Photo credit: Patrick E. McCarthy | Lynell Wright, 26, of Brentwood, talks about his three best friends who have all died. (Oct. 21, 2010)
Newsday, November 2, 2010
By YAMICHE ALCINDOR
Lynell Wright walks slowly down Brentwood’s Barber Street, his eyes fixed on the white and brick home where he and his three best friends spent much of their free time during childhood. When he closes his eyes, he can still see the four of them running around the block.
But the sweet memories fade quickly when Wright, 26, opens his eyes. His three friends – Arthur “Tugga” Ward, Genis “Pras” Walker, and Alexander “Aaron” Moore – are all dead.
“There were four of us and now there is one of us,” Wright said as he toured his old neighborhood and stood outside Ward’s former childhood home, where they often gathered.
The first to die was Moore, killed in a bar melee four years ago. Then in September, Wright lost his other two best friends when, Suffolk police say, Walker killed Ward and Walker’s former girlfriend in a fit of jealousy, and then turned the gun on himself.
The deaths have left Wright wondering how he could lose three close friends so violently.
“When death touches you close to home like that . . . when you touch a casket with your friend inside and you can see yourself . . . it’s damaging to your mind,” he said.
Here are the stories of the three men:
The vocal one
Alexander Moore was looking to start over. At 22, he had already spent about 2 years in prison for criminal possession of a weapon. “He wanted to do something,” said Jamell Givens, 29, his cousin who shared a room in Brentwood with him for several years. “He just never got to hone his skills. . . . Had he been put in a different place, I think his possibilities were endless.”
Moore stayed in the Brentwood area trying to launch a music career, Wright and relatives said. Sonya Givens, Moore’s mother, said her son was funny and outspoken. Raised by his mother and stepfather, Moore spent much of his time at his grandparents’ home in Brentwood, where he enjoyed music and chess, his cousin said.
The four friends bonded over arcade games. Grand Boulevard was their playground and the friends, who were like brothers, would orchestrate their escapades.
“Whether it was hot or cold, we always had time for each other,” Wright said.
The night Moore was killed outside a Hauppauge nightclub in 2006, prosecutors said he was acting as a peacemaker among a rowdy crowd. But the nightclub owner, believing Moore was going for a gun, shot him. No gun was found on Moore, and the man who shot him pleaded guilty to first-degree manslaughter and was sentenced to 12 years in prison.
Moore was 22 when he died.
Years after Moore’s death, the three friends still missed him so much that Ward named his first son Aaron, now 2, in memory of their late friend.
The troubled one
One of seven children, Genis Walker had a difficult life. He often roamed the streets without supervision or a curfew for most of his youth, friends and family members said.
At 16 he dropped out of high school and, in his early 20s, Walker found his mom dead of liver cirrhosis in their apartment, his sister Aida RamLochan said.
In the months before he died, he shuttled back and forth between his girlfriend Jessica Hernandez’s home in Central Islip and his grandmother’s home in Bay Shore. Walker was unemployed, and spent many days arguing with Hernandez, RamLochan said.
Earlier this year, several people said Walker acted depressed. Walker’s family and police said that Walker had had a bad relationship with Hernandez, 22, and that she had ended the relationship two weeks before the shooting. On Sept. 10, according to police accounts, Walker broke into Hernandez’s home around 2 a.m. and stabbed her to death. Six hours later, he showed up at Ward’s Patchogue home, officials say. Walker was 27 when he took his life, police said.
Wright says he is haunted by their deaths.
“I think about this every single day,” he said in an interview outside his Harlem apartment recently.
The calm one
Arthur Ward, the youngest of six children, was known as a quiet man. He graduated from Brentwood High School and had dreams of being a businessman, his family said.
“He was like a peacemaker,” said his mother, Nadine Ward, adding that he always wanted to find a solution to conflicts.
After he graduated high school, his family said he spent some years trying to figure out what he wanted to do. He was starting to reach his goals in the last months of his life. He spent most days working and playing with his sons, ages 2 and 18 months, his oldest brother, Jermel Kornegay, 37, said. Ward had just opened a car detailing shop in Amityville and was in the midst of buying an expensive car, his family said. Ward was 26 when he died.
Jovan Robinson, the mother of Ward’s youngest son – whom Ward named Genis after his best friend – said she and others noticed Walker becoming jealous of Ward. Now, Robinson said she wants to change her son’s name.
Living for his friends
Wright says he wouldn’t be alive without the help of his friends.
“Growing up, I really didn’t care [about life],” he said. “They were the ones who would say ‘you should care about life.’ ”
He said he is now focused on spending time with his children – daughters aged 4 and 7 and a son, 3. He says he cherishes life now and takes nothing for granted.
“I’ve got to live on for them,” he says of his deceased friends. “If I’m not here, who’s going to tell our story?”