Police in New York City have arrested a suspect in the cold-blooded murder of a 19-year-old Burger King cashier, who was gunned down after handing over $100 during a robbery earlier this week.
The NYPD on Friday announced that a ‘person of interest’ was in custody in connection with the Sunday morning killing of Kristal Bayron-Nieves.
A police spokesperson declined to release any additional information about the case, but unnamed NYPD sources with direct knowledge of the investigation revealed to NBC New York that the male suspect was apprehended in Brooklyn on Thursday night.
Two senior police officials told the news station that the suspect, who was said to be 30 years old, was caught after police reviewed surveillance video from the scene of the shooting in East Harlem.
Police have arrested an unidentified 30-year-old suspect in the killing of a 19-year-old Burger King cashier. Surveillance photo of the suspect is seen above
Kristal Bayron-Nieves, 19, was shot and killed while working a night shift at a Burger King last Sunday
Clothing seen on the suspect at the time of the killing was said to have been spotted on his social media pages, and witnesses helped confirm his identity, according to the police sources.
The murder suspect has a criminal history, but its extent is unknown at this time.
Bayron-Nieves’s family have been notified of the arrest, which came just hours after a candlelight vigil was held outside the Burger King at East 116th Street and Lexington Avenue, where the cashier was shot dead.
‘My family is actually excited that they caught [the suspect],’ Bayron-Nieves’ cousin, Shiming Nieves, said. ‘That’s not gonna bring her back or anything, but a little bit of relief and little by little we’re gonna be picking up the pieces, to get our family strong again.’
A $20,000 reward had been offered for information leading to an arrest, with half of that amount being put up by billionaire businessman John Catsimatidis, the CEO of the grocery store chain Gristedes.
Prior to Thursday’s arrest, Catsimatidis, 73, said he was ’emotionally distraught’ when he heard about the death of the Burger King worker.
‘This young woman lost her life over $100! I choked up,’ he told the New York Post on Tuesday.
Billionaire John Catsimatidis, 73, said he was ’emotionally distraught’ when he heard about the death of Bayron-Nieves and offered a $10,000 reward for anyone that helps with the ‘arrest and conviction of the killer’
The radio host and former Republican candidate for mayor posted an ad offering a ‘$10,000 reward for the arrest and conviction of Bayron-Nieves’ killer.
The fatal robbery occurred as New York City’s crime rate soars after newly-installed Manhattan District Attorney Alvin Bragg’s controversial decision to downgrade burglary, armed robbery and drug dealing from felonies to misdemeanors.
The number of robberies has since increased by 19.4 percent over the course of the last week, as compared to the same time last year.
Bayron-Nieves was working as a cashier at the fast-food chain when an armed robber entered the restaurant at around 1am.
The gunman pistol-whipped a male customer before punching a female manager in the face.
Bayron-Nieves, who just started the job three weeks ago, gave the robber $100 cash from the drawer, an eyewitness said, according to her mother.
Police offered a $10,000 reward to anyone with information
The criminal turned to leave, but turned around again and shot Bayron-Nieves in the torso.
The teen was transported to nearby Metropolitan Hospital, where she was pronounced dead.
‘She didn’t deserve to be mowed down while working at a Burger King,’ a police source said.
Her family told the Post that she had already requested more security and was planning to move to day shifts after fearing for her safety when leaving work.
‘She is only 19, and she has more than 50 homeless people sleeping in front of the store,’ her mother, Kristie Nieves, 36, said in Spanish through a friend and translator Nathalie Pagan.
Her mother went on to say she felt particularly torn over her daughter’s death after convincing her to continue going to work despite the teen’s concerns.
‘Kristal said Friday, ‘I don’t want to go. I’m scared,” Nieves said.
‘I say, ‘You have to go and be responsible.’ At 10 pm I wake her up to go and tell her, ‘You have to go. You have to be responsible. You have to get a better life.”
Pagan added that Kristal’s mom ‘feels guilty about that. That’s what she tells me earlier, that she feels guilty because she wakes her up to go.’
According to her family, a young man, who stopped by to see her at the restaurant to bring her a flower almost nightly, was there when she was killed.
‘He told us he was there until her last breath,’ Pagan said.
‘He tells us when he went and walk to the place that he always buy her a flower. He went back, and they open the door to this guy that was dressed like them, in all black.’
Bayron-Nieves reportedly mistook the robber for a delivery man before he punched the restaurant manager and then knocking out the young man there to see her.
The 19-year-old was shot dead at a Burger King on 116th and Lexington Avenue in East Harlem around 1am on Sunday
The 19-year-old was afraid to be working nights and had asked to be switched over to the day shift, which was supposed to happen next Friday
Pagan said the teen ultimately gave the thief all the money in the register, about $100 in cash.
‘So (the young man) says that the guy turns around and he comes back and shot her,’ Pagan said.
‘That he turn around like he is going to leave, but he comes back and shoots her.’
‘She’d done everything that he say,’ she said.
‘She give him the money and everything. That she didn’t even do nothing wrong.’
Sunday’s fatal robbery and shooting incident comes as crime continues to surge in NYC with a 19.4 percent increase in robberies reported
Former Police Commissioner Bill Bratton said newly-elected Mayor Eric Adams has his hands tied in terms of crime while Bragg’s office implements its woke policies.
Adams had promised a return to broken-windows policing after winning on a tough-on-crime approach campaign.
‘I don’t know how Mr. Adams is going to do that when the DA is effectively handcuffing the police,’ he said.
Several of New York City’s borough district attorneys also took aim at the soft-on-crime policies laid out this week by Bragg.