Police officers had just announced the arrests of two men in the deadly 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 school. Bronx High School. , one of them fatally.
News of the shooting, which quickly ended the news conference announcing the arrests, was a grim reminder of the surge in shootings that has plagued New York since the pandemic began. As of April 3, there have been more shootings in the city this year than at the same point in 2020 and 2021, with more than 330 people killed, police data shows.
Police Commissioner Keechant L. Sewell said at the news conference that two brothers had been charged with second-degree murder for shooting the 61-year-old woman, Juana Esperanza Soriano De-Perdomo.
Ms. Soriano De-Perdomo, police said, was outside a warehouse in the Fordham Heights section on her way home from work when she was shot amid a dispute between two groups of men.
Police officers had answered about five questions from reporters when Commissioner Sewell ended the news conference. “We have an active scene that we need to be briefed on,” he said before running out of the room.
The abrupt conclusion to proceedings appeared to be related to what police said 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 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 on Friday; the other two teens were in stable condition at Lincoln Medical Center. The names of the teens were not released. It was not clear if they were students at the school.
The two shootings, which took place about four miles apart, were striking examples of the gun violence that Mayor Eric Adams promised to address but has persisted through his first months in office.
Mr. Adams has repeatedly said that increasing the public’s sense that New York is safe is his top priority. But the continued pace of the shooting, combined with other high-profile crimes this year, is testing his ability to deliver on his promise while fueling fear among some city residents.
Contributing to anxiety is the cost of innocent children. A 12-year-old boy, Kade Lewin, was killed on March 31 after someone fired at least eight shots at a parked car in Brooklyn’s East Flatbush neighborhood. He was eating with two relatives at the time. Days earlier, a 3-year-old girl was hit in the shoulder by a bullet as she was leaving a Brooklyn daycare with her father.
In the shooting of Ms. Soriano De-Perdomo, police said that she had been walking down the street and had not interacted with any of the gunmen.
“She was totally innocent,” James Essig, the department’s chief of detectives, said at the news conference earlier Friday. “An unintended victim of this scourge of gun violence that we now see.”
The two men arrested for the murder, Donald Johnson, 20, and Rakell Hampton, 33, were charged with second-degree murder, first-degree manslaughter and criminal possession of a weapon. It was not immediately clear if they had attorneys.
Police said the men had been arguing with a three-person group that included a clothing salesman who was the intended target when the shooting began. Johnson fired his gun five times as the other group of men ran off, police said; at least one bullet hit Mrs. Soriano De-Perdomo in her back.
The vendor ran toward a subway station and the two people with him drove away 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 Johnson and Hampton at the time.
Mr. Johnson was on probation after being convicted of possessing stolen property in Rockland County, New York, and had also been arrested on a weapons charge in New Jersey last winter, police said.
Mr. Hampton, who police identified as a member of the Bloods gang, appeared in court this month on a charge of criminal possession of a weapon for which bail was set, police said. He was released after paying it and is scheduled to return to court on April 12.
At a vigil this week, Victor Perdomo Soriano, one of Ms. Soriano De-Perdomo’s sons, described her as a caring, kind and hard-working mother and grandmother. She had just gotten off work to go to a hair salon and had gone to a store when she was shot, he said.
“And then they killed her like this?” he said.
Mr. Soriano told The Daily News in an interview that his mother, whose family is originally from the Dominican Republic, had been working at a bathroom appliance company and had put all her earnings to help her family.
“My mother never had problems with anyone,” she told The Daily News. “She wanted to be here for her grandchildren and they took her life. She had her life taken from her for nothing.”