When teen hoop star Tayshana Murphy was chased and shot dead by gang members in her project in Morningside Heights in September, few knew her death was a double tragedy.
Despite being one of the city’s best high-school basketball players and a likely WNBA draft pick, Murphy had been drawn into a deadly street crew and was killed because of a rivalry with another gang.
Cops now have revealed that Murphy was caught in a troubling new trend: good girls recruited by neighborhood gangs into lives of violence, where carrying weapons and committing crimes is as commonplace as shooting a free throw.
Sister gangs are popping up all over Manhattan, Brooklyn and The Bronx with names such as the Harlem Hiltons, Hood Barbies, Billion Dolla Beauties, Gun Clappin Divas and 2 Gurl Gunnas, police say.
They brawl, flash box cutters, stash guns for male gangbangers and act as ambush bait, luring boy members of rival crews to house parties for revenge beatdowns.
Bronx prosecutors are preparing to try another young woman, Raven Walker, 16, for murder after she allegedly stabbed to death a teenage boy during a gang fight on Gunther Avenue in June 2010.
The mother of the victim, Rashawn Birthright, 17, claimed her son’s death was “part of a gang initiation.”
‘They are in this because of the boys,” says Chuck Berkley, a Harlem youth mentor and community activist who spent 20 years in the NYPD, five of them as an undercover detective assigned to drug and gun investigations.
“I think they’re doing it for the excitement, but they’re just as dangerous as the guys,” he adds. “About 95% of them carry knives. Their favorite is the box cutter. They’ll hold a gun for a male gangbanger, but they generally won’t shoot.”