'They Videoed His Death': After a Brawl, Teenagers Gawked as a Boy Lay Dying

Sarah Maslin Nir and Arielle Dollinger

A wild after-school brawl erupted Monday outside a Long Island strip mall, and when it was over, a 16-year-old student was gravely wounded with a stab wound to his chest.

But most of the 50 or so teenagers in Oceanside, New York, who either took part in the fight or witnessed it made no attempt to defend him. In fact, some stood by recording the fight and his suffering on their cellphones, the police said.

The victim, Khaseen Morris, died at the hospital.

“Kids stood there and didn’t help Khaseen,” Detective Lt. Stephen Fitzpatrick of the Nassau County Police Department said in a news conference Tuesday. “They videoed his death instead of helping him.”

The fracas started at about 3:30 p.m. Monday and was precipitated by a dispute over a girl, and whom she was dating, according to the detective.

The teenagers were all from around the neighborhood, he said, and had gathered at the strip mall on Brower Avenue, a popular hangout where the confrontation was supposed to occur. Khaseen was aware of the dispute, and that other boys were coming to the strip mall, Fitzpatrick said.

Witnesses at the mall said a car drove up, then a group of boys emerged and rushed Khaseen and his friends. Video footage shows Khaseen collapsing to the ground, as teenagers around him film his fall but do not come to his aid, the police said.

The police arrived at about 4 p.m., after a 911 call. Khaseen was taken to a hospital in critical condition and died of his wounds overnight, according to information provided by the police. One other boy suffered a fractured arm, and others had minor injuries. The girl was not present at the fight, Fitzpatrick said.

On social media, Khaseen, whom friends called “Kha,” is seen in photos posing with friends, smiling, pulling faces, his short cropped dreadlocks worn in a rakish style, one half of his head dyed a rusty red color. He described himself as a devotee of cheese, anime and love.

“Speak the truth even if your voice shakes,” Khaseen wrote.

His family moved to Oceanside this summer from Freeport, a neighboring town on the South Shore of Long Island. There, Khaseen saw the promise of a fresh start at a school where he could fully express himself through fashion and art, said his sister, Kedeemah Morris, 22.

He was a free-spirited skateboarder who wore his dreadlocks colorfully: half orange, half black, Kedeemah Morris said Tuesday, adding that he loved to draw and that he had planned to study photography.

The siblings got the same tattoo, she said, in memory of their favorite musicians, Lil Peep and XXXTentacion, both of whom sported bicolored hair. Kedeemah Morris said she and her brother were so similar that she called him her “twin” despite their six-year age difference.

“He danced, he was very funny,” she said. “He was very sweet.”

On Sunday, she said, a 10th-grade girl asked her brother to walk her home and he obliged. Kedeemah Morris said she believed that the girl had been trying to make her ex-boyfriend jealous.

It appears to have worked.

Before Khaseen left for school Monday, he told his family that he had received a threat from the girl’s ex-boyfriend, Kedeemah Morris said.

“My brother, he shrugged stuff like that off,” she said. “He told the boy he didn’t want his girlfriend, it was nothing like that, he just walked her home. The boy said he didn’t care.”

Kedeemah Morris said she thought that Khaseen’s walking the girl home had prompted the fight. “Him being so nice, that one good deed that he did got him killed,” she said.

The high school Tuesday had grief counselors at the ready to help students cope with the loss.

“This is a terrible loss for Khaseen’s family and friends and a traumatic event for our whole community,” Phyllis S. Harrington, the superintendent of the Oceanside Union Free School District, said in a statement. “The way we are going to get through this is by pulling together.”

The police have identified at least seven boys involved in the fray via the videos circulating online, and are working to determine the identities of several more, Fitzpatrick said. No arrests had been made, and the attack was not linked to any gang activity, the detective added.

He urged witnesses to tell the police what they had seen. “When I have you in handcuffs is not the time” to come forward, he said.

“I don’t know what to make of it, my generation versus this generation,” he continued. “This can’t go on. Your friends are dying while you stand there and video it? That’s egregious.”

This article originally appeared in The New York Times.

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