Two arrests have been made in the death of a 61-year-old Bronx grandmother who was shot in the back when she inadvertently found herself in the middle of a gunfight on her way home from work earlier this week, authorities said Friday.
One suspect has been identified as Donald Johnson. He has prior arrests, but those are sealed. The other suspect was identified as Rakell Hampton, though little was immediately known about him.
Johnson, 20, and Hampton, 33, both face charges of murder, manslaughter and criminal possession of a weapon. Attorney information for either man was not immediately known.
The arrests come days after disturbing surveillance video released by police showed Juana Esperanza Soriano De-Perdomo dive for cover as she tried to avoid the gunfire Monday night.
She was walking on the sidewalk when a group of men got into a fight and started firing just after 7 p.m., police said. Her family said that she decided to stop at a grocery store near the intersection of East 188th Street and Creston Avenue in the Fordham Heights neighborhood just as the bullets started flying.
A different angle of the surveillance video shows four men who were behind Perdomo get into an argument, and then pull out their guns. She appears to dive for cover in a doorway, but she had already been struck once in the back by a bullet.
A stranger was seen trying to help her, but was unable to save her. She was brought to St. Barnabas Hospital where she was pronounced dead.
A relative said that the victim was new to the area, having moved out of public housing in the South Bronx after her husband died of COVID. She had been looking for a safer place to live, the family member said.
At the scene of the shooting a day later, prayers were offered at a vigil for the beloved grandmother Tuesday night, as family members were overcome with grief. Her sons were in shock, tearing up and in pain.
"You just took a grandmother. A mother, she’s my mother!" son Victor Perdomo said. "If you don’t know how to fight with your damn five fingers, I don’t know how you feel like you’re a gangster...They took her! They took her from me!"
The grief was overwhelming at times, as this family is now desperate for justice — just as the community is desperate for safe streets.
“My mother was a beautiful person. She was receiving blessings on blessings these last couple of months until it was taken away, cold hearted. For no reason," said son Erick Perdomo.
The suspects, four men, took off on foot down Creston Avenue after the shooting.
Four bullet casings were recovered at the scene.
It's not clear what the dispute was about but Johnson and Hampton are the only ones arrested so far. It wasn't clear if either had attorneys as of early Friday afternoon.