lence: as one example, he lived around the corner from the home of Yusef Hawkins, the young black man whose death at the hands of an angry white man had tormented New York City in 1989.27
That winter, Khalil was constantly worried by a long simmering feud with Tyrone Sinkler. The two boys were arrested for a robbery in 1990. Khalil got off, but Tyrone had to spend a year in youth detention. Tyrone believed that Khalil had “ratted him out” to the police. His “beef” with Khalil escalated that school year: he threatened Khalil, and, according to Khalil and his family, called his home and threatened his parents, as well. Against this backdrop of chronic tension, two events on February 25th appeared to have been the immediate catalysts for the shooting. The young men had an angry encounter at school during which Tyrone stepped on Khalil’s shoe, and, later that day, according to Khalil, Tyrone fired some shots at him.
Tyrone Sinkler was much bigger than Khalil, and ferocious whereas Khalil was not. Khalil feared for his life, and he feared for the safety of his family. As he explained his situation, “You can put it off, but sooner or later you have to play your cards.” Supplied with a gun by one of his friends, Khalil slipped into the school through a side door.28 He heard that Tyrone and his friend, Ian Moore, were “looking for you,” an East New York euphemism for “search with intent to harm.” Khalil ran into them on the second floor of the school. Fearing that they intended to shoot him, he pulled his gun and shot Tyrone in the head and Ian in the chest. A bystander was quoted in the newspapers as saying, “He was aiming at both, he hit both, he killed both.”29 Like Jason, Khalil fled but was quickly arrested.
An eyewitness, whom we shall call Bill, described the scene to us. As he walked in, he saw Ian and Tyrone with some other guys.30 He remembered going up the staircase and seeing Khalil with his friend Dupree. He greeted them and turned to talk to a young woman, who instantly pointed out, “Ooh, there go Ian and Tyrone, ooh, there go Khalil. They about to get into it.” Bill thought the three were going to scuffle. He thought he heard Ian or Tyrone say, “Yo, whaz up” to Khalil. The next thing he knew, Khalil had pulled a gun out of his jacket. As soon as he saw the gun, Bill grabbed the back of his head, started ducking, and ran to his coach’s office for help. The coach was the first adult on the scene. Seconds later, a security guard arrived to secure the crime scene. “I was hysterical because I was that close,” Bill remembered. Despite the intensity of the moment, he pointed out that he did not dwell on it. There were so many murders; these were in many ways indistinguishable from the others. “Back then,” he explained, “people [murdered each other] over a beef. It just wasn’t nothing.”