Slain youth becomes fourth family member to fall victim to gun violence

By Rich Bockmann

The mother of a Cambria Heights teenager who was killed in a drive-by shooting in South Jamaica last week said he never recovered from the fatal shooting of his 14-year-old cousin on a city bus last summer.

Khalil Bowlin, 17, was the fourth member of his family to die from gun violence.

Police said Bowlin, 17, was shot Sunday when a blue, two-door car drove by the home on Lakewood Avenue, where he and a friend were hanging out, and a gunman in the passenger seat opened fire.

Bowlin was hit in the chest and was dead by the time he arrived at Jamaica Hospital, police said. His friend, an 18-year-old man, took a bullet in the leg and was taken to the hospital in stable condition.

The teen’s mother, Barbie Bowlin, said her son’s uncle, father and a second cousin have all been gunned down within the last three years, and the violence had a chilling effect on him.

“They killed his father, killed his uncle. Who does he have? No father figure left,” she said outside her Cambria Heights home Monday.

Bowlin said her son’s cousin was D’aja Robinson, the 14-year-old girl who was murdered over the summer when she was hit by a stray bullet while riding a city bus back from a Sweet 16 party in South Jamaica.

Law enforcement officials believe the suspect charged in her killing, Kevin McClinton, was aiming for someone else when he opened fire on the bus, but the NYPD Monday did not make a connection between the deaths of D’aja and Khalil Bowlin.

Barbie Bowlin said her son was devastated by his cousin’s death.

“He went into a shell after D’aja was killed,” she said. “I will never forget that day. He cried like a baby.”

Khalil Bowlin, who had been a student at the Campus Magnet complex, was working to get his GED and planned to enter the U.S. Navy, his mother said.

“My 3-year-old is asking for his brother. What am supposed to tell him? That you are never going to see your brother again?” Barbie Bowlin said.

The most recent bloodshed is the latest blow to a family that has had to grieve before.

Bowlin’s uncle, Colin Bowlin, was a former NYPD officer who was killed in South Jamaica in 2011. Jamaica teenager Devante Seabrook was arrested and charged with his murder, according to the district attorney’s office.

In 2010, Bowlin’s father, Gary Bowlin, was killed when an argument broke out during an after-hours game of dice in the back of his barber shop in Richmond Hill.

Gary Bowlin’s killer, Kereim Richardson, was convicted of second-degree murder late last year.

Barbie Bowlin said her son was deeply affected by the killings and had a message for whoever cut her son’s life short.

“He just had a lot of anger inside of him because of the deaths of his family members. He stayed to himself,” she said. “Just know the person who did this to my son is going to pay. We are not going to rest at all.”

Reach reporter Rich Bockmann by e-mail at rbockmann@cnglocal.com or by phone at 718-260-4574.

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