Volume 18 • Issue 19 | Sep. 30 - Oct 06, 2005

Suspect in Bowery killing still at large

By Lincoln Anderson

Police are still looking for a suspect in the Wed. Sept. 21 shooting that started as an argument over a spilled drink in the Mission nightclub at the Bowery and Rivington St. and ended on the sidewalk across the Bowery from the club at 4:12 a.m. with one man wounded and another man dead.

Police last week did not immediately reveal the name of the victim, later identified as Thomas McKinney, 24, of 190 Forsyth St., who was declared dead at the scene with a bullet wound in the head. Another victim — a homeless man who was sleeping in front of the Common Ground transitional homeless shelter at 220 Bowery — was taken to Bellevue Hospital in stable condition with a bullet wound in his ankle. He was not identified by police. There were no arrests as of Wednesday evening, Sept. 28.

A manager at the club who was working the night of the murder, who requested anonymity, said he believes the killer had not been inside the club, which had closed and put its gate down a few minutes before the shooting. He said he had seen a man in a gray T-shirt on the corner across Rivington St. at the Bowery who kept biking back and forth down Rivington and returning to the corner. He quoted witnesses who said the man biked over and shot the victim. The manager said police took security camera videotapes from the Off Soho Suites Hotel on Rivington St. that may show the bike rider.

As to what may have precipitated the shooting, the manager said “There might have been something between some girls earlier in the night and then they called their friends.” The manager said Mission would no longer offer the Tuesday night party that preceded the fatal shooting. He said the club hosts a lot of private parties, but that this was a little looser with a more relaxed dress code. He said the club would not have hip-hop parties where the patrons wear football jerseys or baseball caps, do-rags or bandanas anymore.

Saturday night Sept. 24, the evening at Mission started out with a well-heeled private party for a gospel singer named Lee. However, two women who live near Mission, who also requested anonymity, said they had been expecting violence.

“I’ve seen people in limos waving guns around,” said one woman. The other woman said the Thursday before the killing there had been a wild fight between three groups on the sidewalk in front of the club that went on for about 10 minutes without the bouncers intervening. She said neighbors finally had to call the police to the scene to get things under control.

McKinney, the 24-year-old victim, worked for Ahmed Sakhara, 35, owner of Burkina hip-hop mix tapes and T-shirts store on E. Houston St. Last Saturday night, Sakhara, who is from Burkina Faso, was wearing a T-shirt with a photo of McKinney and a large “R.I.P.” on it. He had commissioned local graffiti artist Chico to paint a memorial mural of McKinney on the store’s metal roll-down gate.

“Really quiet kid, he doesn’t bother nobody, mind his own business,” Sakhara said of McKinney. McKinney had done jail time for weapons possession but he pestered Sakhara for a job and turned out to be a model employee, Sakhara said.

On Sunday, outside 190 Forsyth St., the public housing development where McKinney lived, a brother and sister from Avenue D stopped to add another candle to the sidewalk memorial of candles, balloons, cognac bottles and a blue stuffed rabbit doll.

Shawn Gomez, 20, said it was true that McKinney kept to himself. “He had friends. But he wasn’t a troublemaker or anything,” he said. Gomez’s sister, wearing a T-Shirt with “Stop Snitching” on it, lit a votive candle and gazed silently at the shrine. She said she’d gone to Junior High School 56, with McKinney. “Just come to pay my respects,” she said. “He was a quiet gentleman.”


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