Devastated NYC families mourn Alfa Barrie, Garrett Warren after bodies found in East River
The heartbroken family of a Bronx youngster, one of two boys believed to have accidentally drowned in the East River, hopes to travel to Africa to mourn his death, according to friends raising money for their trip.
Alfa Barrie, 11, and his friend Garrett Warren, 13, vanished on May 12. Alfa’s body was pulled from the Hudson River early Saturday morning, and Garrett was found lifeless in the Harlem River on Thursday.
The city medical examiner’s office confirmed Sunday that Garrett died of accidental drowning. Police did not immediately confirm the identity of the second body recovered from the river.
A woman who identified herself as Garrett’s grandmother asked people to keep her and Alfa’s families in their prayers.
“Garrett & his friend Alfa didn’t deserve what happened to them, nobody deserves a tragedy like this especially for kids” she wrote in all-caps on Facebook over the weekend. “The truth will come out.
“There’s no words that can express my emotions and feelings,” she added.
The duo was last seen climbing through a hole in a fence along the East River.
A fund-raising effort led by a group called Guineans Succeeding in America was underway to help Alfa’s family with the costs of his funeral and a trip to Africa.
“The mother is extremely devastated and will need significant support from us,” the group wrote on a GoFundMe page. The boy’s older brother Ibrahim was vice chairman of the group, it said.
“Additionally, the family may be facing financial burdens related to arranging Alfa’s funeral and covering expenses for the family’s trip to Africa to mourn his passing,” the GoFundMe plea said.
While a funeral was not yet scheduled, a condolence service was planned at the Futa Islamic Center in the Bronx on Monday nigth.
Alfa lived on E. 167th St. in the Bronx and was a sixth-grader at Democracy Prep Harlem Middle School, a charter school on W. 133rd St.
Garrett went to NEST+M, a highly competitive school on the Lower East Side.
He was a smart, hardworking student whose favorite subject was science, according to a woman visiting a makeshift memorial in front of his building Sunday. She only wanted to be identified as someone who knew him through his school.
“He was an amazing boy. He loved football and science and Jolly Ranchers and Monopoly,” she said through tears.
She brought candles to his flower-filled memorial on W. 143rd St., along with a Monopoly card game. She said she wanted to bring the whole board game but couldn’t find one at the store where she shopped.
“He was so funny and goofy,” she added. “He had big dreams.”
An elderly neighbor said he last saw Garrett last week when the young teen forgot his keys and rang his doorbell to get inside the building.
“All I can tell you is he was a good kid,” said the neighbor, who added that he encouraged the boy to play outside.
“He’d ring the bell now and then and I always told him, you know, ‘Are you playing ball?’” he said. “I was telling him, ‘You need to play some ball.’”
On the day they disappeared, Alfa and Garrett bought food from a Harlem fish shop and headed with a group of other boys toward the East River, police said.
Alfa, Garrett and a third boy were spotted on video slipping through a hole in a fence along the river, according to a source with knowledge of the case.
A police investigation was underway to determine what happened to the boys.