On July 30, three teenagers allegedly stole a baseball cap off the head of Gerald Sealey, 17, while playing basketball outside of a school in Queens, New York.
Sealy’s cap was a Don C brand lambskin cap with a snakeskin bill, featuring the insignia of the Oakland Raiders football team. It sells for up to $200 on eBay, the New York Daily News reports.
On August 3, Sealy was back shooting hoops at the same courts when he spotted the robbers. He called his father, Gerald Cummings, 38, who came to the basketball court and forcibly took the cap back from one of the boys who was wearing it.
As the father and son were leaving the basketball court, one of the teens fatally shot the father in the head while his son watched.
The Don C caps, made by designer Don Crawley, have been popularized by pop culture stars like Kanye West, Complex reports.
The design of Sealey's hat was inspired by Chicago drug dealers of the 1980s, who wore caps with fake snakeskin on the brim, according to an interview with Crawley by GQ magazine.
Unlike the caps of the 1980s, however, Don C uses real snakeskin.
“I only use the scales from the belly of the python, right up the middle, so it kind of wastes a lot of python,” he says in the interview.
About 500,000 python skins are exported annually from Southeast Asia, according to a report co-authored by the International Trade [Center] and the International Union for Conservation of Nature, Fashionista reports.
The 2012 report continues by describing the conditions at snake slaughterhouses:
The research team observed at one slaughter house [in Vietnam] that the live snakes have their mouths and anus sealed with rubber bands. An air compressor is then used to fill the animal’s alimentary canal with air which has the same effect as filling the animal with water, only the animal is still alive, not having had its head cut off or its brain crushed first. Post inflation, a rubber band was also tied around the heart to cause cardiac arrest.
For many years, the animal rights group PETA has been campaigning against the python trade.