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Classification: Homicide
Characteristics: Juvenile (15) - School shooting - Revenge
Number of victims: 2
Date of murder: February 26, 1992
Date of arrest: Same day
Date of birth: 1976
Victims profile: Ian Moore, 17, and Tyrone Sinkler, 26 (his classmates)
Method of murder: Shooting
Location: New York City, New York, USA
Status: Sentenced to 6 to 20 years in prison on September 7, 1993

Thomas Jefferson High School, New York City, New York

Wednesday, February 26, 1992

29 months ago (September 1989) a gun was stolen from a Mazda RX-7 sports car parked on a street in Plainsfield, New Jersey.  Today, that gun was used by Khalil Sumpter, 15, to kill two of his classmates.  Police believe that a festering feud over a gold bracelet dating back to Christmas of 1991 and a deep grudge against Khalil by Tyrone Sinkler was where all this began. 

Tyrone and Khalil had mugged a junior high school student in 1990, but only Tyrone was sentenced to probation, which he violated and served time in a juvenile center. 

Today, Khalil shot and killed Tyrone with a shot to his chest and Ian Moore with a shot to his head. Both shots were at point-blank range and occurred on the school's second-floor hallway. 

At the time of the shooting, police were unable to trace the many hands the gun had passed through on its way to Khalil.  Khalil was convicted of manslaughter and is in a state prison. 


Ian Moore, 17

Tyrone Sinkler, 16

Source: New York Times - After 2 Killings, a Plan for More School Security


The Fatal Vortex: Collision of 3 Lives in East New York

By N. R. Kleinfield with Ian Fisher

The New York Times

March 1, 1992

They did familiar teen-age things. Ian Moore liked to coat the neighborhood with his graffiti tag: "E-LO." The "E" stood for Ian and the "LO" for Polo, the brand of shirt he favored. Tyrone Sinkler, called "Dizzy" for his loopy behavior, relished video games. Like other skinny youths, Khalil Sumpter found himself intimidated and worried that he was being branded a punk.

But the familiar often leads to the exceptional in the ruthless surroundings in which they lived in Brooklyn's East New York section, a neighborhood recognizable by the crunching of crack vials beneath one's feet, the plentiful guns packed under youthful jackets, the crumbling housing that stifles hopes of opportunity.

The menace that stalks the neighborhood was underscored last Wednesday when, the police say, Khalil Sumpter, 15 years old, walked up to Tyrone Sinkler, 16, and Ian Moore, 17, and shot them dead in the second-floor hallway of Thomas Jefferson High School.

In the days following, some have portrayed the killings as cold-blooded assassinations akin to the showdown at the O.K. Corral. Others have painted it as a pre-emptive act of self-defense by a terror-stricken youth. What transpired in that pink school corridor may never become fully clear, but there seems little doubt that it was the outgrowth of youthful impulses shaped by a cruel and unforgiving neighborhood. 'A Losing Battle'

To be sure, many East New York residents are hard-working, lead decent lives and hope circumstances somehow will improve. But most lament the chronic slippage. "There are a lot of good people who really care about the neighborhood, but I sense it's a losing battle," said Justine Cullinan, who has lived there since 1974. "It has its beauties, but it's a sad neighborhood."

With the spread of drugs and guns, East New York has deteriorated into one of the most perilous in the city, regularly chalking up one of worst homicide rates. On an average day, the 75th Police Precinct confiscates four weapons, most of them guns. "Growing up in this neighborhood becomes a survival thing," said Jak Menley, 19. "A man has to do what he has to do to survive."

Three weeks ago, residents said, a youth was slain because the assailant didn't like the way the victim was looking at him. A number of teen-agers said they walked the streets shunning eye contact.

So it was not a good sign that Tyrone Sinkler, Ian Moore and Khalil Sumpter disliked one another. For months, friends feared the three were hurtling toward an uncancelable date with violence. Another classmate, Dupre Bolling, a friend of Khalil also seems to have played at least a bit part in what became an escalating feud. In recent days, neighbors said, he has vanished, perhaps out of fear.

Judging from a wide array of interviews, none of the youths qualified as a full-fledged hoodlum, especially in the context of East New York, where teen-agers acquire "rap sheets" about as easily as sore throats and where they quip that guns can be bought as easily as candy bars. Though all three of the principals had arrest records, no offense appeared particularly serious.

