FOR BREAKING NEWS VISIT WWW.QNS.COM NOVEMBER 7, 2019 • THE QUEENS COURIER 27
Photos by Todd Maisel
The casket containing Aamir Griffi n is taken from the church. Aamir’s sister Armani Griffi n, in red hair, walks behind the coffi n.
‘He always had respect for everyone’
Community gathers to mourn Aamir Griffi n at emotional funeral
BY TODD MAISEL
Aamir Griffi n, 14, was the ninth student
that Ron Naclerio lost to gun violence in
Queens. While some of them were tough
guys on the street, the 40-year basketball
coach at Cardozo High School in Bayside
said Griffi n was diff erent.
“His exuberance rubbed a fountain of
youth into me,” he said.
Th is was a familiar theme among educators,
students and family members gathered
on Monday at the Greater Allen
AME Cathedral for Griffi n’s funeral. More
than 1,000 people jammed into the venerable
church to remember the teenager
who was shot to death on Oct. 26 at a
basketball court in Baisley Park Houses
where he lived.
Griffi n’s family said all he wanted to do
aft er school was go to the basketball court
across from his home and scrimmage with
his friends. He wanted to make the junior
varsity team at Cardozo High School, where
he started as a freshman in September, and
made a bee-line for Coach Naclerio in June,
saying he was ready to play.
Th e coach was ready to take him on,
having a soft spot for the youngster who
was already 6 feet tall and had previously
graduated from I.S. 8, where Coach
Naclerio fi rst worked doing intervention
with young students.
Naclerio delivered a powerful eulogy
to an emotional crowd, at times breaking
down as he stared into the eyes of Griffi n’s
mother, Shanequa, and his father, Warnell
Wells, whom Naclerio had coached at
Bayside back in 1999.
“He had that Magic Johnson smile
and he always had respect for everyone,”
Naclerio said as he stood next to the coffi
“He was inconceivably young and there
will be no more games this season for
Aamir, no varsity, no college degree and
no chance to play in the NBA which was
his dream,” Naclerio sighed. “I don’t have
words to heal this broken family, broken
by violence. Reality is very cruel.”
His aunt, Akiba Griffi n, was also passionate
in speaking about Griffi n, saying
“his only dream was to someday wear an
School Safety Offi cers Sabrina Jeff erson and Sheila Martin paid their respects at the funeral.
“Instead, he got a bullet to the neck,”
“So many of you are standing with the
family and what we need to do is to prevent
more situations that has happened to
Aamir,” she added. “We have to provide
more places for kids to play such as PAL,
aft er school programs, where kids can feel
safe and feel welcome.”
Among those attending the funeral
were state Attorney General Letitia James,
Assemblyman Walter Mosely and Queens
Borough President Melinda Katz.
Katz entered the church, and got down
on her knees in front of the parents. She
clasped Aamir’s mother’s hands and spoke
to her silently as mourners shuffl ed past
paying their respects to the teen.
“Another young child hit by random
gunfi re and it happens all too oft en here
in Queens County,” Katz said. “I’m going
to work hard every day to reduce gun violence
and prosecute gun traffi ckers, but
also fi nd the infrastructure to support
those who are working to prevent young
people from picking up a gun in the fi rst
place. Th is will take a partnership — we
can do better.”
Among those paying respects were
about a dozen somber school safety offi -
cers, including Sabrina Jeff erson and
Sheila Martin who got to know Griffi n
at I.S. 8.
“He was our student at the I.S. 8 for
three years and we know the whole family,
mom and dad, a typical teenager. He was a
great kid,” Jeff erson said.
Firefi ghter Bob Vadaro fi led past the
coffi n and wiped tears from his eyes.
He said he has worked in the neighborhood,
trying to recruit teens to eventually
become a fi refi ghter.
“I grew up on these streets and I played
ball here and now, there is just too much
sadness,” Vadaro said. “I am here sometimes
trolling for kids to want to be a fi refi
ghter and get them to work. Th is is just
awful to see him there.”
Hundreds of fellow students were also
in attendance and took off from school
for the funeral.
“I cherish the memories of him, and
I’m still trying to cope with this,” said
one 14-year-old fellow student. Another
student said, “we are just trying to process
this. He would just want us all to be
Police from the 113th Precinct were a
large presence at the funeral. Detectives
are still trying to fi nd the two young men
who fi red the shots into the basketball
court that night. So far, all they have is a
murky video and several leads about the
motive for the shooting.
Cops described the fi rst suspect is
described as a male, last seen wearing a
red hooded sweater and a dark colored
jacket. Th e second male perpetrator is
described wearing dark colored clothing.
Anyone with information in regard to
this incident is asked to call the NYPD’s
Crime Stoppers Hotline at 1-800-577-
TIPS (8477). Th e public can also submit
their tips by logging onto the
CrimeStoppers website at WWW.
NYPDCRIMESTOPPERS.COM or on
Twitter @NYPDTips. All calls are strictly