Detectives in Queens have a suspect in custody in connection with a shooting spree in Queens and Brooklyn on Saturday morning that left one man dead and three others injured.
Law enforcement sources said a scooter-riding suspect shot the three victims in Richmond Hill, Queens, between 11:25 and 11:40 a.m. on July 8. He was also linked to a fourth shooting in nearby Cypress Hills, Brooklyn, that preceded the Queens portion of the rampage.
The motive for the shootings, four of which occurred in the 102nd Precinct‘s confines, remain unknown at this time, police sources said.
“It seems that these acts were random,” Assistant Chief Joe Kenny of the NYPD Detectives Bureau said. “The video shows he’s not targeting anybody, he’s not following anybody. As he’s driving on the scooter, he’s randomly shooting at people.”
Acting Police Commissioner Edward Caban said the suspect, a 25-year-old man with one prior arrest on his rap sheet, was apprehended at about 1 p.m. in nearby Jamaica, Queens, at the corner of Sutphin Boulevard and 94th Avenue.
The suspect had been picked up by officers assigned to the 103rd Precinct, who recognized the man from security video obtained quickly from the shooting scenes and transmitted to every police officer in the city through a “critical message,” Caban noted.
The commissioner said that the shooter rode an illegal scooter, and the weapon allegedly used in the spree, a 9 mm handgun with an extended magazine, was found stored within the illegal ride.
At each shooting scene, police officials noted, the NYPD recovered 9 mm shell casings, as well as video footage and/or witness descriptions of the same scooter-riding suspect.
Timeline of violence
During the press conference, Kenny outlined the timeline of the spree, which began in Cypress Hills at about 11:10 a.m. on July 8 at the corner of Ashford Street and Arlington Avenue.
Police said the suspect shot a 21-year-old man once in the left shoulder. He was rushed to Brookdale University Hospital, and is listed in stable condition.
Kenny said that 75th Precinct officers soon obtained video footage of the scooter-riding suspect pulling the trigger on the victim.
“As they began to process the scene, they came across video that shows a male Hispanic approach our victim from behind on a scooter, raises his hand one time and fires one time, striking our victim,” Kenny said.
Police said the scooter-riding shooter then traveled to Queens where, 17 minutes later, he shot an 86-year-old man was shot multiple times in the back outside May’s Beauty salon located at 108-19 Jamaica Ave., near 108th Street, at about 11:28 a.m.
EMS rushed the victim to Jamaica Hospital, where he was pronounced dead a short time later. Police have withheld his identity, pending family notification.
The perpetrator in this shooting was again described as a Hispanic man on a scooter, Kenny noted.
Nearby residents expressed shock over the attack. One woman who was going to get her nails done at the salon said it was “nerve-wracking to know that this happened” on a block filled with “lots of pedestrian traffic and smoke shops.”
In a case of tragic coincidence, the first shooting Saturday occurred just two blocks away from a Jamaica Avenue smoke shop where a 20-year-old man was shot and killed in an armed robbery back in March. The shop has since been shut down thanks to the intervention of local police and a neighborhood lawmaker, state Senator Joseph Addabbo.
Law enforcement sources reported, the perpetrator opened fire on a 44-year-old man standing near the corner of Hillside Avenue and 126th Street at 11:35 a.m.
EMS rushed the victim, who was struck in the face, to Jamaica Hospital where he is listed in critical condition with life-threatening injuries.
Then, at 11:37 a.m., cops said, the scooter-riding suspect shot a 63-year-old man at the corner of 134th Street and Jamaica Avenue, about 1.2 miles from the first shooting scene.
Police said the victim suffered a gunshot wound to his shoulder, and was rushed to nearby Jamaica Hospital in stable condition.
How they got him
As the spree unfolded, police established a massive mobilization to track the suspect down. Specialty NYPD units were called in, including Strategic Response and Counterterrorism Units.
Caban had also called an emergency meeting of top police brass about the investigation to further coordinate the rapid efforts to stop the suspect.
But what proved to be particularly critical in the suspect’s apprehension, Caban noted, was the “critical message” about the shooting spree — which included images of the suspect — that was sent to every NYPD officer via smartphones.
“Armed with an image of the suspect, our officers fanned out across Queens focusing on the main thoroughfares,” Caban added.
According to Kenny, officers from the 103rd and 113th Precincts on patrol in the area of Sutphin Boulevard and 94th Avenue at 1:10 p.m. spotted the 25-year-old male suspect riding a scooter — and recognized both him and the scooter from the image they received in the critical message. He was taken into custody without any further incident.
“Given the violence that this individual was willing to carry out, I want to extend my thanks and gratitude to all the men and women of the NYPD who came together to apprehend him,” Caban said during a press conference Saturday afternoon outside the 102nd Precinct stationhouse in Richmond Hill.
Charges against the apprehended suspect are pending the results of the ongoing investigation, authorities said.
This story was updated on July 8 at 5:30 p.m.