by Anya Chapman and Nadeem Shad
A memorial service was held on Monday for Kester Anthony, a 23-year-old man from Canarsie, Brooklyn, who was shot dead on Easter Sunday afternoon. Like at many memorial services, friends and family came to grieve and light the candles of remembrance. However, a detective on the scene said police suspect that the man who murdered him was also in the crowd.
Friends and family gathered around 6 p.m. on Glenwood Road between Rockaway Parkway and East 98th Street to mourn the death of Anthony, a day after he was shot and killed. A few people had gathered outside Unique Style, a men’s clothing store. Heart-shaped balloons, that read, “I love you,” were tied to a telephone pole outside the store and a box full of lit candles was placed at the foot of the pole.
Slowly, people began to congregate at the scene. Anthony’s mother, Deslyn, 56, and sister Amanda, 32, were among the first people to arrive and by 8 p.m. over 40 people had gathered. Two others brought a poster dedicated to Anthony that referred to him by his nickname “Rich.” It was taped to the pole beside the candles. R&B music played in the background.
“Why? They took him away for nothing, for no reason,” cried Anthony’s mother relentlessly. “He was my only son.”
“People who killed him are cowards. He was a good kid, always happy and smiling,” said Anthony’s sister. She could not hold back her tears.
Standing in near silence for almost two hours, people one by one went up to give their condolences to the Anthony family.
At about 8 ‘o’clock at Rockaway Parkway station, a detective, who preferred to remain anonymous, asked if any journalists who had attended the memorial had any leads on the murder. She said that the police suspected that the murderer was present at the memorial ceremony.
“Murderers usually attend memorial services because they are curious about who is talking to police and reporters,” said the detective. “We think that the suspect lives in the neighborhood.”
The officer also said that the suspect was a gang member with dreadlocks. While speaking she pointed at a dreadlocked man behind her, adding that he had followed her from the station to listen to her conversations with reporters.
No arrests have yet been made, but the NYPD detective mentioned that police were pursuing several promising leads.
Earlier at the memorial, friends who spoke of Anthony described him as an outgoing, caring man who loved his family and was planning to go back to school. Most were hesitant to speak and give their names.
A man who identified himself as “John” revealed that Anthony loved basketball and was a good parent and mentioned that he recently had fathered a newborn son.
For the Anthony family, Easter Sunday will never be the same again. In a sad turn of fate, the day of Christian families rejoicing over Jesus’s resurrection became a day of tragedy for the Anthony family, the day that Deslyn Anthony lost her son, Kester.
Sunshine and the sound of people laughing had filled East 96th Street as people returned from church services. By 9:28 p.m., however, police had responded to a 911 call, a man had been shot a block away from the 69th precinct. CCTV footage showed that four minutes earlier the murderer had approached Anthony from behind and fired twice, said police. A female witness on the scene identified the motionless body and emergency medical services pronounced him dead upon their arrival.
Canarsie Coffee & Deli was the only store open when the shooting occurred.
“I heard the sound of two gunshots, I stayed inside because I thought a tire had blown up,” said a cashier at the deli.
Another friend of Anthony, who refused to give his name, described the situation as “surreal.”
“Just yesterday we were standing here shaking hands,” he said, pointing at the street corner near deli. “He was shot on Easter Sunday. It feels like the devil’s work.”