Snapchat rivalry ends in Bronx playground shooting of 13-year-old
New York, New York - A 13-year-old boy wanted for shooting a rival his same age over a Snapchat feud was arrested after his mother saw a wanted poster and hauled him into an NYPD stationhouse in the Bronx, police said Wednesday.
The two boys had been sparring in messages to each other on the popular phone app, and on October 6 the suspect sent a message threatening to shoot the victim, police said.
The next day, the argument moved from online messages to the street, with the 4-foot-11, 110-pound teen allegedly shooting the victim in the left knee inside Hunts Point Playground about 5:35 PM EST, according to police.
"You just shake your head," NYPD Commissioner Dermot Shea said on WPIX-TV Wednesday morning. "It's terrible all the way around. We have to do better as a society."
EMS took the victim to Harlem Hospital in stable condition.
The teen shooter ran off but was captured on surveillance video, gun in hand. A second suspect, still being sought, also appears on the video, clad in a red sweatshirt and riding his bike behind the shooter, police said.
"No winners with gun violence"
Cops released the video Sunday and asked the public's help identifying the suspect, known to police by his nickname Chulo, and tracking him down.
The suspect's mother saw a wanted poster with her son's image on it, police said.
She took him to the 41st Precinct stationhouse Tuesday afternoon, where she turned him in and asked for a lawyer, police said.
The suspect was charged with attempted murder, assault and harassment. His name was not released because he is a minor.
Police said the teen shooter was processed through family court and returned to his mother’s custody.
Shea said that the NYPD has been trying to get to children "before they get into the violence" but more needs to be done.
"What do you do with a 13-year-old in this circumstance?" Shea asked. "There is no right answer. The courts will figure it out and you hope. You feel for the victim, but you also think about the side of the family of the child that pulled the trigger here. There are no winners."
"That's the message – there's no winners with gun violence," he added. "So we all have to do more to make sure that these incidents go on a steep, steep, rapid decline."
Amanda Palermo (30) said she heard the shots.
"I was sitting right next to the basketball court. Four shots," she said. "A bunch of kids came and then all you heard was four shots and he got shot in his leg."
She said the boy fell to the ground and the shooter dashed off.
"When that happened the other kids in the park ran away," she said. "The only ones that stayed were [the victim’s] friends."
The incident unnerved parents in the area.
"Last year, they stole my son's bike," a local mother said. "I called the police and they never came."
She said parents have to take more responsibility.
"These boys have been making this a violent area," she said, adding that one of the boys punched her son in the stomach during the robbery.
"These young boys know that the police will never come" she said. "It's a huge problem. And as an adult, I can’t do anything against minors."
A setback in efforts to improve the area
Local parents say the suspect and his crew have slashed tires of cars, thrown beer bottles at mothers and scared little kids with threatening looks. One of the menacing boys has a black dog that he sics on smaller kids, they said.
"They're really aggressive," one of the mothers said. "They're always alone, they're never with their parents. One time we asked about their parents and they laughed at us."
Scared neighbors said there are also mischievous girls who egg the boys on to fight.
The parents said one of the boys flashed a knife when they threatened to call the cops but they were unaware of any of the boys carrying guns.
Michael Greene (63) a painter who has lived in the neighborhood since the 1960s, said locals have been working to improve the area. He said the shooting doesn't help.
"It was kind of disturbing, a 13-year-old shooting a 13-year-old in a public park," Greene said. "This neighborhood is trying to clean up and it's like we're right back where we started."
Greene praised the mother who turned in her own son.
"Well, that was a good thing," Greene said. "That's what parents are supposed to do. The kids, they so-called don't want to snitch."
"I feel for the young kid because he’s so young," Greene said of the suspect. "He’s got his whole life in front of him and you’re making decisions like that. You’re supposed to run around, play fighting, playing PlayStation, eating candy. Not doing stuff like that."
Cover photo: Collage: 123RF/elwynn & screenshot/Twitter/NYPD Crime Stoppers