The man believed to be responsible for the deadly shooting of a 10-year-old Queens boy over the weekend was arrested and in police custody, three senior law enforcement officials told NBC New York.
Jovan Young was arrested on Tuesday police said. The 29-year-old Queens resident was charged with murder, attempted murder, assault and two counts of criminal possession of a weapon. Police said that Young walked into the stationhouse Tuesday night and confessed to the murder.
Young was questioned earlier about the shooting, claiming he was in a rental car linked to the incident but not involved in the shooting itself, according to two law enforcement sources, before changing his story. He also allegedly told police he would help find the shooter.
Police were still uncertain of a motive, and said Young was not a member of a gang. They said that he does have previous offenses, but none were considered "serious."
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New York City Mayor tweeted about the arrest afterward, saying "Justin Wallace should have turned 11 today. he should have spent today celebrating with his friends and family. If you shoot and kill in New York City, you will be caught. you will be arrested. You will be held accountable."
After reviewing evidence including surveillance video at a car rental business, Young was confronted and later changed his story, law enforcement sources said. One source said police had also recovered a gun, but it was too soon to know if it was the weapon used in the shooting.
Justin Wallace was shot and killed while at a family barbecue Saturday night, police said. Video shows the gunman arrive in an SUV around 9:30 p.m. at the home on Beach 45th Street in Edgemere, where police said Justin was with his 29-year-old uncle. The shooter stops at the front steps and fires into the house, the video shows, and then takes off.
The 10-year-old was hit in the chest and pronounced dead a short time later at a nearby hospital. His uncle was hit in his shoulder and taken to Jamaica Hospital where he was recovering. Wallace's was downstairs in the home at the time of the shooting.
Justin's parents met with top NYPD brass on Monday, while neighbors were still trying to process the killing they said doesn't make any sense.
"It's just heartbreaking for me, and I just felt like I needed to come pay some respects to the family," said Tiffany Lee, who lives in the neighborhood.
Friends of Justin's put together a small memorial in his honor outside the Queens home where the boy was killed. Left there was a shirt that read "Justin for life," along with birthday balloons and a dark green toy dinosaur tied to a fence.
Police previously said they believe the fight was over a shared driveway, which led to gunfire. Justin would have turned 11 years old on Tuesday, and was set to graduate from Challenge Prep Charter School Thursday. Instead, he was simply at the wrong place at the wrong time, and was killed in an act of violence.
His family lives several blocks away, a home where Commissioner Dermot Shea and Chief of Community Affairs Jeff Maddrey visited on Monday to speak with the family.
"I can't imagine what they are going through. To me, this is the most important thing you do. We are really all in this together as New Yorkers," Shea said.
"We can't lose any more children. Our babies are dying," said Maddrey. "We have to come together as a city and deal with this."
Justin's death comes amid rising concerns of gun violence affecting children across the city. Hours before the deadly shooting, police say a 12-year-old girl was shot in the ankle in the Mount Eden section of the Bronx. No arrests have been made in that incident.
“The NYPD has made record numbers of gun arrests this year and we continue to focus with precision policing on precincts with disproportionate gun violence," an NYPD spokesperson said in reaction to recent shootings. "The key to having an effect is for prosecutors and courts to ensure that those arrested with guns see real consequences.”
The number of shootings in the city is up 77 percent through the end of May. As a result in that jump, the city on Tuesday announced it was taking new action to stop gun violence.
Mayor Bill de Blasio announced an unprecedented program between the NYPD and federal Bureau of Alcohol, Firearms, and Tobacco (ATF) called the Gun intelligence Center. The goal of the initiative is to identify gun traffickers, smuggling routes, outlets, and enhance gun arrests as the city tries to tackle the rising numbers.
"We talk about tray bullets. There are no stray bullets — there are stray dogs but every bullet has an owner, and that's the person who fired that shot," said NYPD Deputy Commissioner of Intelligence and Counterterrorism John Miller. :Those are our targets in the city."
The NYPD says it has already made a record number of gun arrests this year — more than the department has seen in the last 25 years.