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Hempstead man shot dead was on way to get daughter, friend says

Raphael Cepeda of Hempstead in an undated photo.

Raphael Cepeda of Hempstead in an undated photo. Credit: Provided by Imani Mazyck

The longtime girlfriend of the Hempstead man killed Christmas night said he was on his way to pick up his daughter when the shots that took his life rang out.

Imani Mazyck, 22, said her boyfriend, Raphael Cepeda, 35, had already wrapped a new tablet, perfume, body spray and nail polish for his 11-year-old daughter and placed the gifts under the tree at their home on Terrace Avenue on Monday.

Mazyck said Cepeda was on his way to pick up his daughter from the Long Island Rail Road station just a few blocks away when shots were fired on Terrace Avenue.

“It’s the worst Christmas gift anyone could ever have,” Mazyck said. She is still coming to terms with the shooting death, she said. “People are telling me I’m going through shock. Little things will make me think of him and a tear or two will drop.”

The man was shot “numerous times,” Nassau County police said in a news release on Monday night. He was found on Terrace Avenue after the village’s ShotSpotter shot location and detection service alerted cops at 6:21 p.m., a police spokesman said. The victim was taken to a hospital and pronounced dead at 7:24 p.m., police said.

Mazyck said she had no idea the police activity she saw and heard Monday night was for Cepeda. When he didn’t come home, she called him but got no answer. After Cepeda’s daughter called her to say he never arrived at the train station, Mazyck went to the nearby police precinct, where police told her he had been shot, she said.

Mazyck went to Nassau University Medical Center, where Cepeda had been taken, and doctors told her he had died, she said.

“I couldn’t feel anything. I’ve never felt like this a day in my life,” Mazyck said. “He was just a funny, loving guy. Very strong too, but underneath that strength, he was soft and loving.”

Nassau County police have not released details about the shooting.

Meanwhile, the family is preparing for funeral services Friday. Cepeda will be buried in the Dominican Republic, according to his friend Genevra Dommermuth

“He didn’t deserve to die,” Dommermuth said. “He meant everything to everybody that knows him. He has the biggest heart.”

Mazyck said she didn’t know why Cepeda, who did custodial work at Eisenhower Park, was shot.

“Who just walks around with guns on Christmas planning to shoot people?” Mazyck said. “It’s messed up. And on Christmas. His daughter never got a chance to see him.”

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