The murder in the Bronx was a youth crime.
The shots that killed Kyhara Tay, 11, Monday afternoon, were fired by a 15-year-old boy, according to police.
The boy was too young to even drive the motorized scooter he was riding, and was driven by an 18-year-old who had already been the victim of gun violence twice.
The intended target, who had ducked into a nearby entrance to take cover, was 13.
In the early morning hours of Friday, the 15-year-old was arrested in a hotel room and charged with firing the bullets that struck Kyhara, a bustling sixth-grader known as Kyky, who had walked on Fox Street in the district’s Longwood neighborhood.
The suspect “ended the life of a totally innocent, completely uninvolved 11-year-old girl,” Commissioner Keechant Sewell said at a news conference where she announced the boy would be charged with murder. “I won’t say she was in the wrong place, because why couldn’t an 11-year-old child be outside in broad daylight?”
The teenage suspect was driving as a passenger on a motorized scooter on Monday afternoon, according to law enforcement officers and video released by detectives. He and the scooter’s 18-year-old driver, Omar Bojang, pursued another boy, 13, who fled north on Fox Street and then ducked into a building entrance to evade his pursuers, police officials said.
As the scooter flew by, the 13-year-old could be seen on surveillance footage firing in the opposite direction. Police say the suspect then backed onto the scooter and started firing indiscriminately at his fleeing target. A stray bullet struck Kyhara, who was on his way to visit family. She was shot in the abdomen and taken to Lincoln Hospital in critical condition, where she died.
Investigators identified the suspect and Mr. Bojang through video surveillance and were able to track the 15-year-old to a hotel in the Parkchester section of the Bronx in the early hours of Friday morning. He was found there with his mother and three other children, law enforcement officials said. The family, who do not live at the hotel, had checked into the room that evening.
Mr Bojang remained free on Friday.
The murder is symbolic of what law enforcement officers and city officials say is a gun violence crisis affecting the city’s youth. Both Mr Bojang and the boy accused of the shooting had previously been victims of crime – Mr Bojang, 18, had been shot twice in the past two years.
“Eleven, 15, 18. Over and over we see 11, 15, 18,” Mayor Eric Adams said at a news conference Friday. “Children who kill children.”
Kyhara joins a grim list of children who have been victims of the surge in New York City shootings, showing little sign of slowing down after a surge during the early days of the pandemic. In January, an 11-month-old baby was beaten while sitting in a parked car with her mother in the Bronx; she was taken to hospital in critical condition but returned home last week. In April, a 12-year-old boy, Kade Lewin, was fatally struck by a stray bullet in Brooklyn while eating dinner with his mother in a car.
A total of 16 children aged 16 or under have been shot in the Bronx so far this year; five of them were under the age of 14, said Darcel Clark, the county’s district attorney. In an agonized plea on Friday, she pleaded with Bronx residents to help police hold those who commit violence to account.
“We’re talking about a shooter too young to be called a shooter,” she said.