The man accused of gunning down a 24-year-old last June and firing bullets that narrowly missed two children walking down a Bronx sidewalk has pleaded guilty to attempted murder, the Bronx district attorney said Friday.
Michael Lopez, 28, was arrested June 25 following a weeklong manhunt for the gunman caught on dramatic surveillance video in a broad daylight shooting. The terrifying video drew national attention as New York City grappled with rising gun violence, which has caught a growing number of children in its crosshairs.
Bronx District Attorney Darcel Clark announced that Lopez pleaded guilty to attempted murder in the second-degree before Bronx Supreme Court Justice Ralph Fabrizio. In early March, Lopez will be sentenced to 15 years in prison.
“The defendant went up to a Bronx man and fired a dozen shots. A 13-year-old girl and her five-year-old brother on their way to a store were caught between the defendant and his target. Images of the helpless, terrified children, who held one another as the hail of bullets flew next to them, shocked the city and the world," Clark said.
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In his plea on Friday, Lopez reportedly admitted to having a gun and shooting the 24-year-old victim with the intent to kill him, Clark said. Contact information for Lopez's legal defense was not immediately known.
"This plea will spare the children from testifying in court and reliving the trauma," the district attorney added.
Following his arrest, top police officials said Lopez was picked up in Harlem at his step father's house. A Harlem resident himself, police said Lopez has a history of arrests for violent crimes including attempted murder in 2014.
Lopez has five prior arrests and was on parole for the attempted murder arrest, Chief of Detectives James Essig said. His most recent arrest was last January, in 2020, for robbery at knifepoint, Essig added.
Essig and former Commissioner Dermot Shea also identified Lopez as a member of the Make It Happen Boys gang.
The children — a 13- and 5-year-old sister and brother who were just steps away from their home — somehow avoided being shot as the gunman opened fire on his intended target, a gang member, according to police. The target scrambled to escape the gunfire, falling on top of the kids as the hitman fired off a dozen rounds.
The victim was struck in the leg and back and was taken to a nearby hospital, police said. Amazingly, the two children were not struck by any of the bullets, and were physically unharmed. But their parents say the harrowing ordeal has taken a psychological toll.
"My kids are traumatized, whenever they hear a noise outside they start shaking and get really nervous," the father of the children said in Spanish while speaking to reporters in the lobby of the family's apartment building, across the street from the bodega.
The 13-year-old girl had taken her younger brother to buy candy at the store when the chaos erupted. Their mother said they don't know the shooter or the victim.
"The kids were not with those people. The kids were just in the bodega buying something," the mother said.
What can be seen on the video is the older sister trying to protect her little brother, shielding him from the danger.
"I'm not sure what it takes to get the key to the city, but I nominate her," said NYPD Chief of Detectives Rodney Harrison. "But I will say this, I'm very optimistic ... we do have some good leads."