Guns against rocks might seem like an unfair match, but the more primitive weapon won out when two young men killed a teenage boy with a large stone in a Bronx housing project after he allegedly shot at them.
Seventeen-year-old Antonio Lyles reportedly walked over to a group of people standing outside of Edenwald Houses near East 222nd Street and Schiefflin Ave., the biggest housing project in the borough, and opened fire on them using a .32 caliber semi-automatic pistol. The bullets did not appear to hit any of the victims.
After the shots were fired, two men in the group, 18-year-old Stanley Hampton and 20-year-old Ezequiel Pena, chased Lyles into the housing project and began bashing him with a large rock.
The police were called and arrived on the scene at about 3 p.m. to find Lyles with severe head trauma from the beating. He was taken to nearby Jamaica Hospital and continued to receive medical care until he was pronounced dead at 4:18 a.m. Tuesday morning. The exact cause of death has not been officially announced, and an autopsy is scheduled today to determine whether the boy died from the beating as presumed.
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Lyles remained in police custody for the duration of his hospital stay. Reportedly, he was to be charged with assault and criminal possession of a weapon, and police had removed his gun from the crime scene to use as evidence.
Hampton and Pena were arrested hours after the incident at about 1:40 a.m. Tuesday morning, according to police reports. The men were placed into custody to await arraignment, where they were expected to face charges of assault and gang assault. However, these charges were initiated before Lyles died, so it is possible that harsher charges, such as manslaughter or murder, will be added.
Both men reside in the Edenwald Houses project while Lyles lived in Williamsbridge, which is about a mile from the crime scene.
As the case unfolds, it will likely bring up questions of self-defense, and how far crime victims can go to protect themselves before it becomes a matter of retaliation and assault.