What to Know
Gunfire erupted near a strip mall in the Bronx before 10 a.m. Thursday; a woman and two men were shot and all three of them died
Police say the men, who were shot in the head, appear to have been the intended targets; the woman may have been a bystander
Witnesses described running for cover under park benches amid the hail of bullets on what was otherwise a quiet morning in the neighborhood
A woman and two men died when a gunman opened fire outside a diner near a Bronx strip mall in broad daylight Thursday, sending bystanders running for cover under park benches on an otherwise quiet morning in the neighborhood, police and witnesses tell News 4.
Police say the 45-year-old woman, identified as Arileida Jimenez, was shot in the torso as gunfire erupted outside a diner near a small strip mall housing a 99 cent store, pharmacy and deli near Randall and Castle Hill avenues around 9:45 a.m. Police said 33-year-old Mustafa Tarver was shot in the head; another 33-year-old man, Christopher Alleyne, also shot in the head, and witnesses said he ran a block away before he dropped to the ground.
Witnesses said Jiminez may have been outside at a table signing people up for health initiatives, but police haven't confirmed that.
Christina Aguilera, who was working at the diner, said Tarver was a regular customer and had just been in there to use the bathroom minutes before he was killed. She walked out to see chaos, blood and a woman screaming.
"She was crying, she was saying, 'No, why me,'" Aguilera recounted. "I don't know if she said 'my son,' but I know she was crying like if that was her son."
Authorities say the suspected shooter was last seen wearing dark clothes and running toward Randall Avenue. No possible motive has been discussed, but police say the male victims appear to have been the targets. Cops have some surveillance video and are canvassing the area for more; they also ask that anyone who witnessed the chaos come forward.
News 4 cameras showed a huge law enforcement response in the area shortly after the shooting. Yellow caution tape cordoned off the parking lot of the strip mall area. Later, witnesses described chilling moments as bullets flew.
"What would you think, man, I was ducking under the bench!" said one witness when News 4 asked him about the gunfire. "Of course it's scary."
Other witnesses described the sound of gunfire as eerie and jarring amid what was otherwise a very quiet and peaceful morning in the neighborhood. There wasn't even any vehicular noise at the time of the shooting, one man said.
"You just heard gunshots going off, that's all you heard," he said, adding each shot was heard so clearly that he thought only one gun must have been used.
The man, who says he had been out getting breakfast, was at the corner when he heard the gunfire. He says he stopped in his tracks -- then saw one wounded victim on the sidewalk in one place, another victim in another spot, a woman trying to compress the wound to prevent him from bleeding out.
A resident in a nearby housing development said she was friends with the three victims.
"It hurts. These are my close friends," said Maria Nunez. "I don't remember them having problems."