A Brooklyn teenager was sentenced Monday for the deadly shooting of an honors student playing basketball after school in 2018.
Aaron Nathaniel was sentenced to 10 years to life in prison for the fatal shooting of Oluwadurotimi "Timi" Oyebola nearly four years ago. Nathaniel, who was just 14 when he was arrested, pleaded guilty to second-degree murder on April 6.
"This heartbreaking case highlights the devastation gun violence wreaks in our communities. An innocent, beloved teenager was senselessly killed when this defendant callously sprayed a Brownsville basketball court with bullets," Brooklyn District Attorney Eric Gonzalez said. "A promising life has been cut short, a family remains in mourning, and after living through a troubled childhood, this young defendant’s future is now in ruins."
Oyebola, who was just 16 at the time, was on a basketball court at the Chester Playground on Chester Street on Sept. 21, 2018, when gunfire range out just before 4 p.m. Oyebola was shot in the head and rushed to Brookdale Hospital, where he was pronounced dead.
Nathaniel was arrest 12 days after the shooting. The violent incident was captured on video surveillance, which showed him holding a gun. Nathaniel admitted to the shooting, and said Oyebola was not the intended target, according to DA Gonzalez.
Oyebola, who was from Queens, was an honors student at Ascend Charter School in Brownsville, and was called a bright, "good" kid who loved basketball and stayed out of trouble. The 11th-grader already had scholarships offered to him.
His father, David Olawane Oyebola, previously told NBC New York that Oyebola was "highly intelligent, God-fearing… very focused. He loved basketball... They cut his life short. They cut his life short."
Oyebola's father said he’d asked his son to stop playing basketball: "'What are you getting from it?'" he recalled asking his son.
But the honor-roll student said he didn’t want to give up the sport.
"'No, no, I love basketball, dad, I will not disappoint you. I am good in my academics,'" his father recalled Oyebola saying.
After Nathaniel was arrested for the murder, Oyebola's parents said they didn't hate the boy who killed their son.
"When I see him, I'm going to say give your life to Christ," said Oyebola. "I've already forgiven him in my heart."
The father said he and his wife want to focus their energy on preventing future gun violence among youth.
"I don't want to see another 14-year-old doing what he did," he said. "And I don't want another 14-year-old be incarcerated because I know they have been manipulated."
Early on during the criminal court proceedings, Oyebola's parents said they wanted to know how someone so young could kill another person.
"Can you imagine?" said Oyebola's father, David Olawane Oyebola. "Fourteen years of age. Fourteen years of age. Who raised him? What is the background?"
"I need to know the parents of this boy," said mother Adetutu Oyebola. "I need to know the parents."