Neighbors in Harlem identified the college basketball star home from school break as the 21-year-old killed in a mass shooting that also injured eight others early Monday.
"It's beyond senseless," Darius Lee's high school basketball coach, Chris Williams, said of the gun violence that claimed the athlete's life.
Lee was among five people found shot on the footpath along the FDR Highway, just under the Madison Avenue Bridge around 12:30 a.m. NYPD Chief Brian McGee, commanding officer of Detective Borough Manhattan North, said gunfire erupted in the area of East 139th St and 5th Avenue where a large group had gathered.
All five victims were taken to the hospital by EMS, while another 4 victims were taken to the hospital by other means. The victims included seven men and two women.
One of the men, 21-year-old Darius Lee, was taken to Lincoln Hospital, where he was pronounced dead. He attended Houston Baptist University in Texas where he played guard and forward after playing ball for St. Raymond High School for Boys in the Bronx.
"For a kid to be home from college, wake up, workout, spend time with family and friends and have this happen to him, it's beyond a tragedy," Williams said.
Among the other victims, some were struck in the torso, while others were braised in the leg or back. The eight other victims are expected to survive.
McGee said police are looking into whether the gunshot victims were at a gathering or a barbecue of some sort when the gunfire erupted.
A handgun was recovered by police at the scene, and investigators are looking into whether there may have been multiple firearms used in the shooting.
Police have not said whether they believe there was one gunman or potentially multiple. No suspect descriptions have been released.
It was not known what led up to the gunfire.
NYPD Commissioner Keechant Sewell said that officers need help from the public to reduce crime.
"The emboldened individuals responsible for this are exactly who our officers are battling every day to make our city safe. And we are making some headway against violence, we have a lot of work to do, but we need help alongside the entire criminal justice system," Sewell said at a press conference after the shooting.
An investigation is ongoing. Anyone with information is urged to contact the NYPD's Crime Stoppers Hotline at 1-800-577-TIPS (8477) or for Spanish, 1-888-57-PISTA (74782).