"They weren't altar boys," Lieut. Kevin Perham, the head of detectives for the 75th Precinct, said. "And they weren't the worst in the school, either. They were just run-of-the-mill kids."

Yet even the run-of-the-mill live a fragile existence in East New York. So many youths cope with the grim reality of regularly seeing friends killed. Guns Are 'Cronz' And 'Juice' Is Power

Two teen-age girls congregating in a project the other day spoke of how acquaintances refer to their guns as "cronz" or "biscuits" or "burners." One girl giggled as she offered how someone might say, "You got your cronz? I got my cronz."

Teen-agers talk about "juice," meaning power. They rely on friends who will stick up for them in disputes. Friends who back them up are "props."

James and Ethel Sinkler, Tyrone's parents, came to East New York in 1964 from South Carolina, settling into Linden Houses, a collection of brick projects in bad repair. Mr. Sinkler, who had been working outdoors for the state Highway Department, was hunting for indoor factory work. He held several sheet-metal jobs until his employer shut down in November. Mrs. Sinkler supervises food service workers at a home for retarded children.

From early on, Tyrone gravitated to basketball and football. He also loved video games. His father hoped he would become a professional athlete. If not, he urged him to join the Army to escape the violent neighborhood.

Tyrone had recently been dating Angela Burton. As a nightly ritual, he would escort her home. If he had been at her house, she would walk him halfway home. "We did it because it was dangerous," she said. "Someone's always shooting. I always tried to keep Tyrone inside to stay away from trouble. But he wasn't worried. He thought he was tough. He thought danger couldn't touch him."

Linda Moore, Ian's mother, was born in Barbados and came to Brooklyn in 1970, where she married. Eventually, she, too, moved into Linden Houses. She has separated from her husband and has been seeing Phanel Floizio, an Amtrak car inspector.

When he was younger, Ian bagged groceries and had a paper route. He became a punctilious dresser, favoring Polo and Fila shirts. One way he paid for them was by cutting friends' hair for $3. He liked to disassemble cars and imagined becoming an electrician.

He was not trouble-free. In February 1991 he was arrested for assault and in April 1991 for robbery. Apparently neither case was prosecuted.

Khalil Sumpter's family refused to comment on their lives. They reside a few blocks from Linden Houses on a tree-lined strip of neat row houses. Family members said they have received death threats and have been afforded police protection.

Friends said Khalil had got into several fights. Usually, he lost. A woman who lives on his block, who insisted on anonymity, said he "messed around" but was "soft." "The boys were picking at him and picking at him," she said. "They intimidated him."

Four girls, who refused to give their names, said Khalil was known as a "punk" who wanted to prove himself.

All three youths went to junior high together and were friends then. That friendship was fractured in April 1990 when Mr. Sinkler and Mr. Sumpter, along with a classmate named Anthony Barr, tried to rob a student of his lunch money. He had none, so the group took his baseball cap and beat him. The police called it a "kiddie robbery."

Neither Mr. Sumpter or Mr. Barr was prosecuted, but Mr. Sinkler was convicted of assault. He had a prior arrest in June 1989 for pickpocketing. For the new crime, he received probation. After he violated it, he had to serve six months at a juvenile center.

Because Mr. Sumpter went free, Mr. Sinkler apparently felt he had given evidence against him. The police said, however, that he did not incriminate Mr. Sinkler. A year later, Mr. Sumpter was arrested for a street robbery, to which he pleaded guilty and received two years' probation. How the Fates Drew Four Boys Together

Ian Moore and Tyrone Sinkler were inseparable best friends. Khalil Sumpter's best friend probably was Dupre Bolling, who lives near Linden Houses in a project called Fairfield Towers. Dupre, classmates said, was the tougher of the two. They were "props."

Being close friends with Tyrone, Ian harbored chilly feelings toward Khalil and Dupre. Fateful factors conspired to bring them closer together. Around September, Khalil transferred from a graphic arts school to violence-riddled Thomas Jefferson High School, where Dupre went. Ian was also at Jefferson.

Classmates say that shortly before Christmas Ian tried to steal a gold nugget bracelet from Dupre. He was foiled. The next day, Khalil wore the bracelet and flaunted it in front of Ian, as if to rub in his inability to get it.

Since his discharge from jail, Tyrone had attended George Westinghouse High School, a vocational school in downtown Brooklyn. His family said he was harassed there, and was bothered by the fact that a youth was killed on a stairway last November. He wanted to transfer, and his family said the only immediate possibility was Jefferson High. His mother warned him it was a "death trap," but he wanted out of Westinghouse.

