NEW YORK –
A 15-year-old boy accused of shooting a Brazilian tourist in the leg in Times Square on Thursday night and then shooting a police officer as he fled was arrested outside New York City on Friday, officials said. of cop.
The teenager was detained at a residential home that police believe may be linked to a family member in Yonkers nearly 24 hours after the shooting that began at a sporting goods store and spread to the bustling streets of midtown Manhattan.
At a news conference announcing the arrest Friday night, New York City Police Commissioner Edward Caban said it was a “true miracle” that no one was seriously injured in the shooting.
“In the middle of the busiest and most crowded area of this city, a criminal with a firearm decided to pull the trigger,” Caban said.
Hours earlier, police identified the suspect as a resident of a Manhattan migrant shelter who arrived in New York from Venezuela late last year. He is also considered a suspect in an armed robbery in the Bronx and a separate shooting in Times Square last month, police said.
Police said the shooter, dressed all in white, and two teenage companions were stealing a jacket from the store shortly after 7 p.m. when they were confronted by a security guard who asked to see a receipt.
When the trio couldn’t produce one, the guard took the goods. That’s when the teen allegedly pulled out a .45-caliber handgun and shot him. The bullet did not hit the worker, but grazed a 38-year-old tourist who was waiting in line to buy a pair of sneakers.
The shooter and one of the other teenagers accompanying him fled toward the busy tourist center. Four blocks away, on 47th Street, near a triangular Times Square pedestrian plaza where visitors line up to buy Broadway tickets and take selfies with the area’s iconic signs, two officers quickly spotted the couple and detained them. to the second person.
The shooter fled toward Sixth Avenue with one of the officers in pursuit, at one point cutting between buildings. There, he turned and fired at the officer, police said.
“Our officer draws his gun. He can’t shoot,” NYPD Chief of Patrol John Chell said at a news conference Thursday night. “There are too many people around, there are too many people ducking.”
The teenager shot again from under his arm and continued fleeing, running towards a subway station. Surveillance video showed him going onto the tracks and back out onto the street, Chell said.
It is unclear if the teen has an attorney or anyone who can speak on his behalf. Prosecutors said they are generally not identified until arraignment, which has not yet occurred.
Police said they spoke to hundreds of people and obtained strong surveillance photos of the alleged shooter before his arrest Friday afternoon.
In an interview with NBC, tourist Tatiele Ribeiro Lemos recalled the “terrifying moment” when she realized she had been shot.
“I started to control myself, then I looked at my leg and saw blood dripping, but I was able to stay calm,” he said in Portuguese. “I think this was just an unfortunate incident, it could have happened anywhere in the world.”
He received 13 stitches for the wound at a local hospital, according to the NBC report.
The shooting came on the heels of another high-profile incident in Times Square involving a fight between immigrants and police officers.
Overall, crime rates have plummeted in New York City from a peak at the height of the COVID-19 pandemic. The number of people shot in the city fell 39% between 2022 and 2023.
Once one of New York’s seediest spots, synonymous with pornographic theaters and sex work, Times Square underwent a revitalization in the 1990s that transformed it into one of the city’s most family-friendly destinations. Most nights it is packed with tourists and street performers, although it also attracts pickpockets and scammers who prey on out-of-towners.
Chell said Times Square remains safe for visitors.
“Take a look around you, thousands of people shopping and walking around,” he said. “We remain the safest city in the world.”