Two teens indicted for killing 17-year-old at Urban Dove school in Midwood

urban dove
The scene of the shooting.
Photo by Lloyd Mitchell

Two teenagers could spend life behind bars for allegedly shooting a 17-year-old boy to death outside Urban Dove charter school in Midwood last April, District Attorney Eric Gonzalez announced.

“This is a tragic and shocking case in which the defendants — just 15 and 16 years old — allegedly took the life of a 17-year-old student, brazenly shooting him in the middle of the day outside of a high school,” Gonzalez said in a statement. 

The suspects — 15-year-old Malachi Simms and 16-year-old Quran Smith — allegedly ambushed Devonte Lewis outside the school shortly before 3 pm, shooting him in the stomach, and continuing to fire even after Lewis fell to the ground, prosecutors said. 

First responders rushed to the scene near E. 21st Street and Avenue K, and took Lewis to Kings County Hospital, where doctors pronounced him dead. 

Surveillance video shows the defendants fleeing on foot, and the older suspect allegedly had possession of a pistol that matched the bullet casings from the crime scene when he was arrested on May 19.

Authorities charged both defendants with second-degree murder and two counts of second-degree criminal possession of a weapon. Smith faces between 25 years to life in prison, while Simms faces 15 years to life, because of his age. 

The incident was the latest spark over the school’s controversial arrival in the largely-Orthodox Jewish neighborhood. 

The school teaches mostly students of color that have failed the ninth grade, and are at risk of dropping out — leading many locals to voice concerns about potential crime when the school announced that they had signed a lease to operate out of the East Midwood Jewish Center.

Those concerns led to a series of contentious meetings that sparked a city-wide conversation about racism and religious tensions, as well as an unsuccessful lawsuit to halt the school’s arrival

The day of Lewis’ shooting, local Councilmember Kalman Yeger, a vocal opponent of the school, tweeted about the incident, claiming the center had previously been a beacon of safety until Urban Dove arrived. 

“In 70 years since East Midwood Jewish Center built its school building, no student was ever shot there,” he wrote. “Until today.” 

The school’s director, however, shot back at the accusations that the violent crime was inevitable.   

“Urban Dove has never experienced an event such as this and we send our thoughts and prayers to our student’s family,” Jai Nanda said at the time. 

Both defendants in the shooting were ordered to be held without bail, and will return to court on August 11.