Two Bronx squatters found with guns, drugs and criminal histories set free following arraignment, leaving police official irate

Police officer in the Bronx
File photo.
Photo by Dean Moses

Two recidivist offenders were among a group of armed individuals found squatting in a Bronx home with a serious cache of firearms and illicit drugs, police officials said.

The eight people were located illegally residing at a home in the vicinity of 207th Street and Hull Avenue in Williamsbridge on March 27, NYPD officials outlined at a press briefing on April 1. 

Among the group were two individuals who had been previously arrested in the past year for serious felonies — and despite the additional charges stemming from last week’s incident, wound up back out on the streets without bail again.

It left Chief of Patrol John Chell apoplectic, especially in the wake of the March 25 line-of-duty murder of Police Officer Jonathan Diller in Queens, which allegedly involved two career criminals.

“Two days later, in the midst of all this, they [cops] are still working confronting people with firearms who shouldn’t have been there,” Chief Chell said.

The incident unfolded outside of a home on 207th Street and Hull Avenue when officers responding to a 911 call found 24-year-old Hector Desousa Villalta aiming a gun at another person. Villalta then spotted police and fled inside the building.

Responding officers apparently pursued the suspect and tackled the gun-toting man inside the basement — yet quickly realized he wasn’t alone.

Chell explained that as many as eight people were inside the location, including 22-year-old Javier Alborno — who apparently tried to sneak away from police with a handgun concealed in his armpit. Alborno was ultimately apprehended without further incident.

Perhaps most disturbing of all, police noted, cops also located a 7-year-old child in the basement, close to a stash containing two firearms (one of which was a ghost gun), ammunition, and two bags of drugs of cocaine and ketamine.

While the relationship between those inside the basement is not currently clear, police did say they were migrants hailing from Venezuela. Police believe the individuals staying in the basement were squatting and the landlord was currently attempting to have them evicted.

NYPD Chief of Patrol John Chell
NYPD Chief of Patrol John Chell fumed after two suspects in a Bronx gun and drug bust last week were released from custody without bail.File photo/Dean Moses

The two men arrested with guns, meanwhile, had racked up serious prior charges prior to their arrests.

Police officials said Desousa Villalta was apparently cuffed in Yonkers last August for shooting a man in the leg during a dispute over a woman; he was slapped with an attempted murder charge. However, he ended up being released back on the street after his victim did not want to take action against him.

Court records note that Desousa Villata was hit after his March 27 arrest with multiple counts of criminal possession of a controlled substance and criminal possession of a firearm — both serious felonies. Nevertheless, at his March 29 arraignment before Judge Eugene Bowen, he was released on non-monetary conditioned bail. 

Screenshot of court record of Bronx suspect arrested with guns and drugs
The arraignment information for Hector Desousa Villalta following his March 29 arrest.New York State Unified Court System

Meanwhile, Alborno had been arrested in September 2023 for possession of a loaded firearm, and had been released on bail following that arrest prior to his March 27 collar.

Chief Chell compared the incident to Officer Diller’s murder, noting that the two suspects in the case — 34-year-old Guy Rivera and 41-year-old Lindy Jones — both also had a long list of prior arrests.

“Why are we confronting people with guns again that shouldn’t have them?” Chell asked. “Why is a person locked up for a firearm out on the street?”