By day, Lloyd Morgan spends much of his time lending protection to those spread all across his New York City hometown. In other times, tragically it seems danger and heartache just won’t let him be.
For the second time in a little more than five years, Morgan, who works as a private city security guard, will be forced to bury his second child under the age of five to die at the hands of violence.
Four-year Lloyd Morgan Jr. was shot and killed by a stray bullet late Sunday just steps away from his Bronx area home as he stood watch at a neighborhood playground basketball game alongside his father and a crowd of more than a hundred others.
Police have since charged 17-year-old Rondell Pinkerton, known throughout the neighborhood as “Spider,” with murder and criminal possession of a weapon after he admitted to firing the fatal shots, contending he did so in self-defense after himself being attacked.
Also hit with weapons possession charges in connection with the senseless crime is 26-year-old Courtney Kelly, struck in the leg during the brazen, gun-wielding debacle. Another 21-year-old man was also struck during the late evening melee and is now listed in stable condition.
"This is my second child that's been taken away from me," wailed Lloyd Morgan Sr. of the boy alternately and affectionately known by family members and friends as “LeBron” or “Obama.” “It’s just too much.”
Back in 2006, in an episode which came to be known as the “Baby M case,” Morgan’s then girlfriend, Shelly Courcelle, was charged with and convicted of manslaughter after the body of a newborn infant they were to be the parents of was found stuffed in a closet in Brooklyn, according to the New York Post.
The medical examiner ultimately ruled the female infant died from pressure applied to her windpipe and in 2007 Courcelle was sentenced to three to nine years in prison. Authorities, on the other hand, never doubted Morgan’s story that he never even knew his heavyset girlfriend was expecting.
All that prior heartache became multiplied a few thousand times over late Sunday when gunfire erupted outside the Forest Homes and an unsuspecting Lloyd Jr. was struck in the head.
“He died watching what he loved,” said Shane Morgan, the boy’s uncle. “He was happy, I never saw him without that basketball in his hand.”
Late Monday, a rally and vigil was held at the playground, with grief-stricken family members and neighbors alike offering still more tearful testimonials.
“He wanted to be a basketball player someday and I just feel like, he probably could’ve been the next player,” reflected cousin Shaniqua Williams. “But somebody shot him and he will never get that chance.”
“You changed my whole life in an instant,” moaned Shianne Norman, his inconsolable mom. “I don’t know how I’m supposed to go on. You destroyed me.”
Neighbors told police they believe the shooting may stem from an ongoing dispute between gang members from Forest and the nearby McKinley Houses. Investigators confirm they have recovered shell casings from at least three different caliber handguns, a .25, .45 and .380.
Authorities added that Sunday’s hoops tournament and barbecue was part of a memorial outing organized to honor Troynisha Harris, Kelly’s 18-year-old sister who was stabbed to death just last year on a nearby street corner.
Arrest records reveal that Pinkerton has previously been charged with drug possession and Kelly has a history of at least five collars, two of which are sealed and at least one of them of a violent nature. Police added they are questioning at least several other people in possible connection with the tragedy.
Early this week, Morgan Sr. reminisced about all the times his filled with life and energy son would greet him at the front door as he returned home from a draining shift, immensely rejuvenating both his body and spirit all in mere minutes.
“He was there… bouncing the ball,” said Morgan Sr. “That’s all he wanted to do.”
NYC Mayor Michael Bloomberg has highlighted the tragic occasion as yet another example of why his ongoing gun control crusade needs to continue.
“Now is the time to talk about keeping guns out of the hands of dangerous people,” Bloomberg wrote this week in a New York Daily News editorial he penned earlier this week. “Every day, 34 Americans are murdered with guns. That’s 12,000 innocent people killed each year with guns, many of them possessed illegally… as the families and loved ones of innocent people who have been murdered with guns will tell you: Now is the time to act.”
A $12,000 reward was offered for information leading to an arrest in the Morgan Jr. shooting, but it’s unclear if anyone rates as eligible for it as the police investigation continues.
Glenn Minnis is a NYC-based sports and culture writer. Follow him on Twitter at @glennnyc.