EAST HARLEM, Manhattan (PIX11) — The devastated father of a slain college basketball player hopes his son didn’t die in vain.
Darius Lee, 21, was killed when gunfire erupted in East Harlem at a Father’s Day/Juneteenth cookout. He was home from college for summer vacation. Eight others were injured in the shooting early Monday. Hurting after his son’s death, Eric Lee had a message for young people who pick up guns.
“Put it down, there’s no need for it,” the dad said. “Leave the guns at home, get rid of them.”
The basketball player did everything he could to stay away from the streets and violence, Eric Lee said. The shooting victim was a straight-A student with his eyes set on the NBA.
“He wanted to do it all and he practiced hard,” the dad said.
Darius Lee went to Houston Baptist University on a scholarship. He was set to graduate with his bachelor’s in December, according to the school. The student was recently named HBU Robbie Robertson Male Student-Athlete of the Year, according to HBU. He was a second team All-Southland Conference selection for the 2021-22 season.
Eric Lee is confident his son’s killer will be caught. He spoke to Mayor Eric Adams about the shooting and investigation.
“He gave me his word,” the dad said about the mayor. “He said they’re gong to find him.”
No arrests have been made in Darius Lee’s death. Police are searching for more than one shooter. A firearm was recovered at the scene.
Submit tips to police by calling Crime Stoppers at 1-800-577-TIPS (8477), visiting crimestoppers.nypdonline.org, downloading the NYPD Crime Stoppers mobile app, or texting 274637 (CRIMES) then entering TIP577. Spanish-speaking callers are asked to dial 1-888-57-PISTA (74782).