Hundreds mourn Darryl Adams

Photo by Christina Santucci
By Joe Anuta

The more than 1,000 people who filled up a Rochdale church Monday night were there for two reasons.

The first was to pay their final respects to Darryl Adams, the 18-year-old who was murdered earlier this month in South Jamaica. The second was to take a stand against gun violence, as police added another charge against a member of the group the NYPD contended carried out Adams’ murder.

The day after the funeral, tensions between family members of Adams and police ran high when a group gathered in a neighborhood park and several people, including Adams’ two brothers were arrested and his mother taken to the hospital, according to community activists.

But the night before the community stood united during the service for Adams at New Jerusalem Baptist Church at 122-05 Smith St.

“They took my heart from me,” said Adams’ mother, Shanta Merritt, speaking softly during the funeral.

Merritt could barely talk, and friends and family often broke down while trying to describe the young basketball player who hoped to get a SUNY basketball scholarship.

But Merritt said she was pleasantly surprised at the throngs of people who showed up at the funeral.

“I don’t even know some of you all,” she said with a laugh.

On March 2 at about 12:30 a.m., shots rang out near South Jamaica Houses, or the Forties Projects, and a surveillance camera captured Adams running down the sidewalk and collapsing. Two figures then entered the frame. One of them raised a gun and shot Adams while he was down, according to the tape.

As word spread of Adams’ death, the family began receiving an outpouring of support from all of southeast Queens, according to Merritt.

But police were making connections as well in the aftermath of the shooting after officers first arrested two teenagers at the scene. Cops eventually netted 11 people following Adams’ murder, according to the NYPD, and one of those young men was recently charged with a separate murder that occurred last month, police said.

But news of the arrests were absent from the packed chapel, where many of Adams’ friends and family got one last look at his face before the casket was closed.

Erica Ford, an advocate trying to end violence in southeast Queens, said Adams’ death cannot be forgotten.

“I want every person who is committed to peace in southeast Queens to stand up,” she said as the entire chapel got to their feet.

Ford has made this speech before. She listed several other murder victims who died from gunshots over the years.

But she hoped that this time it would be different.

“This is not an accident that Darryl brought out all of southeast Queens,” she said. “This has to be the one.”

Ford wants to raise $5 million to institute a program called Cease Fire, which would combat gun violence, in all of the public housing projects in the area. She also wants to make a musical tribute to Adams by bringing musicians from different neighborhoods together.

But Ford was also with the family Tuesday, when she said family and friends clashed with police.

An officer at the 103rd Precinct confirmed that an incident took place and that several people were arrested, and Jamaica Hospital Center confirmed that Merritt had been admitted and was in stable condition.

City Councilman Ruben Wills (D-Jamaica) was working to get some of the young men who were arrested released, a community leader said.

Adams’ funeral occurred nearly a week after police raided a Rosedale home and made 11 arrests soon after his murder, authorities said.

One of the teens arrested, Terrance Housner, 20, was also charged with the murder of Cody Khan, who was killed last month.

Immediately after Adams was shot, police arrested 16-year-old Alexander Burgess and 19-year-old Sean Barnhill. They were charged with murder and criminal possession of a weapon, but later they were also charged with attempted murder in connection with other shootings in the area, police said.

And among the 11 arrested in the Rosedale house, 17-year-old Dontaye Goines and 17-year-old Romain Brady were also charged with attempted murder, police said.

Goines and Burgess allegedly shot a man Feb. 25, according to the NYPD, while Brady and Barnhill are accused of a shooting March 1.

Reach reporter Joe Anuta by e-mail at januta@cnglocal.com or by phone at 718-260-4566.

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