Teen accused of shooting tourist in Times Square and firing at officer arrested after search
A 15-year-old accused of shooting a Brazilian tourist in the leg in Times Square Thursday night, then firing at a police officer while fleeing, was arrested just outside of New York City on Friday, police officials said.
The teenager was taken into custody at a residential house that police believe may be linked to a family member in Yonkers nearly 24 hours after the shooting that began in a sporting goods store and spilled out onto the bustling streets of Midtown Manhattan.
At a press conference announcing the arrest Friday evening, New York City Police Commissioner Edward Caban said it was an “actual miracle” that no one was seriously injured in the shooting.
“In the middle of the busiest, most highly trafficked part of this city, a criminal with a firearm decided to pull the trigger,” Caban said.
Hours before, police identified the suspect as a resident of a migrant shelter in Manhattan 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 in all white, and two teenage classmates were shoplifting 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 back the merchandise. That’s when the teenager allegedly pulled out a .45 caliber handgun and fired at her. The bullet missed the worker but grazed a 38-year-old tourist in line to buy a pair of sneakers.
The shooter and one of the other teens with him then ran off into the busy tourist hub. Four blocks away on 47th Street — near a triangular Times Square pedestrian plaza where visitors line up to buy Broadway tickets and snap selfies with the area’s iconic billboards — two officers quickly spotted the pair and took the second person into custody.
The shooter fled toward 6th Avenue with one of the officers giving chase, at one point cutting between buildings. There, he turned and fired at the officer, police said.
“Our officer draws his weapon. He cannot fire,” NYPD Chief of Patrol John Chell said at a news conference Thursday evening. “Too many people around, there’s too many people ducking.”
The teen fired again from under his arm and continued to flee, running into a subway station. Surveillance video showed him going to the tracks and emerging back onto the street, Chell said.
It’s unclear if the teen has an attorney or someone who can speak on his behalf. Prosecutors didn’t immediately respond to a request Friday evening for attorney contact information.
On Friday morning, police apprehended a third suspect, who is 16. Investigators are still working to determine the role of the two people alleged to have entered the store with the shooter.
Police said they spoke to hundreds of people and obtained strong surveillance photos of the alleged shooter leading up to his arrest Friday afternoon.
In an interview with NBC, the tourist, Tatiele Ribeiro Lemos, recalled the “scary moment” when she realized she had been shot.
“I started checking myself then looked at my leg and saw blood dripping down, but I was able to stay calm,” she said in Portuguese. “I believe this was just an unfortunate incident, it could have happened anywhere in the world.”
She received 13 stitches for the wound at a local hospital, according to the NBC report.
The shooting comes on the heels of another high-profile incident in Times Square involving a brawl between migrants and police officers.
Overall, crime rates have plummeted in New York City since a spike at the height of the COVID-19 pandemic. The number of people shot in the city dropped 39% from 2022 to 2023.
Once one of the seediest places in New York, synonymous with pornographic theaters and sex work, Times Square experienced a revitalization in the 1990s that transformed it into one of the city’s most family-friendly destinations. On most evenings, it is packed with tourists and street performers, though it also still attracts pickpockets and hustlers who take advantage of out-of-towners.
Chell said Times Square remains safe to visitors.
“Take a look around you, thousands of people shopping and walking around,” he said. “We are still the safest city in the world.”