Cops offer reward for help finding shooter who killed handball player at Crown Heights park

A girl walks past an NYPD wanted poster in Lincoln Terrace park on Aug. 11, advertising a reward for the shooter of a man who was killed by a stray bullet inside the park on Aug. 9.
Photo by Paul Frangipane

The NYPD is now offering up to $10,000 for information related to the broad daylight shooting at Brooklyn’s Lincoln Terrace Park that killed 53-year-old Christopher Ross on Aug. 9.

According to authorities, Ross was playing on the eastern handball court in the Crown Heights park near Buffalo and East New York Avenues at 5:47 pm when two groups of gunmen fired up to nine shots at each other — including one stray bullet that struck the hapless victim in the head, killing him on the scene.

The killing marked the second homicide in Lincoln Terrace Park this summer, after a 27-year-old man was found dead on the park steps with gunshot wounds to the head and chest just before noon on July 7. 

Friends at the scene on Sunday said Ross was just an “innocent bystander.”

“He didn’t get involved in any of the problems around here – he was just an innocent bystander,” a friend, who gave his name only as Peter, said. “You leave your house on a Sunday to go to the park to chill, with children all around, and get shot. My children will be running around here and playing tennis and everything and you are not safe here.”

Days after the shooting, parents at the park’s playground said they’re not avoiding the greenspace — but they are taking extra precautions.

Karamo Samuel, 42, and his daughter, Piper, 6, at Lincoln Terrace Park on Aug. 11.Photo by Paul Frangipane

“I probably won’t be coming by myself but it’s summer and [the kids] keep asking to go outside,” said Shawn, a 36-year-old Crown Heights resident who said she and her two children — ages 1 and 2 — were playing in the playground Sunday afternoon, right across the park from where the shooting occurred.

During the gunfire, Shawn said, some parents fled with their children while others covered them for protection until shots simmered. On Tuesday, she tried to position herself in front of her children as they played at the park.

“It’s sad, very sad,” said 42-year-old Samuel Karamo, who was at the park Tuesday with his 6-year-old daughter, Piper.

A Crown Heights resident of 30 years, Samuel said everyone at the park is on edge since the two shootings — an unfamiliar feeling for residents.

“It was beautiful,” he said of the park. “I don’t know what happened, now everybody’s shooting.”

Ross’ killing comes amid a spike in crime citywide. This year has seen close to 1,000 people shot across the city, according to NYPD data — up 80 percent year-to-date compared to last year.

In the 77th Precinct, where the Lincoln Terrace Park shootouts occurred, shooting incidents are up over 133 percent, according to department data — up from 15 incidents this time last year to 35 year-to-date.

A mural inside the handball courts at Lincoln Terrace Park, where Christopher Ross was shot and killed by a stray bullet on Aug. 9.Photo by Paul Frangipane

Following the uptick in shootings, anti-violence groups like Save Our Streets Bed-Stuy —New York’s first and longest-standing cure violence collective — have gone into overdrive organizing demonstrations and advocating for additional resources they say will help cure gun violence across the five boroughs.

“We look at violence, especially gun violence, as a public health issue and not a criminal issue,” said Tarver, S.O.S.’s associate director of community safety. “We believe that we can stop the spread of violence just like you can stop the spread of a disease, which means vaccinating or taking away the risk factors by changing behaviors and giving people resources.”

In spite of a particularly violent summer, some residents say they still feel safe at their local park.

“These things do happen but it’s not something I expect, especially in a playground,” said a 65-year-old East Flatbush resident who withheld her name. The police, she said, give her a sense of security — a sentiment her adult son echoed.

“It is what it is, I mean it’s not right but you know, I’ve been coming here since March and I haven’t seen anything happen,” the 35-year-old said.

A memorial inside the handball court remembers Ross as “one of a kind” and “a good friend.”

Anyone with information in regards to Ross’ killing is asked to call the NYPD’s Crime Stoppers Hotline at 1-800-577-TIPS (8477) or for Spanish, 1-888-57-PISTA (74782). The public can also submit their tips by logging onto the Crime Stoppers website on Twitter @NYPDTips. All calls are strictly confidential.