Richard Herbert, 27, of Elmont, shot to death April 11, 2010.
Richard Herbert's last words to his mom were "I love you so much."
Marie Herbert said they were uttered less than one hour before her 27-year-old son was shot to death in his Elmont apartment last year.
Herbert, 56, of Rosedale, almost whispered as she recounted how Nassau County police officers came to her home to break the bad news hours later. On that day, April 11, he had come to her home to pick up some cornmeal she had made him and then left to go back to Elmont, she said.
What happened next remains unclear. According to Nassau County police, neighbors called 911 at about 9:20 p.m. and reported hearing gunshots. When police responded to the apartment, police found Herbert's lifeless body. His murder remains unsolved.
Melissa Herbert, 25, Richard Herbert's younger sister, thinks the murder may have been a drug deal gone wrong. Her brother had pleaded guilty to a drug charge in April 2008 and had been sentenced to serve one year in jail, according to court records.
But she said he was trying to turn his life around by taking classes to become a medical assistant and was starting a job on the Monday after he was killed, she said.
His family is convinced people are holding back information about his murder. "If people know, they should say what is what," Melissa Herbert said.
She and her family are desperate for answers. "It eats me up not to know," Herbert said. "I want to face the person who took my son's life . . . I'd like to ask that person why they killed my son."
Bryan Coardes, 25, of Hempstead, shot to death June 12, 2010.
There's almost no doubt that someone saw Bryan Coardes get shot, Nassau County police say. The 25-year-old was killed June 12 at a house party in Lakeview when he and two other men - who survived - were shot amid hundreds of partygoers.
But no one has come forward with information about the shooting and no arrests have been made, said Nassau Homicide Det. Robert Nardo, who is assigned to the case.
It's most likely that Coardes, who family members said was part of the Bloods street gang and had only been out of jail for about four months, was targeted, Nardo said. But without the help of the public, this case will be very difficult to solve, he said.
He was the third of 12 children in a tightly knit family.
"It's robbery that people who have information haven't come forward," said Jonathan Bernard, 28, of Hempstead, Coardes' oldest brother. "I would love to see the person who did the murder be brought to justice."
Coardes' mother, Sonya Coardes, 46, said her son had been trying to leave gang life and had found a job as a deliveryman. "He learned from his mistakes," she said.
For Coardes' family, his death is an example of the difficulties of gang life and the ongoing neighborhood violence that needs to stop.
"They took his life before he even had a chance to live," said Coardes' grandmother, Elethia Gaddist, 64, of Hempstead. "I want all these black young fellows to stop killing each other."
Coardes' family is working to prevent others from suffering his fate. Bernard, inspired by his brother's murder, started a foundation, Put Down The Flags, which aims to rehabilitate and mentor gang members out of street life. His mother has also started a group called Mothers Against Violence, through which she plans to hold rallies to stop neighborhood violence.
"The same spirit that was in my brother, I see in the youth here," Bernard said of his work in Hempstead. "They are looking for somebody to help them."