Future 'was so bright' for shooting victim Ne'Ondre Harbour
By all accounts, Ne'Ondre Harbour of Garfield was a good kid, a 16-year-old student-athlete whose future seemed upward bound until fate placed him in the path of a bullet Sunday night not far from his home.
Ne'Ondre was with a group of people outside 408 N. Aiken Ave. when a gunman walked up at 8:19 p.m. and opened fire into the house where six people reside. The shooting was connected to an earlier neighborhood dispute of some sort that involved two females from homes on North Aiken, Pittsburgh police Cmdr. Thomas Stangrecki said.
Ne'Ondre, the only person struck by the hail of bullets, was an innocent victim who had no involvement in the dispute whatsoever, Cmdr. Stangrecki said. The gunman remains at large.
"His only crime was being present at the location when shots rang out. He wasn't doing anything wrong, and tragically he was shot," Cmdr. Stangrecki said.
Wounded in the torso, he fled to Kincaid Street and North Atlantic Avenue, where he collapsed. He was taken to UPMC Presbyterian, where he died.
The incident Sunday is believed to have spurred another shooting in Garfield on Monday shortly before 8 a.m., when a masked man opened fire at Columbo Street and North Aiken. The victim of that shooting, a man shot in the buttocks and thigh, is connected to one of the households involved in Sunday's neighborhood dispute, Cmdr. Stangrecki said.
Ne'Ondre's death was as senseless as it was shocking, said those who knew and loved the youngest of six children who lived blocks from the site of the shooting.
"He was a great kid," said his mother, Denise Harbour. "He wasn't in the streets. He went to school, came home, did his homework. He did all the kinds of things you're supposed to do. His future was so bright. It was taken away from him for something he had nothing to do with."
His father, Reginald Harbour, a dialysis patient, was so grief-stricken that he had to be rushed to the hospital after experiencing heart palpitations and was admitted for observation, said Mrs. Harbour, a bus driver for city schools.
She said a recent spate of shootings in the East End had been worrisome "but we never thought it would be him [as a victim]. He was such a good kid. We had no reason to worry about him -- at least we thought we didn't have any reason to worry."
School staff at Pittsburgh Obama, where Ne'Ondre was an 11th-grader, described him as a "gentle giant" who was a "warm, caring young man with a great sense of humor." Student Assistance Program providers as well as additional grief counselors were dispatched to the school to assist students and staff in dealing with the tragedy.
Ne'Ondre was a standout offensive tackle and defensive tackle on the USO football team -- the merged team of students from Pittsburgh Milliones (University Prep), Pittsburgh Obama and Pittsburgh Science and Technology Academy. And he was also a member of Pittsburgh Obama's wrestling and track teams.
Ne'Ondre was a starter on last year's USO football team that won the City League championship.
"I believe the kid had Division I college ability," said LaRoi Johnson, USO's offensive coordinator. "You couldn't block him on defense. Teams had to send two people at him."
He also won a City League wrestling title in the 285-pound division as a sophomore and finished second in the shot put at the City League track and field championships.
"He just had everything you would want, even beyond the field," Mr. Johnson said. "He had good grades, too. He was the best kid, one of my favorites that I have ever coached. The only answer he ever had to anything was 'Yes, sir' and 'No, sir.' "
USO coaches had a team meeting with players after school Monday.
"This is all just very hard to understand because we lost somebody so young who had a lot of things going for him," senior receiver-linebacker Myles Catlin said. "There's anger with us, but there is also some celebration. We have to celebrate him as a person. All the good times we had."
First Published October 16, 2012 12:00 am