The girls huddled together, crying in one another’s arms at the candlelight vigil for Khaseen Morris on Tuesday night in front of the China King and A Day Cleaners on Brower Avenue, near Oceanside High School.
It was one of two vigils held to honor Morris's short life. The second was on Wednesday night.
The girls — East Rockaway natives Leslie Madero and Sophia Emmolo — said they had just seen Morris last Friday, when the group of friends went to the Stars and Stripes Festival in East Rockaway. Madero and Emmolo both said they were shocked when they heard that he had been killed, stabbed to death in a brawl on Monday. According to the girls, Morris hadn’t mentioned to his friends that he was having any disputes with anyone.
“It was crazy that after one conversation, I wanted to get to know him better,” Madero said. “He had a loud and energetic personality that just lit up a room when he walked in.”
Morris had transferred from Freeport High School to Oceanside High this school year, but according to OHS students at the vigil, in just the first two weeks of the new school year, they got acquainted with a vibrant and happy kid.
Nearly 50 OHS students, and others from Freeport High and other South Shore high schools, laid candles, rosaries and mementos dedicated to Morris. A man who identified himself only with his title and last name, Rabbi Ackerman, joined the crowd and offered a prayer of condolence.
“Death leaves a heartache no one can heal,” Ackerman said. “Love is leaves a memory no one can steal . . . Love was Khaseen.”
Ackerman extended his support to the distraught teenagers and families. Following his prayer, members of the community shared memories of Morris or words of comfort.
“I’m getting chills just standing up here talking about this,” Justin De La Rosa, an Oceanside native, said. “We all grew up here, and nobody thought this was going to happen. My condolences to his family — rest easy, Khaseen.”
Among the crowd were two of Morris’s best friends, Tristin Chalmers and Michael Quezada, who were too distraught to comment to the Herald.