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Paterson Police Arrest Suspect In Drive-By Shooting Death Of Teen

PATERSON, N.J. (CBSNewYork) -- The Paterson Police Department has arrested a suspect in connection with a drive-by shooting that claimed the life of a high school basketball star.

The department said investigators arrested 20-year-old Gregory Oliver in connection with the death of Armoni Sexton.

Sexton's parents say they're still trying to process that their teenage son is gone.

"I'm just trying to deal with it, like I don't think it really hit me yet," Lawanda Sexton told CBS2's Diane Macedo.

By all accounts, Sexton was destined for greatness. At 15 years old, he was already a nationally ranked basketball player, and many thought he would one day go pro.

"Everybody from the hood said it: He was going somewhere in life for real," said friend Kyle Jones. "He had a chance to do something with his life."

Search Continues For Gunman In Deadly Paterson Drive-By Shooting

But that life was tragically cut short after a drive-by shooting around 8:30 p.m. Saturday on Rosa Parks Boulevard in the Fourth Ward section of Paterson.

"Another young kid is gone. No answers to why. Everybody's hurt," said relative Pamela Holly, who was just one of many family members and friends who put together a memorial at the scene of the shooting Sunday.

They lit candles in Sexton's honor, wrote messages to him on a sheet and left behind a basketball in tribute to the sport he loved and played so well.

While many suspect the shooting was gang related, those who know Sexton said the only gang he was a part of was the basketball team.

"He was a good kid," said friend Devin Kyle, 15. "He only wanted to play basketball."

His coach said Sexton wasn't just a good player he was a role model

"He had the power to have people follow him," coach Tommie Patterson said. "It's still not real."

"He was definitely a very solid all-around player," said Brandon Jones, who once coached Sexton during a summer basketball camp. "He kind of had this no-nonsense kind of demeanor when he was on the court."

Jones said the teen was dedicated not only to the game, but to his teammates.

"He was a great team player," Jones said. "I would definitely say that he knew exactly when to score and when to pass the ball and assist others as they were scoring."

Sexton's mother said despite her grief, she forgives her son's killer but wants justice done.

The Paterson Charter School of Science and Technology, where Sexton was a student, posted his picture to Twitter along with a statement saying, "On behalf of the PCSST community, we extend our thoughts, prayers and condolences to the Sexton family."

Grief counselors were on hand at the school Monday as students struggle to cope with the loss.

"He's not coming to school today," said Sean Harris said of his son, who is a senior at the school. "That's his good friend, they grew up together."

Many in the community say the loss highlights the need for more youth programs.

"This is what you see -- a liquor store on every corner, somebody selling drugs, somebody gunning each other down over stupid, petty stuff," Holly said.

Three other people were wounded in the shooting. They are expected to survive.

Oliver is facing murder, two counts of attempted murder and weapons possession charges, police said.

The investigation is ongoing. Police urge anyone with information regarding the shooting to call 973-321-1120, 973-523-TIPS or by text at

The shooting is the seventh in Paterson in the past nine days, and the third time in less than a year than a child has been killed by random gunfire.

Last July, 12-year-old Genesis Rincon was shot in the head and killed as she rode on a scooter. Two months later, Nazerah Bugg, 14, was shot and killed as she walked home from playing basketball.

Jones said young people in Paterson have to look over their shoulders.

"You've just got to stay with your eyes open and watch everything around you," he told 1010 WINS' Glenn Schuck. "That's mandatory. But I believe that any place in Paterson. You should always stay on point,"

Police said it's unclear if other shootings in the area are related to Saturday's.

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