By Alex Distefano
By Scott Snowden
By Anna Merlan
By Steve Almond
By Jena Ardell
By Jon Campbell
By Alan Scherstuhl
By Tessa Stuart
Murder was also a tool of these young capitalists. In 1988 alone, authorities attributed seven murders to the Raysor crew. Savarese recalls those times as blur: "Bodies were dropping all over the place in Brooklyn."
In one 1988 incident, Chaka told gang member "Wise" to fetch another named "Reason" for a meeting. Each was accusing the other for a shortage at one of the drug spots. Instead, Wise shot and killed Reason. For the murder, Wise, who everyone knew stole the money, received a short suspension before eventually being accepted back into the group.
Perhaps the most reckless murder mission of '88 was perpetrated by an honorably discharged Army paratrooper turned crackhead hit man nicknamed "Happy." That summer, Kusar, the guy whose stepfather got the Raysors started in cocaine, was shot and paralyzed. No one saw who did it, but word on the street was that it was "White Owl," a/k/a "Scoobie." None of the Raysor crew knew him.
When a kid working for the gang told the group he thought Scoobie hung out on Willoughby and Throop, the Raysor crew went after him. Armed with semi-automatic handguns and assault rifles, the group approached Scoobie's corner from opposite sides. Happy took the lead, walking past a white Volvo parked on the corner and toward a group hanging on a stoop. As he did, he passed a tall, young man heading by him and casually said, "What's up, Scoobie?" The man grunted back, "Whassup."
Taking this as confirmation that he had his man, Happy turned and shot 22-year-old Alfair Williams Jr. As the rest of the Raysor crew opened fire, Williams's mother, Mary, was shot in the head inside her Volvo while shielding her 14-year-old daughter and 4-year-old granddaughter. Alfair Sr. was also shot as he tried to help his son. The parents survived, but Alfair Jr. didn't.
It turned out that Alfair Jr. wasn't White Owl or Scoobie: The six-footer's nickname was "Shorty," and that night, he and his family were going to South Carolina to visit family.
May-May's penchant for guns claimed another unexpected victim that year. On March 16, police were called to a shooting inside 382A Quincy Street and found 18-year-old Chaka lying in a pool of blood in the kitchen. A black Bersa .380 automatic handgun was found next to him. Chaka's right eye was gone. A federal agent who talked to those familiar with the shooting says that May-May shot Chaka "accidentally on purpose. You see, May-May was always a little bit jealous of his big brother."
Chaka, who from then on sported a glass eye, refused to tell police who shot him.
His lawyer recently claimed in court papers that "subsequent to being shot in the face and losing his eye, Chaka had a strong disdain for firearms." In fact, many of the crew called him "Chik," for "chicken," because of Chaka's refusal to take part in the gunplay that many of the others thrived on. But "Chik" was a relative term in this crew: Only two months after he lost his eye, Bay later testified, longtime martial-arts expert Chaka, along with May-May and D-Black, pulled a 62-year-old addict named Edward Morris out of their crack spot after he messed up on two of their $500 bombs. They dragged him into a nearby park and stomped and stabbed him to death.
In 1989, the gang expanded its operation to Virginia. Chaka supplied the drugs, and May-May ran the day-to-day operations in the Norfolk area, gang members testified.
What they found was a crack dealer's paradise. A $5 jack in Brooklyn would go for $20 in crack-starved Norfolk. You could sell out of your own apartment, eliminating the need for homeless slaves. Rip-off crews were few and far between, and the Norfolk cops were less sophisticated and just plain less in number than NYPD narcotics squads.
"Virginia was fresh," Lyte said, using vernacular that died out soon after he muttered it at trial in 1998.
In exchange, the "boys from New York," as the locals called them, brought their Brooklyn-style violence to the Southern city: Molotov cocktails, machine gunning, beat-downs, and several murders.
But one killing in Virginia turned out well for Norfolk. Against his better judgment, a guy named Leonard "Mass" Rothwell started slinging crack in Norfolk for May-May in the winter of '92.
"Everybody in New York was like, 'Yo, stay away from that nigger because the nigger will try to treat you like a slave,' " the Brooklyn-born "Mass" told Norfolk detectives about May-May. " 'Get you wrapped up in something that you can't get out of.' "
He made that statement to police on March 16, 1992, the day he turned informant because May-May was threatening to kill him over a drug debt.
Over the next two weeks, Mass kept in daily contact with the detectives. He also called his closest friend, Robert "Robo" Butler, and told him not to worry about May-May, who they both owed drug money to, because he was helping to get him locked up. But on one of those phone calls, May-May grabbed the phone from Butler and listened in as Mass described his traitorous plan. On March 29, Mass was shot in the head and killed by his pal Robo, reputedly on May-May's orders. It was Norfolk's good fortune, because most of the Raysor crew returned to Brooklyn while things cooled down.