The killing in the Bronx was a crime committed among the young.
The shots that fatally struck Kyhara Tay, 11, on Monday afternoon were fired by a 15-year-old boy, according to the police.
Too young to even helm the motorized scooter on which he rode, the boy was being driven by an 18-year-old who had already twice been the victim of gun violence.
The intended target, who had ducked into a nearby entryway for cover, was 13.
In Friday’s early morning hours, the 15-year-old was arrested in a hotel room and charged with firing the bullets that struck Kyhara, a bubbly sixth grader known as Kyky, who had been walking on Fox Street in borough’s Longwood section.
The suspect “ended the life of a totally innocent, completely uninvolved 11-year-old girl,” Commissioner Keechant Sewell said at a news conference where she announced that the boy would be charged with murder. “I won’t say she was in the wrong place, because why shouldn’t an 11-year-old child be able to stand outside in broad daylight?”
The teenage suspect was riding as a passenger on a motorized scooter on Monday afternoon, according to law enforcement officials and video released by detectives. He and the scooter’s 18-year-old driver, Omar Bojang, were chasing another boy, 13, who fled north on Fox Street and then ducked into a building entryway to evade his pursuers, police officials said.
As the scooter flew past, the 13-year-old could be seen on surveillance footage darting the opposite direction. The police say the suspect then turned backward on the scooter, and began firing indiscriminately at his fleeing target. A stray bullet struck Kyhara, who was on her way to visit family. She was hit in the abdomen and taken in critical condition to Lincoln Hospital, where she died.
Investigators identified the suspect and Mr. Bojang through video surveillance, and were able to track the 15-year-old to a hotel in the Parkchester section of the Bronx in the early hours of Friday morning. He was found there with his mother and three other children, law enforcement officials said. The family, who does not live at the hotel, had checked into the room that night.
Mr. Bojang remained at large on Friday.
The killing is emblematic of what law enforcement and city officials say is a gun violence crisis afflicting the city’s youth. Both Mr. Bojang and the boy accused in the shooting had previously been victims of crime — Mr. Bojang, at 18, had been shot twice in the past two years.
“Eleven, 15, 18. Over and over again, we’re seeing 11, 15, 18,” said Mayor Eric Adams at a press conference on Friday. “Kids killing kids.”
Kyhara joins a grim roster of children who have fallen victim as New York City’s shooting rates rise, showing little sign of slowing after increasing sharply during the pandemic’s early days. In January, an 11-month-old baby was struck while sitting in a parked car with her mother in the Bronx; she was taken to the hospital in critical condition but returned home last week. In April, a 12-year-old boy, Kade Lewin, was fatally struck by a stray bullet in Brooklyn while sitting in a car with his mother, eating a meal.
In all, 16 children 16 years or younger have been shot in the Bronx so far this year; five of them were under 14, said Darcel Clark, the borough’s district attorney. In an anguished plea on Friday, she begged Bronx residents to help the police hold accountable those who perpetrate violence.
“We’re talking about a gunman who’s too young to be called a gunman,” she said.