At 17 years old, Aubrey Abrakasa was too busy to join a gang, his parents say. He was either going to school, working at a park or playing basketball.
But at 3:15 p.m. Monday, Auhust 14, 2006 on a day off from his job at Bernal Heights Park, gang violence came to him.
Abrakasa may have received a text message on his cell phone urging him to come outside his home near a preschool at Grove and Baker streets. He did, and was soon hit by several of 30 rounds fired from an automatic weapon in the normally quiet Northern Panhandle neighborhood where he grew up east of Golden Gate Park.
Police officers, on patrol just a block away at the time of the gunfire, arrived to find Abrakasa shot several times. Paramedics took him to San Francisco General Hospital, where he died five hours later.
Investigators are trying to figure out what might have made the teenager a target, as he had never been arrested before.
The victim’s mother, Paulette Brown, said her son was going to summer school at Mission High and was going to be a senior this fall at Raoul Wallenberg Traditional High School. She said her son was a guard on the high school basketball team and worked at the recreation center two to four hours a day.
“He didn’t have time to be involved in any gang — he didn’t have any idle time,” Brown said. “He was a good kid — everyone says he was never in any trouble, he never went to jail, everybody liked him.” Either she or his father took him to school and to work, the mother added. “We always drove him places. He just started doing things on his own.”
The area known as the Northern Panhandle is a calm neighborhood, she said. “That is why I was never worried. Whoever these people were came here. I never experienced any shooting or trouble over here.”
Thomas Mayfield, director of the city’s Bernal Heights Park, said Abrakasa was supposed to accompany a youth group from the park on a trip on Tuesday to Marine World in Vallejo.
Abrakasa had worked at the park since September of last year, helping coach junior leagues in basketball and baseball, Mayfield said.
“He was getting ready for his senior year,” Mayfield said. “He was an excellent player — he was my assistant coach. He was a real good kid, doing positive things; his mother and father supported him. It’s a tragedy.”
Police are investigating whether the shooting was related to an incident a week before at the Bernal Heights gym where Abrakasa worked.
Mayfield confirmed the incident, but said that Abrakasa’s role was to intervene. “The guys were playing basketball. He broke up a little scuffle in the gym.”
Mayfield said he has worked with youth for years to resolve the city’s violence. “Somebody has to do something about this — I don’t know if people in society are numb to this. Something has to be done to stop more of these senseless shootings.”
Just last week, he said, Abrakasa was gathered with other summer youth program participants and talked about his future.
“I asked them, ‘What are you doing? What is your focus?’ ” Mayfield said, adding that the only answers he ruled out were becoming pro athletes or rap performers. Some wanted to go to college, one wanted to be a gynecologist. Aubrey, he said, wanted to work with kids.
“I want to do what you are doing — working with kids,” Aubrey told Mayfield. “I said, ‘right on.’ It really touched me.”
The Office of the Mayor has authorized up to $250,000 reward for information leading to the arrest and prosecution of the suspects responsible for the murder of Mr. Abrakasa.
CrimePAY$ $250,000 Reward 1-888-755-TIPS (8477)