A 17-year-old boy turned himself in early Tuesday to face charges of shooting two young teenagers in East Harlem, killing one who was from New Jersey and wounding the other, police said.
The motive for the shooting is still unclear, but detectives are looking into the possibility that the shooter mistakenly believed the victims were part of a gang, law enforcement sources said.
The teenager was charged with murder and attempted murder after turning himself in to the 25th Precinct police station on Tuesday morning, accompanied by his mother and two attorneys from Neighborhood Defender Services in Harlem. The Daily News does not print his name because he is underage.
Damon Streeter, the heartbroken father of 14-year-old Justin Streeter, said he did not recognize the suspect’s name.
“I don’t know why he would shoot them,” he told the Daily News on Tuesday. “I am very grateful that the police, they were able to make an arrest. I counted the days and it’s been a week. That’s the healing part for me right now.
On July 19, Justin and his 15-year-old best friend stepped out of a bodega on E. 128 St. near Park Ave. in East Harlem around 4:20 p.m. As the young boy was riding a scooter, a gunman fired multiple times. gunfire, police said.
The boys tried to dodge the bullets, seeking shelter between parked cars, but Justin was shot in the head and his friend was shot in the leg. The shooter — dressed in a gray sweater and blue jeans — took off on foot on E. 128 St. toward Madison Ave., cops said.
Nine casings were recovered from the scene, police said.
Both teenagers were rushed to a hospital in Harlem, where Justin died hours later.
“I’m just trying to be here and stay strong in the moment as much as possible for my family and my kids,” Justin’s dad said Tuesday.
The suspect was previously arrested last month for sexual misconduct, sources said.
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He was sentenced to detention without bond in a brief arraignment on Monday evening and was due back in court next Monday when a judge decides whether the case should go to family court because of his age. .
Surveillance footage recovered from the scene shows the shooter with a gun drawn. He shot Justin and his friend as he crossed E. 128th St. at Park Ave., according to the criminal complaint.
During a surveillance camera investigation of the area, cops tracked the shooter’s movements for about a mile until he entered a building at the King Towers NYCHA complex on W. 115th St. He was wearing the same clothes as in the shooting but his head and face were now uncovered.
An NYPD Housing officer patrolling the King Towers identified the shooter, prosecutors said.
Justin lived with his family in Plainfield, NJ, but visited the Old Quarter for the day, staying with his grandparents while his parents worked in the city.
Although having left New York, Damon Streeter had not completely cut ties with the city, which he regrets today.
“I tend to blame myself, because I was still working in town and my wife was still working in town,” he said, thinking back to his murdered son. “In his 14 years, he lived a happy life as a child.”