New York

Arrest Made in Birthday Death of NYC Honors Student: Police

'He was a really good kid. He was probably the least deserving kid in this neighborhood for something like this.'

What to Know

  • A 16-year-old boy died after he was shot on a Brooklyn street corner a day after celebrating his birthday over the weekend, authorities say
  • Police now are saying they arrested Ralief Bradford, 24, of Brooklyn, and charged him with murder in connection with the teen's death
  • Two more suspects are still being sought in the boy's East New York slaying, the NYPD says

Police say they have made an arrest in connection with the shooting death of teenage honors student who had just celebrated his birthday a day before he was gunned down on a Brooklyn street in front of a bodega.

Ralief Bradford, 24, of Brooklyn, is charged with murder, gang assault, criminal use of a firearm, and criminal possession of a weapon in the death of Justin Richey, according to the NYPD. It wasn't clear if he had an attorney who could comment on the allegations. 

Richey, who was also called "Chuck," was found unconscious near Blake Avenue and Pine Street in East New York Sunday evening, a day after celebrating his 16th birthday, police said.  

Officials said the boy was shot after getting into an argument outside a nearby bodega with someone who opened fire. Surveillance video showed him being punched before someone pulled a gun and shot him several times. 

He had several gunshot wounds to his chest, back, abdomen and ribs, the NYPD said. 

Richey tried to get help but by the time emergency officers arrived, he was in cardiac arrest. He was taken to Brookdale Hospital, and pronounced dead a short time later. 

Richey, who wanted to be a doctor, was a pillar in the community, neighbors and friends said. 

"He cared about his family," said friend Keith Watkins. "He wanted to take care of his family, and his family to be all right." 

Another friend said, "All he wanted to do was make people laugh, take care of his mother and his siblings." 

Bodega owner Rubel Uddin showed a photo he took of Richey on his graduation day a few weeks ago. He was so impressed by the teen.

Uddin gave Richey a free soda on his birthday; less than 24 hours later, the teen was dead.

It's not clear why Richey was targeted. Police said he had no criminal history and was not known to be affiliated with any gang. Instead, he was known to help neighbors, shoveling their snow and carrying their groceries. 

"He was a really good kid, man," said Mike Blake. "He was probably the least deserving kid in this neighborhood for something like this." 

The investigation is ongoing and police said they are still looking for two more suspects in the case. 

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