Tayshana Murphy was targeted?

Updated: September 12, 2011, 10:30 PM ET
By Matt Ehalt | Special to ESPNNewYork.com

Tayshana "Chicken" Murphy, the 18-year-old senior girls basketball player at Murry Bergtraum in Manhattan who was killed this weekend, may have been targeted along with her brothers, a law enforcement source told the New York Daily News.

[+] EnlargeTayshana Murphy
Rob AbruzzeseA makeshift memorial set up to honor Tayshana Murphy.

Earlier reports had said that Murphy might have been the victim of mistaken identity.

"We're looking into the possibility she was involved in (an) earlier assault," the source said in the Daily News.

The source added: "Investigators believe the suspects knew her and were aiming for her. It looks like they were aiming at her and the two people she was with."

Murphy, one of the top girls high school players in the city, was shot in the head by a gunman outside her home in a housing project in Harlem. Police said Monday they were talking to two individuals, who are not suspects, and there have been no arrests made and the investigation was still ongoing.

The Daily News article says video shows that Murphy was standing outside her home with her brothers before the shooting happened, and that the killing stemmed from a feud between people in the Grant Houses and Manhattanville Houses.

Pierre Walton, Murphy's cousin, told the Daily News that Murphy's brother, nicknamed Bam-Bam, played a role in why Murphy was shot.

"It wasn't mistaken identity," Walton told the Daily News. "They shot her because that was her brother. It was no mistake. They knew."

Tanasia Williams, Murphy's sister, told ESPNNewYork.com she was with her sister until about 3:30 a.m. Sunday morning but then went inside. Murphy told Williams that she was going to wait outside for "Bam-Bam." Williams said that Murphy would normally watch out for her younger brother and wait for him late at night.

"She said, 'Take my chain, I'll see you in 10 minutes,'" Williams said.

Murphy was in her second year at Bergtraum after previously attending Bishop Loughlin and St. Michael Academy. She missed her junior season with an ACL tear but was gearing up for a strong year for the Lady Blazers.

The Manhattan-based school had assemblies for Murphy on Monday. According to athletic director Julia Taylor, there were assemblies for every grade on Monday with speakers and guidance counselors available to talk to students.

Some guidance counselors came from other schools to offer their assistance. There were also stations and crisis centers around the school, which offered students the chance to express their feelings. New York City schools chancellor Dennis M. Walcott also showed up to lend his support to the grieving community.

"This is a terrible tragedy -- it's a tragedy any time we lose a young person -- but to have a student shot in the head like this is totally despicable and we shouldn't stand for it," Walcott said in a statement. "The violence against our children has to stop."

Each grade met in different sections of the school. Taylor said she told some stories about Murphy, trying to use humor to bring some smiles to the distraught students.

"A lot of students were crying, she was really well-liked in the building," Taylor said. "She was loved by everyone in this community and earned a lot of respect."

Bergtraum coach Ed Grezinsky said it was beneficial for his players to be able to gather and express their feelings and be able to console one another. The students told stories to each other, such as funny stories and also discussed ways that they can pay respect to her during the season.

Grezinsky said the team talked about possibly naming their Christmas time basketball tournament after Murphy, giving out an award with her name attached or wearing something on their uniform in Murphy's memory.

"They were all emotional and it was the first time they all got together since it happened and it was hard but I guess it was therapeutic," Grezinsky said. "They got out all their feelings and their stories. They realized that sometimes when everybody is in mourning, when you have numbers, it's not as hard as when you're by yourself."

At Murphy's home in the Grant Houses on Broadway, friends and neighbors all spoke highly of her. Many people in the area described her as a nice person who was fixated on her dream of making it to the next level in basketball.

"She was a good person. She was well-known around here," said friend Christina Matos. "She was very caring, a sweet, loving person who always had a smile."

She added: "She had real potential, she was looking forward to her future. She talked about going to college and getting her family out of here because this type of stuff happens all the time around here."

Several others said Murphy wasn't a troublemaker.

"Guns are just too easy to get these days. We love Chicken, but it's these kids. They have easy access to guns and nothing better to do," said neighbor and family friend Moises Torres. "Her mother is so nice. This is such a tragedy that I can't even look her in the face right now."

Matt Ehalt is a regular contributor to ESPNNewYork.com. Information from ESPNNewYork.com contributor Rob Abruzzese was used in this report.

Matt Ehalt

ESPN New York contributor

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