The Bronx gang members whose beef led to the accidental shooting of passing schoolgirl Vada Vasquez complained Monday they are being hassled in jail.
Lawyers for four of the five men asked for protective custody at an appearance in Bronx Supreme Court, saying their clients fear for their safety behind bars.
"He's faced a fair amount of abuse in custody. He's been having a tough time inside," said Matthew Kluger, lawyer for Cleve Smith, 20.
"They be bothering him - even the correction officers," said Scylestina Smith, the suspect's mother. "They threw him in the cold shower. It's f----- up."
The fifth defendant, 16-year-old Carvett Gentles, charged with pulling the trigger that put an exploding bullet into the 15-year-old Bronx Latin student's brain, is already in protective custody as part of standard procedure.
The men might be getting the cold shoulder in prison, but they got a boisterous and warm welcome at their court appearance.
While all five were stone-faced at their arraignments last week, they smiled and nodded yesterday at the more than 30 friends and relatives that packed the courtroom.
"I love you all," Clivie Smith, 19, yelled out as he was led back to jail.
"We love you, too," replied his cheering section.
Gentles had more than a dozen teenage friends in the courtroom who apparently cut school to be there. They swore at reporters who tried to ask them questions.
Scylestina Smith, mother of Cleve and Clivie, was kicked out of the courtroom after yelling curses at a woman who apparently stepped on someone's foot.
The defendants will appear again on Dec. 2.
Even as she struggles to recover from terrible brain injuries at Lincoln Hospital, Vada has become a potent symbol of the innocent toll of guns on New York streets.
Mayor Bloomberg invoked her name yesterday when he announced the bust up of a massive Florida-to-New York firearms trafficking ring.
Click to view image: 'Smith'
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