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Father, son killed 4 years apart in Hempstead

At left, Andre Chambers, who was killed at

At left, Andre Chambers, who was killed at the club, "The Basement," in Hempstead in March of 2008. At right, the scene of a shooting on Marvin Avenue in Hempstead, which killed Chambers' father, Stanley Cater, four years later. (April 26, 2012) Photo Credit: Handout; Jim Staubitser

For one heartbroken Hempstead family, grief will forever be bound with numbers: four blocks, four years and two men -- father and son -- shot and left for dead in the same drug-plagued neighborhood.

Early Thursday, Stanley Cater of Hempstead, a 46-year-old handyman, lay dying on a village street.

He had been shot in the stomach on Marvin Avenue, four blocks from where his son, Andre Chambers, 23, was killed in March 2008.

"To lose them both is so hard," said Cater's sister, Stacy Purvis, 45. "There's been a lot of tragedy."

The circumstances seem especially cruel to friends and relatives who have no one to blame for the bloodshed.

As of late Saturday night, no arrests had been made in Cater's killing, and his son's murder remains unsolved, Nassau County police said.

Family, friends and former classmates of Cater describe him as a kind but troubled man, who showed promise as a standout youth league football player but later became addicted to crack cocaine and wound up spending time in jail. His criminal record includes convictions for drug possession and burglary, records show.

"Stanley was smart and had so much potential," Purvis said. "He just had an addiction he couldn't kick. The drugs controlled him, but no one should die like that."

Cater's high school girlfriend, Sondra Chambers, who is Andre's mother, is outraged by the killings.

"This senseless violence is leaving a bitter taste in my mouth," she said.

Andre Chambers of Roosevelt was killed March 29, 2008, inside a Linden Place home that doubles as a nightclub.

Forty to 50 people were inside when Chambers was shot in the head about 5 a.m., but none stuck around afterward. Detectives said witnesses were reluctant to come forward, fearing retaliation.

Chambers, a carpenter who left behind a wife and 2-year-old son, had his own troubles with the law. He served time in jail for crimes ranging from driving without a license to drug possession, records show.

"They have this no-snitching rule in that neighborhood, but now two men in the same family have been killed around the corner from each other, and it's time to talk," said Sondra Chambers, who now lives in Georgia.

"Stanley's mother, just as I do, deserve to know who killed our children."

Two people who live on the block told Newsday they saw only the aftermath of Thursday's shooting. Both said they heard a "boom" around 4:30 a.m. -- then looked outside and saw a man lying in the street.

"It sounded like a shotgun," said one witness, who asked not to be identified. "Right after that, a car peeled off."

Police declined to release any details about the killing, citing the ongoing investigation.

Derek Brown, 47, who went to Hempstead High School with Cater and lives in the neighborhood, said the area has long been plagued by gun violence and drug peddling.

In February, one man was killed and another wounded in a shooting at the intersection of Linden Avenue and Linden Place -- just steps from the home where Chambers was killed. In January 2010, another man was fatally shot while walking near the same corner.

Brown described Cater as a gifted athlete who excelled in football as a teenager, playing linebacker and other positions.

"He was gifted," Brown said. "He had a good heart, too. But the drugs took all that potential away."

Cater did maintenance work for his mother, Betty, who owns a number of apartment buildings on Long Island, relatives said.

Cater's aunt, Josie Green, also of Hempstead, said the family is trying to make sense of the latest tragedy.

"The person who killed Stanley took from his family someone they loved very much," said Green, 70. "It has left a deep, deep void in our hearts."

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