Police, Family Look for Answers in Deadly Harlem Gun Battle

One fatality during the early morning violence

By Glenn Zimmerman
|  Monday, Aug 9, 2010  |  Updated 12:49 PM EDT
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Harlem Block Party Turns Deadly

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Angel Alvarez is accused of shooting 22-year-old Luis Soto.

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Harlem Block Party Turns Deadly

Seven people were shot -- one fatally -- when gunfire erupted last night in Harlem. Two officers were among those wounded.
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Police are still trying to piece together events after a block party in Harlem turned violent yesterday morning, escalating into a gunfight that left one man dead and six wounded, including a police officer shot by a colleague in the hail of 40 to 50 bullets, authorities said.

The man accused of starting the violence, Angel Alvarez, remains hospitalized after being shot at least 20 times, his attorney and family told NBCNewYork.
    
The gunfire erupted at about 3 a.m. Sunday in Harlem, where two men had been arguing over a girl, police Commissioner Raymond Kelly said.
     
That's when Alvarez pulled a gun and fatally shot the other man, 22-year-old Bronx resident Luis Soto, police said.

“Angel Alvarez, we believe, shot the individual he was arguing with on the west side of Lenox Avenue and then fired at the approaching police officers," Police Commissioner Ray Kelly said.
    
Five officers responded to the scene, and the gunman fired at them, Kelly said. Four of the five officers fired back, in a barrage of more than three dozen shots. The gunman was hit multiple times and later was hospitalized in critical but stable condition, police said.
    
Two of the officers were shot. Officer Michael Tedeschi was shot in the chest area, but the bullet, which came from another officer's gun, hit his bullet-resistant vest.
    
When asked how one officer could have ended up in another's line of fire, police spokesman Paul Browne attributed it to the confusion of the event.
    
"Officers were converging from different units in a tumultuous situation," he said.
    
Tedeschi, 36, was expected to fully recover. The other shot officer, Alfredo Vargas, 28, was hit in a hand and was expected to be fine.
    
Three other people were hospitalized in stable condition with gunshot wounds. Two other officers suffered minor injuries.

Alvarez was reportedly struck by 23 bullets total -- which may be a record for surviving. His family said he's been wrongly accused.

"I don’t believe that my brother had a weapon on him, the suspect's sister, Christina Creer told NBCNewYork.  "He’s not that type of person to carry a weapon outside on the streets.  He had no access to weapons, he’s just not that type of guy," she said.
 

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