were four shots fired, and all three of the boys took off running," said NYPD Detective Tom Green. "The shooter then got another angle and fired two more shots."

One of those shots hit Kemar Brooks in the head and he went down. The storm had knocked out power in the area near Gunther Avenue, in the Baychester section of the Bronx, so lights went off and surveillance cameras captured nothing.

When the teen's father, Cassell Brooks, went looking for him later that night, around the perimeter of the park, he saw nothing.

That changed the next morning, when the dad came upon his son's body inside the park, with Kemar's tennis bag still slung over his shoulder.

"My heart fell out," Brooks, a wood worker and welder, told PIX11 in 2012.

Now, as the five-year anniversary approaches, the NYPD is asking for information on the still-unsolved case.

Members of the ECG crew, which stands for Eastchester Gunners, used to hang out in sections of the park. Other crews affiliated with the Bloods gang were BMB (Big Money Bosses) and Blamma. There were turf battles that went on in the park, but 14-year-old Kemar wasn't part of that.

Lt. John Fitzpatrick told PIX11 in 2013 that in all the interviews the police did with Kemar's teachers, classmates and family, "We got nothing but what a great kid he was."

A police investigator pointed out to PIX11 that more than 100 gang members affiliated with the Bloods crews were arrested in the Bronx last April, and they're all sitting in federal prison cells now. He's hoping that a witness or anyone with information will be brave enough to come forward because the gang members are in jail.

Back in 2012, some witnesses told police a thin gunman entered the park from the Gunther Avenue side, wearing a dark hoodie, pulling out a gun near the basketball courts and then fleeing up the steps and getting into a car on Gunther Avenue.

Crime Stoppers has posted a $22,000 reward for information that leads to a conviction in the case. The phone number is 1-800-577-TIPS, and all calls are kept confidential. Callers are assigned codes that protect their identity.