A witness cries out as one of two fatally shot men lies bleeding at a Bronx strip mall on Thursday.
Three people were killed in a barrage of gunfire near a strip mall in the Bronx on the first day of summer Thursday — and the victims apparently include an innocent bystander, police said.
The mayhem erupted on Castle Hill Avenue between Cincinnatus and Randall avenues nearby NYCHA’s Castle Hill Houses at about 9:45 a.m., sending fearful bystanders ducking for cover.
Victims Mustafa Tarver and Christopher AlleynFacebookThe gunman walked toward two of the victims, identified by sources as Mustafa Tarver, 33, and Christopher Alleyne, 33, “and began firing at them,” said NYPD Bronx Assistant Chief of Detectives Jason Wilcox.
The shooter, who remains at large, “fired several shots from in front of 620 Castle Hill Avenue,” Wilcox said.
Police on Thursday night released a grainy image of a person of interest — a man in shorts, a blue shirt or sweater and a black baseball cap.Tarver and Alleyne, who locals said were “best friends” and fathers who lived at the Castle Hill Houses, suffered gunshot wounds to the head. Law enforcement sources said Tarver was the gunman’s intended target.The third victim, identified by sources as Arileida Jimenez, 45, also of the Castle Hill Houses, was shot in the torso.
“It appears as if she might be an innocent bystander, but the investigation is very early in its stages,” said Wilcox, adding that it was not immediately known what led up to the morning shooting.
All three victims were rushed to Jacobi Medical Center, where they were pronounced dead.
A witness said he was sitting in his car waiting for his mother-in-law before sudden gunfire erupted on the street.
“I heard six or seven shots. I thought it was fireworks until I heard someone screaming. They were screaming, ‘Oh my God, no, no, no!,’” said the witness who would only identify himself as Mark, 52.
Multiple witnesses said they saw Jimenez sitting at a Healthfirst insurance table set up outside the Mannam Medical Center before the shooting. It was not immediately known whether she worked for either entity.
“She had nothing to do with [the shooting]. She just got shot — caught in the crossfire,” Mark said.
Mark said he saw one of the victims run down the street bleeding before collapsing in front of a parked Honda SUV.
“He was spitting up blood. Blood was pouring out of him,” Mark said. “He ran and fell where the blood is. He was pouring out blood on the sidewalk.”Mark, who knew the victim from the neighborhood, called him “the nicest guy. I never saw him bother anyone.”Christina Aguilera, 25, a waitress at the nearby Shore Haven Diner, said that one of the men, who was a regular at the diner, was gunned down moments after leaving the eatery after using the bathroom.
The scene of a shooting that killed three people in the Bronx on Thursday.Brigitte Stelzer“He came in, asked me to use the bathroom. After he was done, he walked out and got shot dead right in front of the diner,” said Aguilera, who noted that she had come out of the diner right behind the man to return a bracelet to another customer.
“He looked lifeless,” said Aguilera, who said she also works as an EMT. “He was laying on the ground. The artery in his neck was shooting blood out onto the ground.”
Aguilera, who just started working at the diner three weeks ago, said: “There was a lady who jumped on top of him screaming: ‘Why, why, why, no, no!’ It looked like it could be his mother.”
Following the shooting, the gunman, wearing dark clothes, fled on foot toward Randall Avenue and police were searching a building at the Castle Hill Houses for him.
Authorities say they have surveillance footage that “paints a picture of what occurred with the shooting” and they are actively looking for more.
Police were also looking into whether the shooting was gang-related, sources said.