Detective Bill Flaherty said 21-year-old Sabrina Moreno was shot in the neck and killed as she was walking to dinner with her boyfriend and a friend Friday evening, October 5, in East New York.
Moreno was described by friends and family as being full of laugh and exciting.
"They all loved her," mom Silma Jones said. "That's why I was surprised this happened to my daughter. What could she have done that was so bad you take her life?"
Moreno, her boyfriend and a new friend were walking down the 300 block of Van Siclen Avenue when witnesses said a man approached them from behind and started firing from about 15 to 20 feet away.
Witnesses said the shooter then hopped into a white SUV and fled the scene.
"When they took my daughter's life, they took mine too," Jones said. "I forgive them for what they did, but please make it right. Come forward and do what's right."
Moreno was 18 when she left her hometown of Rochester, New York, to follow her dream of living in New York City.
Jones said she was close to her daughter, but that after the shooting, she realized Moreno had kept things from her. She said Moreno had left an abusive ex-boyfriend and ended up in a shelter, and she pleaded guilty to a purse-snatching earlier this year and had written a letter of apology to the victim and received probation, according to the Manhattan District Attorney's Office.
"She was very remorseful for that," Jones said. "She called me and apologized and said she was so sorry. She said she didn't mean to do it and got caught up with the wrong people."
Jones said Moreno was recently getting on the "right track" and had found a job and met someone new.
"We were all once 18, and we wanted to try to make it on our own and didn't want our parents to worry," Jones said. "I believe that's what she was doing."
Initially, law enforcement sources told Eyewitness News that the murder could be connected to an abusive ex-boyfriend. The public also speculated about whether the purse-snatching Moreno was on probation for could have given way to other risky behavior.
Flaherty said the investigation had taken detectives in a different direction, and they are now looking at whether someone else was the intended target of the shooting.
"It could have been another person she was with that they wanted," Flaherty said.
Eyewitness News obtained surveillance video of a man detectives and witnesses said matches the description of the shooter.
Flaherty said that man was also captured by surveillance video getting into a white SUV just before the shooting that matched the shooter's getaway car.
"We think that the public would have knowledge about what happened which is why we definitely want their help," Flaherty said. "I have daughters of my own, and if this was my daughter, I would want it solved."
Police hope the public can help identify the man seen in the surveillance video. He is described by police as black with a slim build and wearing brown pants, a black T-shirt and a Howard Bison ball cap.
The video is from the day of the shooting and was obtained from a store on the 700 block of Blake Avenue about a half-mile from where Moreno was killed.
The man seen in the video is wanted for questioning in connection with Moreno's murder.
"I miss my daughter and for someone to take her life like that that is so senseless," Jones said, begging anyone with information to come forward. "No parent should have to bury their children, no parent."
Anyone with information in regards to this incident is asked to call the NYPD's Crime Stoppers Hotline at 1-800-577-TIPS (8477) or for Spanish, 1-888-57-PISTA (74782). The public can also submit their tips by logging onto the Crime Stoppers website at NYPDCrimeStoppers.com, on Twitter @NYPDTips, or by texting their tips to 274637 (CRIMES) then enter TIP577.
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