Dominion of New York

Social Justice

August 15, 2012

Gunned Down on His Way to Graduate School

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Written by: Kelly Virella

Matt Shaw’s graduation photo.


att Shaw was not a gang-banger. In fact, he was the opposite. The 21-year-old African-American man grew up one of 7 children in East Harlem, and under the guidance of his mother, graduated from LeMoyne College in Syracuse. He was poised to begin his graduate studies in economics at SUNY-Albany in the fall, but he can’t, because he’s dead, The New York Times reports. Someone gunned him down in East Harlem, in the hours just after July 4.

Shaw was standing before the A.K. Houses, at Lexington and 128th, chatting with friends, when another young man opened fire into the crowd. When Shaw ran, the shooter chased Shaw along Lexington until he shot Shaw in the back. The motivation for the killing is mistaken identity, prosecutors said, according to his mother. A suspect is being held without bail in Rikers Island and has pled not guilty to murder and other charges.

The killing was the second one to occur on that block in nearly two years.  In October 2010, stray bullets killed 17-year-old high school student Cheyenne Baez.

Together, the two murders show that gun violence in New York City doesn’t just kill people who sell drugs or are in gangs. What can we do to save lives?

About the Author

Kelly Virella
Kelly Virella lives in an East Harlem walk-up with her husband, her bicycle and her books. She's worked as a journalist for 11 years and started this website during the summer of 2011. She fell in love with New York City during her first visit here as a 16-year-old and finally made good on her promise to move here in April 2010.


Official portrait from his tenure as US Secretary of Housing and Urban Development.