Matthew Godwin, 15, is in custody and charged as an adult with murder for the drive-by shooting that left 11-year-old Kyhara Tay dead from a stomach wound, police officials revealed Friday, adding that an 18-year-old suspect is also sought.
“Kids killing kids. Illegal guns are as easy to buy as candy and comic books,” Mayor Eric Adams said, describing the arrest of the 15-year-old for the killing.
Tay was standing in front of 993 Fox Street with a family member on May 16 when she was struck by a stray bullet apparently intended for another child–a 13-year-old boy. Police said Godwin and Omar Bojang, 18, were on a scooter chasing the boy along Fox Street when Godwin allegedly brandished a gun and unleashed a hail of bullets.
Detectives from the 41 Precinct, Bronx homicide and the Intelligence Bureau collected footage and other surveillance, surmising that Godwin and his mother along with three other children were hiding from law enforcement at a Hotel Ninety Five, located at 1275 Pugsley Avenue, according to Chief of Detectives James W. Essig. The family rented the hotel room on May 19 and was discovered by police on May 20 at 1:30 am. Godwin was arrested without incident, while no charges have been filed against Godwin’s mother. No gun has been recovered.
“He was with his mother at the time. That person is Matthew Godwin, male, 15 years old, with a date of birth of 3/13/2007. He is arrested and charged with murder in the second degree, manslaughter in the first degree, and a criminal possession of a weapon in the second degree. He has no prior arrests, but his previous contacts with police include in October of 2019. As a 12 year old he’s a victim of harassment when someone smacked him in the face and stated ‘Are you a member of the 800 YGz, which is a notorious violent gang,’” Essig said.
Essig stated that police are still searching for Omar Bojang, a MoneyWell gang member, a subset of 800 YGz. He is known to police for a history of gun violence and possession of a weapon.
The 800 YGz have been known to be at the root of several teen murders last summer, including that of a 13-year-old, 16-year-old, and 19-year-old.
Bronx District Attorney Darcel D. Clark, pleaded with New Yorkers to help aid the investigation by providing information on Bojang’a whereabouts, stating that the streets are not safe until he is apprehended.
“It’s your responsibility as well, turn him in,” Clark said. “The community is not safe as long as he is out there and wanted.”
Clarke emphasized the age of the gunman, pushing that children carrying firearms is a perpetual issue ongoing in New York. She reaffirmed that the Bronx has suffered approximately 25 children, all 16 and under, as well as 24 17 year olds who have been arrested for gun possession. Tay is the second child in the Bronx killed due to gun violence this year.
“Mr. Goodwin is the subject who pulled the trigger while riding on the back of the moped. Instead of hitting his intended target. However, he ended the life of a totally innocent, completely uninvolved 11 year old girl. I won’t say she was in the wrong place because why shouldn’t an 11-year-old child be able to stand outside in broad daylight? The teenagers who took key Kyhara’s life a sixth grader who as her father said didn’t even have the chance to grow up. They shouldn’t have been there. They have devastated a family while at the same time ending their own lives as they know them,” Police Commissioner Keechant Sewell said.
The senseless killing left the city enraged and demanding justice, with several tear-filled vigils taking place at the scene of her death.
On May 18 at vigil, Tay’s father Sokpini Tay wailed in a heartbreaking plea for justice. “I am never going to touch or see her again, man! I am going to be living in pain the rest of my life! I want that person to suffer in pain!”