In February he began attending classes at Jefferson, bringing him into frequent contact with his nemesis, Khalil Sumpter.

The bracelet skirmish intensified the icy relations. At school, there were sneers and minor scuffles. Friends said Khalil was afraid to confront the burly Tyrone, but he and Dupre were brazen with Ian, especially since he had lost weight from an operation last November to remove a kidney tumor.

In the days leading up to the killings, Khalil told the police, Tyrone threatened him several times. Once, he told them, Tyrone said he was going to slash and kill his mother. On Tuesday, Khalil told the police, Tyrone fired shots at him on Linden Boulevard. But there is no other evidence that either Tyrone or Ian carried guns.

The police said Khalil told them that after that escapade he borrowed a .38-caliber gun. The police said the gun had originally been stolen in 1989 from an off-duty campus police officer at the University of Medicine and Dentistry of New Jersey in Plainfield, N.J.

Last Tuesday, according to friends of Tyrone and Ian, Khalil warned Ian he was "going to get him" the next day.

Khalil's lawyer, John Russell, gave his client's account of the day of the killings:

Not long after 8 A.M., Khalil and Dupre arrived at school and, fearful, ducked in a different entrance than usual. There, Khalil saw a classmate who told him that he had seen Tyrone, Ian and several others near the main entrance that Khalil usually took. The classmate said, "Oh, you're the kid who's going to get jumped."

The three went to the second floor, where they began striding down the hallway. As they came to a bend where the hallway joined with another, they encountered Tyrone, Ian and six or seven others. According to this account, Tyrone reached into his jacket pocket, Ian put his hand under his coat toward his waist and a third classmate reached behind his back. Without a word, the police said, Khalil pulled out his gun and shot and killed Tyrone and Ian.

As he fled the building, he was apprehended by school security guards.

Friends of the victims said they thought Khalil deliberately set out to gun them down. But the police said they didn't think that the murders were planned. They have tried to talk to Dupre Bolling, without success.

In the aftermath of the killings, the Linden Houses have received a dose of neglected housekeeping. The residents believe the influx of journalists has spurred maintenance workers to scrub off graffiti and fix windows. "For years the elevator here has smelled of urine," J. J. Sinkler, Mr. Sinkler's 20-year-old brother, said. "I rode it this morning and it smelled like roses."

Anger and futility remain in the streets of East New York. Residents wonder whether the latest killings will ultimately make any difference.

Ian Moore is to be buried on Tuesday in Brooklyn. That same day, Tyrone Sinkler's body is to be flown to Manning, S.C., to be buried among relatives in the state that his parents said they wish they had never left.


A Year Later, Death's Echoes

By Mary B. W. Tabor - The New York Times

June 24, 1993

More than a year has passed since the February morning when Khalil Sumpter pulled a gun from under his jacket, fatally shot two fellow students and turned Thomas Jefferson High School into a symbol of the ruthless penetration of street violence into the lives of young people and the places once considered safe havens.

Since then, there have been marches for peace, congressional hearings on youth violence, efforts to lobby for gun control and added security measures, like extra guards and metal detectors, installed at New York City's public schools. And Thomas Jefferson, or "Jeff" as the Brooklyn school is known, has made peace with itself.

But for the families of Mr. Sumpter and his two victims, Ian Moore, 17, and Tyrone Sinkler, 16, the aftermath has not been so easy. Mr. Sumpter's mother, Donna, says she cannot walk alone outside for fear she will be killed by the victims' avengers. Linda Moore moved out of the East New York housing project where her son, Ian, had fallen in with a tough crowd. And James Sinkler replays again and again his last encounter with his son in which he gave him 60 cents for the bus to school. Remembering the Violence

Yesterday, the drama and violence of that day was replayed in and around a Brooklyn courtroom as Khalil Sumpter's murder trial began. Family members, students and teachers spoke about the morning of Feb. 26 and the young men's brief, but deadly, encounter.

In opening arguments in State Supreme Court in Brooklyn, prosecutors portrayed the shooting as a cold-blooded murder. Mr. Sumpter killed his fellow students "without fear or hesitation," Ann Gutman, an assistant district attorney, told the jurors.

William M. Kunstler, one of two lawyers for Mr. Sumpter, now 17, countered that the act was one of self-defense and that the two victims had threatened to kill Mr. Sumpter and his mother the day before.

