Police officials had just announced the arrest of two men in the fatal shooting of a 61-year-old woman in the Bronx this week when they learned of another episode of gun violence not far away on Friday: three teenagers shot outside a high school in the Bronx, one of them fatally.
The news of the shooting, which brought a swift end to the news conference announcing the arrests, was a grim reminder of the spike in shootings that has plagued New York since the pandemic began. Through April 3, there had been more shootings in the city this year than at the same point in 2020 and 2021, with more than 330 people shot dead, according to police data.
Police Commissioner Keechant L. Sewell said at the press conference that two brothers have been charged with second-degree murder in the murder of 61-year-old woman Juana Esperanza Soriano De-Perdomo.
Ms Soriano De-Perdomo, police said, was outside a bodega in the Fordham Heights section on her way home from work when she was shot dead amid an argument between two groups of ‘men.
Police officials had answered about five questions from reporters when Commissioner Sewell ended the press conference. “We have an active scene that we need to be informed about,” she said before rushing out of the room.
The abrupt conclusion to the proceedings appears to be related to what police say was the shooting of two 16-year-old girls and a 17-year-old boy near University Heights High School in the Melrose neighborhood.
The violence erupted when an unidentified man who was arguing with the three teenagers pulled out a gun and began shooting, police said.
One of the girls was shot in the chest and pronounced dead, police said at a second news conference later Friday; the other two teens were in stable condition at Lincoln Medical Center. It was unclear if they were students at the school.
Police have identified the girl who was killed early Saturday as Angellyh Yambo.
The two shootings, which took place about four miles apart, were stark examples of the gun violence that Mayor Eric Adams vowed to combat but persisted in his first months in office.
Mr. Adams has repeatedly said that his top priority is to increase the public’s sense that New York is safe. But the continued pace of gunfire, combined with other high-profile crimes this year, is testing its ability to deliver on its promise while stoking fear among some townspeople.
Contributing to anxiety is the toll of innocent children. A 12-year-old boy, Kade Lewin, was killed March 31 after someone fired at least eight shots into a parked car in the East Flatbush neighborhood of Brooklyn. He ate with two parents at the time. A few days earlier, a bullet hit a 3 year old girl on the shoulder as she left a Brooklyn daycare center with her father.
During the shooting of Ms Soriano De-Perdomo, police say she was walking down the street and did not interact with any of the gunmen.
“She was completely innocent,” said James Essig, the department’s chief of detectives, at the previous press conference on Friday. “An unwitting victim of this scourge of gun violence we see now.”
The two men arrested in the murder, Donald Johnson, 20, and Rakell Hampton, 33, have been charged with second degree murder, first degree manslaughter and criminal possession of a weapon. It was not immediately clear if they had lawyers.
Police said the men had an argument with a group of three people, including a clothing salesman who was the intended target when the shooting began. Mr Johnson fired his gun five times as the other group of men fled, police said; at least one bullet hit Ms. Soriano De-Perdomo in the back.
The vendor sprinted into a subway station and the two people accompanying him left in a white car, police said. Chief Essig said police had not identified the three people in that group or a third person who was with Mr Johnson and Mr Hampton at the time.
Mr Johnson was on probation after being convicted of possession of stolen property in Rockland County, New York, and was also arrested for a firearm in New Jersey last winter, it said the police.
Mr Hampton, whom police have identified as a member of the Bloods gang, appeared in court this month for felony possession of a weapon for which bail has been set, police said. He was released after paying it and is due back in court on April 12.
At a vigil this week, Victor Perdomo Soriano, one of Mrs. Soriano De-Perdomo’s sons, described her as a kind-hearted, gentle and hardworking mother and grandmother. She had just left work for a hair appointment and was on her way to a store when she was shot, he said.
“And then she got killed like that?” he said.
Mr. Soriano told the Daily News in an interview that his mother, whose family is originally from the Dominican Republic, worked in a bathroom fixture company and spent all of her earnings helping her family.
“My mother never had any problems with anyone,” he told the Daily News. “She wanted to be here for her grandchildren and they took her life. They took his life for nothing.