A spray of gunfire shattered a gathering at a Brentwood home of school friends, some as young as 12, leaving a ninth-grader dead and his family in shock.

Christopher Hamilton, 15, a Brentwood Freshman Center student who went by the nickname Brisko, was among more than 30 kids gathered about 10 p.m. Friday at the house of a lifelong friend who lived just a block from Hamilton's home.

Suffolk police said more than 30 kids were at the split-level house on American Boulevard as Hamilton stood outside with half a dozen others kids. Several shots were fired from a lawn across the street, sending the group scattering, police said.

Hamilton was shot in the temple and fell to the front lawn. He was taken by ambulance to Southside Hospital in Bay Shore, where he was pronounced dead early yesterday morning.

Hamilton's aunt, Tenicia Boynton, said she was at her nearby home Friday night when someone began banging on her door and yelling about a shooting. "I was there before the cops got here," she said outside the home where Hamilton was a frequent visitor. The homeowner said he was taking care of his family and was not prepared to speak.


Boynton and other family members said they believed gangs were responsible, and that Hamilton was targeted by a group with whom he'd had long-standing tension.

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"I'm not even going to front, it was gangs that did this. They need to be locked up for doing this," she said. "They could have fought him one on one. They didn't have to kill him."

Det. Lt. Jack Fitzpatrick said it was unclear if the shooter or shooters intended to shoot Hamilton or fired randomly at the group. A possible gang connection was being explored, he said. "It's early in the investigation and we're keeping an open mind as to the motive for this," he said.

Saturday, some of Hamilton's large family stood in a circle outside his home, holding photos of him holding his baby sister as homicide detectives canvassed the neighborhood.

"The parents don't know, but the kids know what happened but they're afraid to say it because they're afraid they'll come after them," said Boynton, 32.

Two school friends described Hamilton as a class clown and a cutup. "He was a friend-type person. He was always making people laugh," said one of Hamilton's classmates.