In Harm's Way: Remembering the Life of Shaaliver Douse

Monday, August 12, 2013


Shanise Farrar has barely stopped moving since she learned her son, 14-year-old Shaaliver Douse, was killed in the Bronx by police. Early last Sunday, rookie officers said they encountered him chasing and shooting at another youth on 151st Street and he refused to drop his gun. In the midst of her shock, she's been receiving family, neighbors and friends around the clock while also planning his funeral. She recently dug into a bag of keepsakes and photos to create a collage for his memorial.

"Here’s Shaaliver right here,” she said, glancing at a picture of her only child as a newborn. “He looked like a little old man,” she recalled with nostalgia.

Ferrar, 40, said she knew she wanted to have kids from a young age, after losing her own mother to cancer when she was 14. She came up with the name Shaaliver when she was pregnant, by combining the 'Sha' from her name and Oliver from his dad’s, adding that it was one of the few things her son got from his mostly absent father. When he was 6 and 7 years old, Farrar said he began making the 5-minute walk to try and see him.

"He’d bang on the door, scream his name 'dad, open the door, open the door it's Shaaliver.'” Farrar said his Dad often ignored him, at a great cost.

"He always asked did his dad love him. I explained that his dad loved him but in his own way. I couldn't lie to my child.”

Over the last year, Ferrar said his father was stopping by her apartment almost daily in an attempt to heal past wounds and encourage a bond between Shaaliver and his siblings.

She said her son was quiet and protective of people he loved. He grew tall and muscular, looking older than his years.

Shaaliver's cousin, Arnold Levine, who's also 14, used to attend school with him at P186, a middle school for special needs students in the Bronx. He said his cousin enjoyed science and was a great athlete, but had to constantly deal with bullies.

"Everyday...we'd be walking in a line, Shaaliver got to walk on the side because its going to be like 5 or 6 kids rushing him at one time,” he said, looking upset.

Levine said he saw his his cousin being spit on, getting his bookbag tossed to the ground, and taking punches to the face until his nose was split open. He said Shaaliver didn't fight back. But in the past year, whether it was troubles with the law or in the street, that appeared to change. Last October, Shaaliver was accused of carrying a loaded gun and was due back in court. And in May he was accused of attempted murder and weapons possession. The Bronx District Attorney’s office said prosecution was deferred in the case because there was insufficient evidence to proceed. In his defense, Shaaliver's mom said her son wasn't perfect but he was no gang-banger.

"My child would never have a gun in my house. If he did, I didn't know about it."

The teen grew up in the Morris Houses in the Bronx where street crews are a threat. Police said a nearby crew called the Lyman Place Bosses have had an ongoing beef with Shaaliver and his friends. Seventeen-year-old Jermaine Ferguson would not mention any rivals by name, but he said a sense of danger the night Shaaliver was killed made him call his friend to warn him not to go outside.

"Don't come over here," he recalled telling Shaaliver. "It's crazy...boys that don't like us are over here."

Shaaliver left his apartment around 8:00 p.m. that night and never returned home. Farrar said she received a visit the next morning from detectives informing her he was dead. "I miss my son...looking for him, yelling at him, him asking me for money. I miss everything about my child."

She said she wanted to send Shaaliver to Colorado away from the chaos to stay with her brother but didn't get the chance.

A viewing and funeral for 14 year old Shaaliver Douse will be held on Monday evening at Lagree Baptist Church in Harlem.

Kathleen Horan/WNYC
Shaaliver's mother, Shanise Farrar.
Courtesy of Shanise Farrar.
Blowing out the candles for his 4th birthday.
Courtesy of Shanise Farrar.
As a baby with Elmo, a favored toy.
Courtesy of Shanise Farrar
A recent picture of Shaaliver, nicknamed Wally by his mom.
Kathleen Horan/WNYC
Friends reacted with tears and anger to the news Shaaliver was killed on August 4th.
Kathleen Horan/WNYC
Friend Jermaine Ferguson, 17, and cousin, Arnold Levine, 14.
Shaaliver's sneakers and candles are part of a growing memorial to him outside his family's apartment in the Gouverneur Morris Houses.


Julianne Welby


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Comments [14]

bing bow from Wash Side

smd shaalie

Sep. 03 2013 07:08 PM
Lou from Brooklyn

Further reporting:

Aug. 26 2013 01:52 PM
Dee from PA

At the end of the day, this kid was a problem and his mother was a poor parent. Why was he out at 3:00am in the morning?

