The circumstances surrounding the shootings in Wyandanch that killed three people and wounded one have perplexed the families of at least two victims.
William Madrey, 25, a father, construction worker and aspiring rap artist, was expecting a second child, said his mother, Althea Davila of Bay Shore.
Davila said Madrey moved to Wyandanch a month ago in an effort to become more independent. Davila said Madrey and his girlfriend, Doris Maita, 25, also of Bay Shore, have a 3-year-old son and were expecting their second child in October.
"He was not a gang member," Davila said. Police said Thursday in a news release that Madrey "is a previously self-admitted gang member."
Madrey, Stephanie Almedina Rivera, 23, of Bay Shore, and Ciara Smith, 23, of Deer Park, were shot to death Wednesday in a 2002 Chevy TrailBlazer parked on Davidson Street in Wyandanch. A fourth, unidentified female passenger was treated at a hospital for nonlife-threatening gunshot wounds.
Back at the scene of the shootings Thursday afternoon, Jose Carrasco, Rivera's cousin, wore a black-and-red T-shirt with a photo of her, "In memory of Stephanie Rivera."
"She was just trying to stay out of the streets and get her life together," Carrasco said. "She's all about her family. She's a very loving person. I know whatever this was about, it has nothing to do with her."Karen Brooks, 42, of Wyandanch, said Rivera was her nephew's first girlfriend. She said she knew Rivera.
"It's just sad. It's sad. People shouldn't have to wake up early in the morning, losing their kids, over some stuff that had nothing to do with them . . . She didn't deserve this. That girl was a baby," Brooks said, her voice cracking to hold back tears.
Smith's relatives could not be reached.
Madrey's girlfriend said Madrey was working as a carpenter and had put his pursuit of a music career on hold to support his family.
The struggling couple had lived in the basement of Maita's parents' Bay Shore home for three years until he moved a few blocks away to live with Davila.
"They were hoping to find something but all the homes were expensive," said Davila, who is not Madrey's biological mother but has raised him since he was an infant.
The reason for the shooting remains a mystery.
A friend who lived on Davidson Street in Wyandanch fixed up the basement to the house so Madrey could live there while he saved money to rent a roomier place for his growing family, Maita said. She said she didn't know why the three were in the borrowed SUV.
She said Madrey had brushes with the law in high school when he hung out with the wrong crowd. "It was a high school thing. Things change once you grow up and have a baby," Maita said, adding that Madrey moved to Wyandanch by himself because "he said that is no place to raise a kid and have a family."
Madrey reached a crossroads in December 2013 when he posted a YouTube video where he expressed his being torn about his pursuit of being a rap artist.
"If this music don't fall through this year, man. I gotta wrap it up. Go back to school or what not. Do whatever. I gotta do for my son, man," he said. "He gotta eat. He gotta be good."
Maita remained in shock as she spoke about Madrey.
"I still don't believe it. My son, he's been really good. He saw his [father's] picture in the news and he wanted to know why he was on there and I couldn't tell him."
With Sarah Armaghan