Two weeks after a Brooklyn dad celebrated his 30th birthday, devastated family members were left to mourn his violent death.
Stephen McBean, 30, was gunned down on the street this past Saturday night in a drive-by shooting, with the killer spraying bullets at the father of two and a second man. McBean’s cousin believes the shooter was among those who joined the victim at a Jan. 8 birthday dinner followed by a night of bowling.
“The guy who killed him sat and celebrated,” said Jahaira Springer, adding that friends and neighbors had told her as much.
“People were outside,” she said. “It’s not like it happened in an abandoned alleyway. People were there. [The police] said that they’ve heard names, too, and they’re investigating.”
Family members said McBean emerged from prison in September 2020 to embrace a different lifestyle, and he was engaged to his longtime girlfriend and mother to their 8-year-old daughter, Milan. He was also father to a 10-year-old son, Joshua.
“Just stepping up and starting to realize what life was about,” Springer said of McBean. “He didn’t have any violations of parole, no arrests. He was really staying in the house.”
McBean was walking about a half mile from home with another man when the bullets were fired from a black sedan that fled the scene, police said. He was pronounced dead at Mount Sinai Brooklyn hospital, while the second victim survived after taking a bullet to the right shoulder, police said.
“He was just a loving person,” said his fiancée, Antonia Forde, who met McBean nearly a decade ago at a Memorial Day gathering.
“Everyone has their sides to them, but he was a loving person,” she added. “He would do anything for me. Same for his kids.”
Police are yet to make an arrest in the slaying on E. 46th St. near Avenue K in Flatlands.
Local residents recalled hearing a burst of a half-dozen gunshots, followed by three more shots fired in return. An eyewitness said the back window of the fleeing vehicle was completely shattered.
Cousin Julissa Nared offered fond childhood memories of McBean, a native New Yorker and son of a single Panamanian mother.
“He was always happy,” she recalled. “Fun was his name. Even if he was mad, he kept a smile on his face.”
Family members said McBean, a construction worker who spent two years behind bars, found himself in a bad place after the death of his mom, Julia, from cancer when he was just 15.
“You blink, she’s here; you blink, she’s gone,” said Springer. “That’s a lot to deal with. It was too much for him. He tried and tried. We tried. ... He would listen and then fall back in his ways. He was a good kid, though. He had his goodness about him.”
Forde described the victim as a devoted father to their daughter, recalling a 2017 Mother’s Day when McBean took the family out to a steakhouse.
“I had a conversation with him after he turned 30, and I was just like, ‘He made it to 30 and it is a blessing,’ ” said Forde. “It’s just tragic.”
A second family mourned their loss in a shooting barely an hour after the McBean slaying, with 33-year-old Kadeem Corion killed by a bullet in the Bronx this past Saturday.
Corion’s younger sister said she heard that her brother was shot while breaking up a fight, with three other victims wounded in the unsolved late-night attack.
“We don’t know exactly what happened,” said Kadesha Corion, 31. “People are telling us this. That sounds like him. ... He was just a wonderful person, a kindhearted person. He loved everybody he came in touch with.”
As of last Sunday, 23 people have been murdered citywide, according to the latest NYPD stats, the same as the homicide rate for last year at this time.
The five boroughs have seen 57 shooting incidents in 2023, with 69 people shot. At the same time in 2022, there had already been 66 shootings and 73 victims, data show.
Brooklyn has had 12 murders so far this year, up from four during the corresponding time frame in 2022. The borough’s total number of shooting victims is down about 20%, according to the NYPD.
Homicides in the Bronx are down so far this year, with two murders compared with three at the same time last year. Shooting incidents and victims, however, are slightly up.