NYC SHOOTINGS: Another Bronx shooting investigated as cops probe restaurant murder

Detectives from the 52nd Precinct investigate a triple shooting at 2345 Jerome Avenue on Monday, October 19th. (Photo by Lloyd Mitchell)

Just one person was shot last night, in the Bronx, after a violent Monday morning in which a woman was gunned down inside a restaurant, police officials said.

The lone person shot last night was a 44-year-old man who was attacked at 7 p.m. as he got off an elevator at 2338 Bruckner Blvd. in the Days Inn Motel, apparently a temporary shelter in the Unionport section of the Bronx. The victim told police from the 43rd Precinct that an unknown man shot him in the right leg and fled.

He was taken to Jacobi Medical Center where he was reported in stable condition.

Monday morning was marred by a shooting in a restaurant in University Heights the Bronx, where a 19-year-old woman was killed and two others wounded when a man entered a backroom of the restaurant and began firing.

The gunfire erupted at 7 a.m. on Oct. 19 as customers and workers inside the Mex-Tec-Club at 2647 Jerome Ave. near 183rd Street. The assailant apparently walked into a rear sitting area of the restaurant, with predominantly Spanish speaking customers, and began firing.

When officers from the 52nd Precinct arrived, they found Wendolin Ortiz, 19, of East 163rd Street with a bullet wound to her torso; a 28-year-old man hit in the arm, and a 30-year-old man struck three times in various parts of his body. All three were raced to St Barnabas Hospital, where Ortiz died of her wounds.

At this point in the investigation, police said, it’s unclear if Ortiz was among the shooter’s targets.

Investigators were looking at two possibilities that either there was a dispute among workers or a dispute within a social club that was operating in the rear of the restaurant. Police and witnesses say all occupants were eating breakfast when the shooting took place.

Shea worries over attrition

Commissioner Dermot Shea expressed concern in a NY1 interview Tuesday morning that they were losing many experienced commanders and police officers to attrition. There has been a marked increase in retirements this year, more than 75 percent over last year, much of which spurred by recent protests over the death of George Floyd at the hands of Minnesota cops.

Many long-time commanders have either filed for retirement or expressed intent to retire this year. This comes as Police Academy classes have been put on hold, reducing the number of officers by more than 2,500 city-wide.

The reduction in officers and overtime came during what was called in the media “the summer of violence” in which shootings and homicides surged from June to September.

NYPD Commissioner Dermot Shea at a recent US Attorney press conference. (Photo by Todd Maisel)

“It’s a significant challenge. You can get lost sometimes in the numbers of this budget, but if you think back to a news person, a doctor, when you went into a profession, what you knew – this can’t be made up overnight,” Shea said. “Across the breath of the department, from patrol cop to detective to those in between, there is a concern about large numbers of people we are losing and that impacts services we can deliver.”

However, Shea expressed confidence in the “new talent” that has come up the ranks.

“We have new people come in so we think of how to train, how to get up to speed, but you can’t just train 30 years of experience,” Shea sighed. “Institutional knowledge is lost but there is a deep bench to help replace high ranking chiefs.  Upper levels have seen losses, but we have a large talent pool.”

The impact of losing officers is felt in the community too, Shea added, saying “people are devastated to know that officers, some community affairs, who they know for 20 years, those officers who chose a career path to serve a sole community for decades – the community feels it.”

Only last week, Chief of Patrol Fausto Pichardo put in for retirement after more than 21 years on the job. The retirement was said to have been over an incident with the mayor over phone calls and texts.

Chief of Patrol Fausto Pichardo was promoted last December to Chief of Patrol. (Photo by Todd Maisel)