On Saturday, September 5, Wakefield lost a dutiful son, an upright father and an esteemed handyman. Martin Anthony Lewis, 33, was gunned down on E. 229th Street. Although Lewis was not in a gang, family members think a gangster pulled the trigger.
The murder occurred at a backyard barbeque, one of many gatherings hosted by Lewis’ mother. When the barbeque started, most of the attendees were family members and friends. But gangsters joined the gathering and, at around 3:30 a.m., shots rang out.
“We ducked for cover,” said Keisha Cesar-Brown, Lewis’ frightened sister. “We didn’t see who fired the shots. Later, we heard it was two gangs.”
The firestorm ended and Lewis ran to the front of the house; he wanted to be certain no friends or family were hurt, Cesar-Brown said. When Lewis hit the street, he spotted a man running away. “Hey!” Lewis shouted. “What’s going on?” The man turned and shot Lewis; there were no witnesses, Cesar-Brown said.
The 47th Precinct police found Lewis shot in the chest and shoulder. He was transported to Montefiore Medical Center and pronounced dead on arrival at 4:54 a.m.
“I ran to the front [of the house] and saw [Lewis] slumped over,” Cesar-Brown said. “The man who had shot him was gone. The ambulance took 25 minutes to come.”
There have been no arrests and an investigation is ongoing. There had been 13 murders in the 47th Precinct in 2009 as of Sunday, September 6, the same number as in 2008.
“The family is distraught,” said Owen Brown, Lewis’ brother-in-law. “When you choose a certain lifestyle, you almost expect [to be shot]. [Lewis] wasn’t that type of guy.”
Lewis, Cesar-Brown, 29, and a twin sister were born in Jamaica. They left the Caribbean for the Bronx in 1986. Lewis, a carpenter, attended Truman High School. He loved to listen to music – reggae and hip-hop. Lewis also enjoyed cooking pasta and Caribbean food.
“He kept the family together,” Cesar-Brown said. “It was the three women [and Lewis]. He was my mother’s son, her husband and her best friend. He was everything to her and now he’s gone.”
Lewis’ son is 11 years old.
“The spitting image of his father,” Cesar-Brown said. “They played sports together. [Lewis] taught [his son] how to box. He pushed [his son] to do well in school.”
Lewis welcomed her husband to the family, Cesar-Brown said.
“He was hard working and responsible,” said Brown. “He had a generous sprit. He taught me about carpentry. He also taught me to be a man.”
Lewis was a talented plumber and mason. In Wakefield, he was someone you phoned when you had a household problem. Lewis restored his mother’s house.
“He never bought a plate of food without offering me some,” Brown said.
Lewis’ mother has thrown dozens of late night barbeques; she hosted a birthday gathering in August. No one had fired shots before, said Cesar-Brown.