Officers found the boy, Oluwadurotimi Joseph Oyebola, known as Timi, with a gunshot wound to his head shortly before 4 p.m., the authorities said.
He had been playing basketball after school with three friends at Chester Playground when at least one or two people fired shots from the southern end of the park, Assistant Chief Jeffrey Maddrey told reporters.
Two males were seen fleeing, the police said.
The boy was taken to Brookdale Hospital, where he was pronounced dead. The police said that they did not know the motive for the killing and that it was possible the boy was not the target of the shooting.
Oyebola lived in Queens and attended a charter school near the playground, Deputy Chief Michael Kemper said. The shots were fired from more than 100 feet away.
“He was a really, really good kid,” he said. “There’s a strong possibility that he was the unintended target of this bullet.”
Oyebola was in 11th grade at Brooklyn Ascend High School, said Steven Wilson, the chief executive of the Ascend charter school network. The school is about a half-mile from the playground.
Oyebola moved to New York with his parents and sister from Lagos, Nigeria, in 2013, said his father, David Oyebola.
“He was a good boy. He was my strength,” David Oyebola said. “It’s a big loss that I can never recover from.”
The boy’s favorite subjects were math and science, his father said, and he wanted to have a career as a doctor or engineer. In November, he was scheduled to accept a national award for academic achievement at Columbia University.
David Oyebola, 49, a minister at the Abundant Life Christian Center in Brooklyn, said his son was active in the church and was supposed to attend a worship session Friday. He said he often worried about his son being in the neighborhood near his school because he had heard about shootings there.
He would ask his son to tell him when he arrived at school and left for the day, he said. At 5 p.m., when he received a call saying his son had been shot, he rushed to the hospital to see him.
“The authorities are supposed to protect us,” he said. “So I’d like an answer: Who killed my son? I’d like justice to be done.”
Wilson, the charter school’s executive, said the boy was a dedicated student who often stayed at school into the evening to study and meet with his teachers. He was quiet but witty, and he was so passionate about basketball that he often carried a ball around with him, Wilson said.
“Oluwadurotimi’s future was bright, and it is simply unfathomable that it was cut short so heinously,” he said.
Tolu Olowoyo, 16, said he became friends with the boy when the Oyebola family emigrated from Nigeria about five years ago. Olowoyo said the boy had a knack for making his friends laugh and was selfless, too.
“He’d go out of his way to help others,” he said.
Madeline Sanders, 40, a mother of three who lives near the park and attended the nearby public school, said the shooting made her anxious because her son plays basketball there.
Gesturing to the block that had been roped off by the police, Sanders said her siblings had a barbecue there just last weekend and she had considered it a safe place.
“This is broad daylight and a full schoolyard,” Sanders said. “Now it’s like, ‘Are our kids safe?’ And you want to believe your kids are safe in the neighborhood we grew up.”
Her husband, Richard Sanders, 44, said he believed that the community was safe but that there was a problem with teenagers getting ahold of guns.
“They bring the guns to the basketball court,” he said. “Unbelievable.”
At about 10 p.m., congregants from David Oyebola’s church entered his house in Queens to pray with his family.
“We believe that in the last moments of his life, the Lord had him,” a preacher said. “He is sleeping in the flesh, but alive in the soul.”
This article originally appeared in The New York Times.