Four people in and around St. James Park in Kingsbridge Heights were wounded Tuesday evening when a gunman on a scooter shot into a crowd. Among the wounded are a 6-year-old and 3-year-old.
Two men on a scooter on E. 193 rd St. and Morris Avenue approached the park at about 5:45 p.m. when one of the men got off and began firing into the park.
Police say this resulted in a 25-year-old man being shot in the lower back, a 23-year-old man in the left thigh, a 6-year-old boy in the right calf, and a 3-year-old being grazed in the right calf. All victims were taken to Saint Barnabas Hospital and are in stable condition.
As for the two men responsible for the shooting, they fled southbound onto Creston Avenue.
A 2700 Jerome Ave. resident who was in the park during Tuesday’s shooting told The Riverdale Press she was separated from her son who was in a wheelchair. The woman, who identified herself as Maria Alvarez, said she was sitting near the entrance of the park when the two men approached.
“The scooter pulled up,” she said. “It’s two guys. One jumps up with the gun and starts shooting randomly over here. I fell to the ground,” Alvarez said.
She said she witnessed the 6-year-old victim “go down.” Once she saw that, she knew she had to get away and find her child. Days ago Alvarez and her son had come up with a plan of where to meet in the event there was ever an emergency and they were separated. They thankfully made it to each other.
Alvarez heard from a mobile app that the two shooters allegedly were also involved in a shooting by 195th Street near Kingsbridge, leading to another person getting injured.
She theorized that the shooters likely had a target, saying people don’t just shoot at kids.
“I’m thinking they were looking for somebody to shoot at and people got in the way, innocent bystanders,” she said.
“A child should not be traumatized. Now this kid might have PTSD, don’t want to go near a park. It messes up kids' childhoods, you know. I told my son ‘unfortunately you’re not going to the park today.’”
This unfortunately was not the only violent crime Alvarez has been in close proximity to in the area. She happened to witness the aftermath of the 16-year-old boy who was jumped and stabbed near the Kingsbridge armory earlier this year.
Alvarez criticized police for putting police cars in the area only after the shooting. She said they are well aware that the nearby area is a drug spot and common place to drink.
“And now, now we have a police officer there. Now? That’s a school zone,” Alvarez said.
She mentioned how moped drivers in the area cover their faces and you can’t tell who is or isn’t doing an Uber delivery. A lot of mopeds that do Uber deliveries in the area park in the McDonald's nearby and allegedly drink while waiting for orders, Alvarez said.
“The cops aren’t doing (crap) about it. The cops ain’t doing nothing. The mopeds shouldn’t be in here,” Alvarez said.
She hopes that there will be more cops stationed in the area the next time she goes.
Both of the men on the moped were caught on surveillance cameras wearing all black and masks.
Police are offering a $3,500 reward to anyone with information regarding the shooting that took place within the confines of the 52nd Precinct. Anyone with information is asked to call the NYPD’s Crime Stoppers Hotline at (800) 577-8477, or go to CrimeStoppers.nypdonline.org.