Why did he shoot someone a few months earlier?

The aunt that was on TV was a straight hoodrat.

Aug. 19 2013 01:15 AM

Fifty [ 50 ] years after LBJ's " Great Society " and the chickens have come home to roost.

Aug. 13 2013 01:33 PM
Lisa Monterez

The reporters keep referring to the officers as "rookies" as if it makes a difference.

Aug. 12 2013 08:23 PM

If he were just a few years older no one would be sobbing over this guy.

A big problem in our society is this assumption that all kids are good. Guess what people. 3 in the morning, had a gun, was shooting at someone, not listening to police. If he were 18 he would be considered scum of the earth, but no, because he happened to be a few years younger, people act like he was 'a victim of gun violence.' You tell me how else they were supposed to deal with him? Sat down with him and had a talk? Ever wonder why police are armed? The fact that he is 14 years old should go straight out the window.

I'm all for protecting kids. But we any ignore the fact that a 14 year old is perfectly capable of doing bad things. Let's not be dumb.

Aug. 12 2013 08:14 PM
Lee Gelber from Astoria

Kathleen Horan is a brilliant reporter. However, she did not pose or answer the question as to how does a 14 year old get his hands on a 9 millimeter automatic pistol?

Aug. 12 2013 06:37 PM

There are several external forces leading to the tragic ends of those profiled in this series that must be taken into account. The ease with which guns purchased in other states flow into New York State and especially poor neighborhoods. The need for more more early intervention programs for at risk youths. Was the issue of this young man being bullied addressed at his school? We as a society can do more. Parents play a big role in the civic standing of their children, they are a part of the solution but so is civil society and government programs/agencies. What he did was wrong. The shooting was justified but what happened that night was also a confluence of decades of divestment in seeking to improve the lives of the poor and families at risk. It's too simple to see a young thug and a single mother and dole out blame. Experiences are nuanced and complex than that.

Aug. 12 2013 01:34 PM
Carter Carter


Aug. 12 2013 12:44 PM
Big Apple Boy

His "mother" and absentee father are to blame. Furthermore, how in the heck did this so-called mother of his NOT KNOW HER SON was not in their home during the night?! She did not realize he was gone until 8:00 AM the next morning after seeing him leave around 7 or 8 the previous evening. Really??!! Your 14 year old kid is gone ALL night and this does not raise an alarm. Thank God this gang-banger was the only thug she gave birth to. Glad the police officers are OK. They are my only concern; not this woman or her juvenile delinquent dead child. No sympathy here...move along.

Aug. 12 2013 12:37 PM
Tucker Ranson from Manhattan

I want to thank WNYC for not leaving Shaaliver Douse out and seeing that even though he was reportedly using a gun, he still is a tragic victim of gun violence and a culture of gun and violence worship.

I am not willing to "blame" the parents without knowing any more than the most superficial things about them. For just one example, public policies about education, wages, economic development, housing, along with many other circumstances place limits on the choices available to people. But even if we were to accept this shifting of "blame," it would only shift the blame, not solve the problem.

Aug. 12 2013 11:51 AM

Sad story often told. This is an important series. It prompts thought of a potential follow up or next series.

I for one (and I'm certain members of the depicted neighborhoods) would benefit from hearing of success stories of kids, parents and especially dads from these same neighborhoods. What works?

Aug. 12 2013 11:31 AM

its is always sad when a young person loses their life. Obviously the mother loves her son. But im sure she feels guilty for not knowing her son had a gun and would actually chase someone shooting at them. This youth made a huge mistake not putting that gun down. the lesson here is if you have a gun on you and the police tell you to drop it. drop the damn gun.

I can only wonder now where are the civil rights leadersm like sharpton and jackson? Its time for them to step up and protest the violence within their own community. Everyone voiced their opinion on Trayvon. Where is the outrage that this 14 year old was running around with a gun, chasing and shooting after another teen?

Aug. 12 2013 10:52 AM
john from office

The problem is obvious, there is no parenting going on in these families.

No fathers and the mothers are incapable of raising and caring for themselves, let alone a child.

WNYC paints these stories as sad tales, and they are, but what about asking mom why her son is running around late at night and where are the parents of the kids who bullied this young man?? No one is raising these kids and that results in the chaos of their lives. I don't blame this young man, I blame the "parents" who were never parenting.

Aug. 12 2013 08:33 AM

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