Brooklyn subway shooting victim remembered as beloved family member and crossing guard

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By Dan Sears

The NYPD was still searching on Tuesday for a man who allegedly shot and killed a Brooklyn resident and beloved school crossing guard on a 3 train in the borough on Sunday night.

Richard Henderson, 45, was fatally shot in the back and shoulder around 8:15 p.m. on Sunday while intervening in an altercation over loud music being played on a train approaching the Franklin Avenue-Medgar Evers College station in Crown Heights, according to police.

Police said Henderson — a father of three, grandfather of two, and a familiar face in the crosswalks near the Avenues the World School in Manhattan’s Chelsea neighborhood — was on his way home after watching an NFL playoff game at a friend’s house in East New York. Police have not announced any suspects or arrests.

On Tuesday, Henderson’s longtime friend Anthony Williams told Gothamist they had boarded the train together at the Pennsylvania Avenue station and were buoyed by the Green Bay Packers’ win. Williams said he was with Henderson when the dispute on the subway turned deadly just a few stops later.

“He just came out of nowhere,” Williams, 53, said of the suspect. “He shot Richie for no reason.”

Williams acknowledged his recollection of the events leading up to Henderson’s killing were a blur, but said he recalled a Hispanic man with a music speaker boarding the train at the Rockaway Avenue stop in Brownsville, along with a man in his early 20s wearing a black leather jacket, blue jeans and Timberland boots.

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According to the NYPD, an argument ensued with a “third party” over the music, though it remains unclear who was arguing with whom.

Williams and police officials said Henderson stepped in to try and break up the fight. That’s when the man in the leather jacket came over and “shot Richie in the backside, at least twice,” Williams said.

“The guy said ‘I could get you, too,’” he recalled. “He almost shot me in the head.”

Williams said he ducked out of the way quickly but Henderson had already been struck and was bleeding heavily.

“I was crying,” Williams added, noting he tried to stanch his friend’s bleeding. “He was talking to me. He was saying he loves me. ‘I got you, I got you, I got you. I love you.’”

Williams said that despite his efforts, the train didn’t stop until Franklin Avenue, where he was able to use his foot to prevent the train’s doors from closing and managed to get the attention of MTA workers who then called the police.

First responders took Henderson to Kings County Hospital Center, where he was pronounced dead, officials said.

Williams said the shooter disappeared from the scene, possibly by exiting the train when the doors had opened at a different stop.

“He’s gotta be out there somewhere,” said Williams, who called the shooter a “madman.”

“We didn’t say nothing. We didn’t bother him,” he said.

As police continued their investigation on Tuesday, Henderson’s family in East Flatbush tried to cope with his killing. His son, Richard Henderson Jr., described him as “a wonderful man, a hardworking man, grandfather, loving father, uncle.”

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“He’d come home every night,” Henderson Jr. recalled, adding the family was still waiting to get Henderson’s property back from police. “So for him to leave out the house one day and not come home is just devastating.”

At Avenues the World School, a private school where Henderson spent a decade helping children and their families cross safely at the intersection of 25th Street and 10th Avenue, the school’s head Judy Fox encouraged parents to share the tragic news with their children in an age-appropriate way.

She said the school would have several resources, including grief counselors, available for students and faculty members trying to process Henderson’s death.

“Everyone who knew Richie knows he came to work each day with a warm smile on his face and a kind word for all he came into contact with,” Fox wrote on Monday in an email to the school community, which was obtained by Gothamist.

According to Fox, Henderson was so dedicated to the school community that he attended its commencement ceremony last June and was delighted to see students he’d helped for so many years graduate.

“Richie’s death will be deeply felt across our entire campus community and our priority is to support students, colleagues and parents alike as we face another loss within our community,” Fox wrote.

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By Tuesday afternoon, an online fundraiser the school community set up for Henderson’s family had raised more than $139,000 to help cover his funeral expenses and support his children and grandchildren.

Henderson’s friend Williams, who was with him when the fatal shooting occurred, said at his home in Brownsville that Sunday night’s events kept replaying in his head. He said he was so distraught over the situation that it had caused him a series of seizures, exacerbating a health issue he’s struggled with for years.

“When I close my eyes, I see Richie, my best friend,” Williams said. “I see him bleeding to death and the train wouldn’t stop.”

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