A beloved Riverhead High graduate was killed early Sunday morning when he was shot in the chest as he tried to confront burglars who had broken into his Flanders home, Suffolk County police said.
The shooting occurred shortly after 3 a.m., when an undisclosed number of men broke in through the front of the Priscilla Ave. home, where Demitri Hampton was present along with several other people, according to Lt. Jack Fitzpatrick, commander of the Suffolk County Homicide Squad.
A struggle ensued after Mr. Hampton, 21, attempted to confront the burglars.
“There was a struggle and he was shot during the struggle,” Lt. Fitzpatrick said.
The men quickly fled the scene and Mr. Hampton was pronounced dead a short time later at Peconic Bay Medical Center.
The incident was reported to police through a 911 call saying “armed men had broken into the home and shot a man.”
For hours after the shooting, Priscilla Avenue remained closed off by police tape at the Wood Trail intersection. County Homicide detectives are asking anyone with information to call (631) 852-6392 or anonymously to Crime Stoppers at (800) 220-TIPS. All calls will be kept confidential, police said.
As of 2 p.m. police said they had no updates in the investigation.
Sayra Alvarez, who lives on the second floor of a nearby house, said she heard what sounded like people running in the snow. She then heard a car door slam and a car speed away.
“Then when I saw the cops, I thought something must’ve happened, something’s not right,” she said. “It’s very shocking for us.”
Several of Mr. Hampton’s other neighbors said Sunday morning that they didn’t hear the shots and were surprised to wake up to the crime scene on Priscilla Avenue.
“I went to sleep late, but didn’t hear anything,” said neighbor Alfonso Gonzalez. ”It’s very quiet, this area.”
A 2010 Riverhead High School graduate, Mr. Hampton had worked in Baiting Hollow as a valet at Giorgio’s, according to his Facebook page, which was filled with comments from mourners expressing their disbelief over the loss of their “sweet and funny” friend.
Former classmate Michael Hejmej said Sunday morning that Mr. Hampton was a “great kid.”
“He was quick to make you laugh,” he said. ”Hard working, fun to be around. He never said a bad thing to anyone.”
Another classmate, Marcus Santana, said Mr. Hampton impacted many people’s lives.
“He was a great friend that would keep a smile on your face,” he said.
Neighbors also described Mr. Hampton as someone who liked to laugh and could often be found playing basketball. He played on the Blue Waves basketball team and was a fan of the Miami Heat.
One neighbor, who identified himself as “Hobbs,” said he and Mr. Hampton were on a dance crew together that would “battle” other dance crews.
“I never expected it to happen to him,” he said. “He never did anything to anybody.”
Both a wake and funeral service will be held Saturday morning, according to Brockett Funeral Home in Southampton, which is handling the arrangements.
The services will be held at Galiee First Church of God in Christ on 87 Old Quogue Rd. in Riverhead.
The wake is set for 10 a.m., with a funeral mass at 11 a.m. Burial will follow at Southampton Cemetery.
We will continue to update this story throughout the day as more information and reaction becomes available.