While it’s typically not as violent as other parts of the Bronx, another bloody weekend in Kingsbridge proved the 5-0 still isn’t immune to deadly crime.
Police arrested Jose Quinones, 49, a resident of Bridgeport, Connecticut, late Sunday in connection with the shooting death of Juan Flores the day before.
They had been called just before 7:30 a.m., on Saturday, to 2856 Webb Ave., for a man who had been shot in the back. There first responders found Flores, 49, unconscious and unresponsive.
He was taken to St. Barnabas Hospital on Third Avenue, where he later died.
Quinones was charged with murder, manslaughter and criminal possession of a loaded firearm.
Flores had been living in the building with a woman reported to be Quinones’ ex-girlfriend, 50th Precinct commanding officer Terence O’Toole said. Meanwhile, relations between Quinones and Flores — who reportedly knew each other from a substance abuse counseling program — had turned frosty.
Quinones stayed with a friend living in the building the previous night, according to police, and spotted Flores that Saturday morning leaving to walk a dog. It was a dog, O’Toole said, which had previously belonged to Quinones.
Returning from his walk some 20 minutes later, Flores found Quinones toting what appeared to be a duffel bag, O’Toole said, waiting for him on the first-floor staircase. After a brief altercation, Flores turned toward the elevator. Quinones pulled out a sawed-off shotgun from the bag and shot Flores in the back before dashing out the front door, police said.
Quinones turned himself in at the 50th Precinct on Sunday night.
“He was very forthcoming,” O’Toole said. “I don’t know what his reason was, but he knew we were looking for him.”
Quinones has crossed paths with the law in the past, O’Toole said, including spending time in state prison for drug sales. His record, however, is “not lengthy.”
But other than his reported history of domestic violence as well as a robbery more than 30 years ago, O’Toole says there’s little to suggest Quinones would gun a guy down.
“It’s a big step,” the deputy inspector said. “To pull out a shotgun on somebody is kind of hardcore. There’s something a little more to this story. We might never figure out what the real motivation is. Something must’ve snapped in him.”
Police are investigating the shotgun’s whereabouts, O’Toole said, although Quinones claims he destroyed it.
In Monday’s blistering midday heat, few roamed the tree-lined street as water dripped from window-mounted air conditioners forming puddles on the sidewalk.
Inside 2856 Webb, dim lights cast a dreary glow on a dirty tiled floor. A blood-red handprint on the wall in the area where the shooting reportedly occurred hinted at sinister events — although O’Toole couldn’t confirm the handprint belonged to Flores, or whether it’s actually blood.
A woman who’s lived in the building five years — who didn’t want to give her name out of fear for her safety — was stunned upon hearing the news.
“I’m going to go to my room and lock the door,” she said. “Nothing has ever happened here. I’m in shock.”
As are her neighbors.
“They’re more than neighbors,” she said. “They’re really friends. They’re very kind, very respectful. It’s always been a quiet place. I feel, always, very safe.”
The news, however, shattered her sense of security.
“It’s very sad,” she said. “I hate to feel in fear. It’s not a nice way to live.”
Troy Bertrand, facility manager at the Our Lady of Angels church next door, said the neighborhood has become safer in the 13 years he’s worked there, but there’s still plenty of room for improvement.
“The neighborhood has its history of violence,” Bertrand said. “We’ve seen a lot of shootings here.”
Drugs and prostitution also plagued the area.
“In the mornings, I would come and I would see a whole bunch of needles, empty packets and drug paraphernalia,” Bertrand said. “The place was littered with used condoms,” while broken car windows evinced a pattern of theft.
“It’s no longer like that,” Bertrand said, with crime “slowly declining” over the past five to eight years, and police requesting footage from the church’s surveillance system far less frequently.
Saturday’s murder marks the third homicide in the 50th Precinct this year, after two people were killed over separate incidents involving both guns and knives during a single weekend in April, in Kingsbridge Heights and Marble Hill.
“The city has become much more violent,” O’Toole said. “These people all knew each other. If there’s problems in your relationship with somebody, we have to know about it. If we don’t know about it, there’s nothing much we can do.”
Still, O’Toole doesn’t see Saturday’s shooting as an indication of the borough’s spike in killings catching up to the 5-0. In fact, the 50th Precinct has been spared the worst of this year’s crime wave, O’Toole said, with 454 total crimes committed, compared with 520 last year at this time — a nearly 13 percent drop.
Its three murders are but a small fraction of the more than 50 committed in the rest of the borough, according to New York Police Department statistics.
“This is another aberration,” O’Toole said. “This person definitely had intentions to do some kind of harm to Mr. Flores. It certainly seemed he was dwelling on this for a time.”
Regardless, the shooting adds to a growing list of tragedies, and brings the 5-0 up to the same number of murders it saw in all of last year, with more than five months left — although, O’Toole noted, police have made arrests for each of this year’s homicides.
Still, none of that takes away from the pain and terror another death inflicts on a community, and on the person killed.
Flores, O’Toole said, probably “was in a lot of pain and anguish before he passed away. You get shot with a shotgun, that’s going to leave a mark, no matter what.”