Parents and friends of the three students filled the fourth-floor courtroom as the first witnesses were called to testify. Mr. Sinkler slowly recounted his tale of giving his son, Tyrone, the bus money. Mrs. Moore spoke of identifying her dead son at the hospital. Both a teacher's aide and a 17-year-old student who had witnessed the shooting provided detailed accounts.

Outside the courtroom, relatives of all three young men described the aftermath of the shooting.

"This is very, very difficult," said Khalil Sumpter's father, who is a clerk at a New York law firm. "It's a hurting feeling."

Donna Sumpter, who arrived at the court with Khalil's stepfather, Robert Taylor, said that she had received anonymous threats before the shooting, and that she now feels unsafe leaving their house. Mr. Taylor now walks her to and from the subway station each day. She said that she does not sleep and that she is under medical care for her nerves. "The threat is still there," she said. "They said they would kill him, and they said they would kill me."

Mr. Sumpter, who is being tried as an adult -- in Supreme Court as opposed to Family Court -- has been at Spofford Juvenile Detention Center since the day of the shootings, when he was caught running from the building. If he is found guilty, he can be given a lighter sentence because of his youth at the time of the crime.

In East New York, home to the school and the three young men involved in the hallway shooting, students said that the shootings, though devastating, had served as a catalyst for peace and had forged a kind of unity among other students and teachers there.

"Everything has changed," said Dehala Summers, 17, an 11th grader. "There are hardly any fights in the school now. Everybody got tired of hearing Jeff was a bad school."

Lensley O'Connor, 16, said that a metal-detector system, which was set up in Jefferson and dozens of other city schools after the shooting, had made a big difference. "It is safer than before," he said.

Mr. O'Connor said he had been friends with Darryl Sharpe, a 16-year-old student who was shot at the school in November 1991. After that shooting, Mr. O'Connor said, his parents had asked him to transfer. But he refused. "I realized that could happen anywhere," he said.

Now the students cite improvements not only in security, but also in the school's academic and athletic programs. They also point to a memorial garden that now blossoms adjacent to the school, where an empty lot once stood. Last week, two teachers exchanged wedding vows in the school's auditorium after hundreds of their students requested wedding invitations. Students filled the 1,800-seat auditorium and cheered wildly.

"Morale has improved, security is much better," said Susan Amlung, a spokeswoman for the United Federation of Teachers, "and while the academic performance has not really improved, they are working on that." During the last school year, she said, only three weapons have been found in the school. Two were confiscated by a weapons-screening team at the door. Another was found by a teacher patrolling the halls.

Credit for many of the improvements and the boost in spirits, she and others say, goes to Carol A. Beck, Jefferson's principal, who called assemblies sometimes twice a week, where she often reminded students: "Violence doesn't get you anywhere."

"It was devastating," Mrs. Beck said of the shootings. "I feel that I failed families that wanted their children to be in a safe environment. But I think it helped our young people understand the importance of life." She is retiring this year.

Still, in the neighborhoods where Mr. Sumpter, Mr. Moore and Mr. Sinkler lived, friends and residents said that while violence may have subsided at Thomas Jefferson, it continues in the street. 'Ratting'

On a corner near the two-family house in East New York where Mr. Sumpter lived with his parents, a 22-year-old man said that nothing had changed on streets where gunshots are as common as honking horns. The man, who said he had known Mr. Sumpter growing up, echoed the police's version of the original dispute -- that Mr. Sumpter and Mr. Sinkler had been arrested together in April of 1991 for robbery, and that Mr. Sinkler had accused Mr. Sumpter of "ratting" on him. The dispute had spilled over into school, when both boys transferred to Thomas Jefferson.

"They were fighting a lot," said the man, who spoke on condition that his name not be used. "They thought he snitched. He used to be scared and not come outside."

But another friend had softer words.

"The metal detectors will make a difference in school, but not on the outside," said Gregory Harrison, 19, a friend of Mr. Moore's and a student at Prince George's County Community College in Capitol Heights, Md., who was back in East New York visiting family for the summer.

The shooting and the flood of attention by news media and local officials that followed felt surreal, he said. "It wasn't what it seemed," he said. "Ian and I, we always wanted to do good. Work. Grow up. Whatever. We both wanted that.

"It affected me," he said softly. "I still hurt. But I just got to go on, like everybody else".



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