They came to the U.S. to find a better future for their sons, only to see one cut down in a gang-related shooting in Queens.
The devastated parents of Youssef Soliman, 15, said they moved to New York from Egypt almost a decade ago, then relocated to the Ocean Bay Apartments in Far Rockaway to save some money.
“Cheap rent,” Nazmy Soliman, 46, said as he clapped his hands in anguish, talking about why his family moved there from Astoria four years ago.
As far as Youssef’s parents knew, his extracurricular activities amounted to playing hoops.
“He played basketball since the fifth, sixth grade, Soliman said. “He played at the community center on 51st St. and took a bus to the one on 47th.”
But investigators believe Youssef was a member of the “School of Shooters” street crew, police sources said.
On Thursday, cops said, Petiri Edmond, 17, and Atekel Donaldson, 19, confronted him on Beach Channel Drive near Beach 47th St., eight blocks from his home, and shot him in the stomach and hand. He died at Long Island Jewish Northwell Children’s Center.
Police arrested both suspects Saturday. They’re awaiting arraignment on murder and other charges.
Youssef’s parents found out about what happened when a teacher at Frederick Douglas Academy VI High School called his father, who works as a driver.
The teacher, looking to spare Soliman stress, said Youssef had been in a car crash. “I drove from Astoria to the hospital. They did CPR,” Soliman said.
Youseff’s parents said their other two sons are staying in Astoria with relatives, for their protection.
A makeshift memorial sits in the lobby of Youssef’s building, adorned with photos, candles, teddy bears and a basketball.
His family has created a Facebook page for his funeral, at St. George Coptic Orthodox Church in Astoria Tuesday, and a GoFundMe.com page has already raised more than $17,000 for his family.
“We came for a good future for our sons. For big dreams,” said his mom, Reda Ebit. “We are heartbroken. I am (a) mother. I am heartbroken.”
Send a Letter to the Editor
CATHERINA GIOINO, ADAM SHRIER, JOHN ANNESE