Newburgh school shooting: Neighbors worry about violence after football game gunfire

CITY OF NEWBURGH - Many of Newburgh Free Academy's neighbors were tight-lipped when asked Saturday morning for their reactions to a shooting outside the high school Friday night.

But those who did talk, including some parents, said it was worrying them to have something like that happen so close to their homes.

According to police, the shootings happened in the north parking lot around 9:35 p.m., just after a football game with Warwick High School had ended. Police Chief Anthony Geraci said five shots were fired as people were exiting the game.

A 43-year-old woman was shot in a foot, a 19-year-old woman was shot in a thigh and a 21-year-old man was shot in an ankle. They were taken to Montefiore St. Luke's Cornwall Hospital in Newburgh for treatment, and none of the injuries are believed to be life-threatening.

But that was small comfort to neighbors.

"I wish it wasn't happening so close to home," said Justin Ticehurst, 40, who has lived his whole life within a few hundred yards of NFA. "I have an 8-year-old son. Three or four times a year we seem to have a shooting within 100 yards of my home."

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Shenaya Boykins, who is the mother of a young son, was sitting on her back porch on Richman Avenue and heard the shots, but thought it might be fireworks connected to the game until she heard the sirens of emergency vehicles approaching.

"This is a football game, you have children and families there," Boykins said. "When you shoot a gun there, you don't know who you're going to hit."

Shootings like this are why "many people don't want to go out anymore," Boykins added.

For resident Onix Rivera, 21, who lives across the street from the high school, Friday night's shooting was just another in an ongoing series of crimes he's come to expect in Newburgh during his short life.

"Nothing changes around here," Rivera aid.

But Robert Vargas, who lives on Valley Avenue, said the shooting was uncharacteristic for that neighborhood.

"This was a first for me, and I've lived here for 25 years," said Vargas.

Vargas could not recall a previous shooting on the high school campus, although he concedes there are shootings elsewhere in the city.

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"But that's happening everywhere (in the country), but Newburgh always gets a bad rap," Vargas said.

Despite Friday's shootings, Vargas believes that "Newburgh is changing for the better," and is poised to eventually match the comeback already achieved by Beacon, across the Hudson River.

Friday's shooting was the second in recent days in the city. On Thursday, a man was shot and killed, and a 5-year-old boy riding his bicycle was shot in the leg near Washington Street.

So far, no arrests have been reported in either case.

But most NFA neighbors questioned Saturday said the police generally are doing a good job.

"I think the police in many cases have had their hands tied behind their backs and have been made out to be the bad guys," said Nina Gemma, a Columbus Street resident. "There's no appreciation for how they put their lives on the line every day."

City police have not yet released any specific details about a suspect or suspects in Friday's shootings, including their age.

But on Saturday afternoon, police did say they are looking for two "persons of interest." They released a photo showing two people, one in a dark-colored hooded sweatshirt and one in a light-colored hooded sweatshirt. They asked anyone who might have more information to contact the department's detective division at 845-569-7509. Callers can remain anonymous.

All events scheduled for NFA's main campus, on Fullerton Avenue, were canceled on Saturday. The school also said its Critical Stress Management Team was preparing to help students and families who might need help during this time, and said more information would be posted soon.

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Mike Randall covers breaking news for the Times Herald-Record, the Poughkeepsie Journal and the Journal News/lohud. Reach him at or on Twitter @MikeRandall845

This article originally appeared on Times Herald-Record: Newburgh football game shooting concerns neighbors near school