15-year-old boy dies after being shot in head outside rec center in the Bronx

ByJanice Yu and Eyewitness News WABC logo
Saturday, January 21, 2023
Bronx communty heartbroken, outraged over shooting death of teen
Josue Lopez-Ortega, 15, died Friday after he and another teen were shot near the Police Athletic League's South Bronx Center on Thursday. CeFaan Kim has more on the community mourning the loss of the teen.

LONGWOOD, Bronx (WABC) -- A 15-year-old boy has died after he and his 16-year-old friend were shot near the Police Athletic League's South Bronx Center on Thursday.

They were leaving a sporting event, either a boxing match or a basketball game, on Longwood Avenue just before 9 p.m. when the shooting occurred.

Police say an unknown individual driving a gray Jeep Renegade parked on Beck Street and Longwood Avenue, exited the vehicle and ran across the street on foot before taking out a gun and firing it about three times into a group of people.

A bullet struck the 15-year-old, identified as Josue Lopez-Ortega, in the head. He died Friday afternoon at Lincoln Hospital.

The 16-year-old, who was shot in the leg, was treated for a graze wound and released on Friday.

Neither of the victims had any prior interaction with police.

Police have released images of the vehicle the suspect fled in. The car was last seen fleeing eastbound on Longwood Avenue.

With tears welled up in their eyes, high school classmates in the Bronx paid their respects to the young victim who was known for his kind heart and countless friends.

"He was my son's friend, and I just broke the news to my son because he didn't know," parent Yolanda Santoni said.

Detectives are proceeding on the investigative theory that the shooting stemmed from an earlier incident, possibly a prior fight, but the two teens shot were not the intended targets.

"These two children, my understanding is they're part of the foster system, there are already extreme challenges in their lives," said Raymond Arroyo, president of the 41st Precinct Council.

People in the neighborhood say the rec center is supposed to be a good resource for kids in the community and it's upsetting to hear something so violent happened right outside.

"This is where we want kids to come to after school, on the weekends to have a safe place to network with each other, to have fun, play games, learn," Bronx District Attorney Darcel Clark said. "To be able to have this kind to space but then come out and then have to deal with this kind of violence right outside this safe haven. It's very disturbing."

Janay Perkins is a basketball coach at the rec center and said the goal isn't just to teach kids sports, but to help keep them out of trouble.

"I have young guys on my team and I try to implement staying safe and making the right choices," Perkins said. "I don't want something like this to be the reason they don't want to do physical activity."

The double shooting is the latest involving teens that have happened throughout the city, including several in the Bronx.

A few days before this shooting, a 16-year-old was charged with attempted murder after an NYPD officer was shot in the arm.

On Wednesday, a 13-year-old was charged with shooting a 14-year-old girl and 16-year-old boy in Queens.

Just last month, a 14-year-old boy was shot and killed in Fordham Heights.

Police say the suspect in the most recent Bronx shooting fled from the scene and no arrests have been made.

Bronx Borough President Vanessa Gibson released a statement after the deadly shooting, saying the gun epidemic in NYC is far from over:

"Yesterday's shooting outside the Police Athletic League in Longwood that left one teen injured, and another mortally wounded, in addition to a school safety agent's discovery of weapons in a 13-year-old's backpack in Fordham Heights, makes it abundantly clear that the gun epidemic in New York City is far from over. Our children deserve to learn and recreate in safe environments. We are grateful to the brave student who voiced their concern and helped school safety agents recover the weapons, but our children should not have to be superheroes at school or fear being gunned down on the street. Guns have no place in our streets, and they certainly have no place in our educational facilities and recreational spaces. These incidents and so many others highlight the urgent need for us to stop the proliferation of guns in our neighborhoods. I also want to thank the incredible team at the Police Athletic League for their commitment and dedication to our youth. Community centers are safe spaces, and we will not accept any attempts to jeopardize or undermine their work."

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