Preston Gamble, 15, was shot and killed in a dispute between two groups of teens in Calverton Wednesday, NewsdayTV's Cecilia Dowd reports. Credit: Jim Staubitser

Police were searching Thursday for the person who shot and killed a 15-year-old Riverhead High School student in a Calverton housing complex Wednesday afternoon.

Preston Gamble was shot by a male during a fight between two groups of teens and young adults on Hill Circle at the Calverton Hills apartment complex just before 4 p.m., police said.

“It started as a fist fight and shots were fired and a 15-year-old boy was shot and killed,” Suffolk County Det. Lt. Kevin Beyrer said late Wednesday.

His family rushed him to Peconic Bay Medical Center, where he died from a gunshot wound. Police have made no arrests in his killing.

Neighbors in Calverton remembered him Thursday as a lovable, respectful boy who ran around shirtless in the summer.

Paula Hofsiss, who lived next door to Gamble, said she considered him to be one of her grandchildren. He would run in and out of her apartment as a child and had planned to go to her granddaughter’s Sweet 16 party. She said he was one of four children in his family.

“Preston’s a good kid, always respectable and in sports. He was protective and outgoing. It’s a waste of life,” she said. “He was a great, lovable kid, just starting his life.”

Shannon Hammonds said she knew Gamble for 10 years and he was friends with her 14-year-old daughter, adding that she was thinking of his mother and said it was impossible to fathom the loss of a child.

“He was a great person with a big heart — fun, outgoing and respectful,” Hammonds said Thursday morning. “It’s still hard. When the time comes, it’s going to hit more. I’m going to expect to see him around and he’s not going to be here.”

Other neighbors said the apartment complex had been the site of past violence and shootings.

Monique Anderson said she heard the gunshots, but didn’t realize what happened until she heard sirens. “I didn’t know what it was at first, and I heard 'pop, pop, pop,' ” Anderson said. “It was scary because I have kids. I don’t normally let my kids outside because it’s a little wild here.”

Rah Anderson said he was at work when the shooting occurred and got a call asking if he was OK. “It’s not the first time something happened here. I feel like we need some gun control. It’s getting out of hand,” he said. “There’s been one too many shootings. There are kids around and people make dumb decisions and I think it’s evidence of how easy it is for kids to lose their lives.”

Riverhead School District Superintendent Augustine E. Tornatore issued a statement to the school community Wednesday night.

“It is with deepest sorrow that we inform you this evening that a Riverhead high school student was a victim of an act of violence that occurred in our community,” the open letter read, adding that counselors would be available throughout the district to counsel students, faculty and staff.

With Cecilia Dowd

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