Police Arrest Suspect in Case of Stray Bullet That Killed NYC Mom

The arrest comes just days after the offer of a $10,000 reward for information leading to the arrest and conviction of the shooter

NBC Universal, Inc.

New York City police arrested a man in connection with the shooting death of a 43-year-old Queens mother killed by a stray bullet inside her home on Wednesday.

Police say 31-year-old Issam Elabbar of Queens was apprehended by officers Friday night and charged with murder, manslaughter, criminal possession of a loaded firearm and petit larceny. Officials say a Crime Stoppers tip aided detectives's search for Elabbar, who was scheduled to be arraigned Saturday.

The arrest comes just days after the offer of a $10,000 reward for information leading to the arrest and conviction of the shooter.

Bertha Arriaga's 14-year-old son called 911 after finding his mom unresponsive in their Jackson Heights apartment shortly before 1 a.m. Wednesday, officials said. She had been shot in the head, and there was an apparent bullet hole in the front window. A family member said that she was alive when her son found her, and he ran into the other room to wake his father up.

Arriaga's husband, Jorge, tried to perform CPR and do whatever he could to keep his wife alive, but she was pronounced dead at the scene.

Police released surveillance video Wednesday afternoon that showed two men, one of whom was later identified as Elabbar by Queens North Detective Borough Commanding Officer Julie Morrill. A cast visible on the video on Elabbar's left foot was a key identifying factor in their search to find the shooter, Morrill said on a call with reporters Saturday.

Police released surveillance video of two persons of interest sought in connection with the death of Bertha Arriaga.

The bullet apparently came through her front window from two men trying to steal a bike outside her building, according to authorities and emergency radio correspondence. The footage shows them working for quite some time to use an electric saw to unchain the bike; they make so much noise that people in the neighborhood take notice and it appears they fire a shot as they exit.

Detectives say they believe the duo are part of a crew that has been stealing bikes in the area. Crime has increased in the area 4 percent over last year, lead in part by petit larceny jumping nearly 25 percent.

"As good as our detectives are, they couldn't have done it alone," Morrill said. "The Jackson Heights community came forward in an extremely meaningful way on behalf of the vicim, providing vital information."

Morrill confirmed no other suspects were being sought in connection with the homicide investigation.

Attorney information for Elabbar was not immediately known.

Contact Us