Police have released chilling footage of the moment a gunman opened fire at a group of friends in the Bronx on Wednesday killing a mother-of-three.
NYPD released surveillance footage Sunday showing a lone gunman, clad in black with his face obscured by a hoodie, pacing along East 152nd Street in Melrose letting off a series of shots in the early hours of Wednesday morning.
Priscilla Vazquez, 25, was the only member of the group to be shot and she was pronounced dead at the scene from a gunshot wound to the head.
Police also released a clip from a nearby building showing three people getting out of a Chevy Traverse with Pennsylvania plates, which they say was the gunman’s getaway vehicle. They added the driver damaged the dark-coloured SUV while fleeing the scene.
According to CBS New York, the bullet that killed the mother-of-three was meant for someone else.
Her aunt Patria Moris, 57, said ‘there was a shootout and the bullet wasn’t for her’.
‘It might have been an ex-boyfriend or maybe it was a stray shooting, I don’t know,’ she added.
Her sister Angela said she was still ‘in shock’ from the sudden death and had yet to fully understand what had happened.
‘I hope it’s not true that she’s not here, that somebody just shot her in the head,’ she said.
Vasquez has been described as a ‘great mother’ and a ‘happy person’, as well as a ‘strong and independent woman’.
‘She had her opinions and she say them, but she loved to be happy, joyful, loved to dance and have a drink,’ said Moris. ‘She was a very good mom. She raised them well. She was always friendly with everyone.’
No arrests have been made in the case and police are appealing for information.
New York City is enduring a summer of soaring violent crime.
Heat waves, high unemployment, and the grinding misery of social distancing restrictions have all contributed to an atmosphere in which tempers spin out of control, and verbal disputes between strangers often turn violent.
As well, gang violence and turf wars have contributed to the shootings, police say.
From midnight to midnight, at least three people died in shootings across the Big Apple on Saturday, including Vasquez.
The long list of shootings Saturday rounded off a bloody week where there were 56 people shot in 44 different incidents.
Last month, shooting incidents across the city were up 177 percent compared to last year.
Murders were up 59 percent for the month, burglaries rose 31 percent, and auto thefts increased 53 percent.
Homicides in NYC surged by 29 per cent to 244 from January 1 to August 2 from the same period last year.
The five boroughs have also seen an 84.6 per cent rise in shooting victims to 1,017 during those dates compared with the same period in 2019, The Wall Street Journal reported.
Facing pressure from activists, as well as a mounting budget crisis, Mayor Bill de Blasio cut $1 billion from the NYPD’s $6billion annual budget.
The mayor has also boasted of the large number of inmates released from Rikers Island due to the pandemic, proudly declaring that city jails had the lowest inmate population since World War II.
Yet police unions have blamed bail reform, police budget cuts, and anti-cop sentiment for the rise in violent crime.
Last week, the Patrolmen’s Benevolent Association, the city’s largest police union, took the unprecedented step of endorsing President Donald Trump’s re-election campaign.
Governor Andrew Cuomo has blamed police themselves for the rising crime, saying they have done ‘very little’ to come up with reform plans.
He also threatened to pull funding from up to 500 departments across the state if they do not have reform plans in place by April 2021.
Brooklyn Borough President Eric Adams has also criticized the police response.
‘They need to roll that plan out, and it needs to be a comprehensive plan that all of the community stakeholders and partners are aware of,’ Adams said. ‘I don’t know about the plan they’re doing. That is a problem.’
On Saturday, it was announced that NYPD cops will now have to give up their weekends as the department looks to dampen the violence.
Two-thirds of cops under the rank of captain who have both Saturday and Sunday off are being asked to switch their shifts so they work at least one day over the weekend.
Police Commissioner Dermot Shea said the change was being made ‘due to the combination of increased violence, ongoing protests, COVID-19 restrictions and reduction to overtime funding’.