Josue Lopez-Ortega, a 15-year-old victim of a shooting, succumbed to his gunshot wounds and died at Lincoln Hospital on Friday, January 20th. Lopez-Ortega and his 16-year-old friend were walking close to the Police Athletic League’s South Bronx Center on Thursday, January 19th, when they were shot at by an unknown assailant.
The Gray Jeep
According to reports, the two boys were leaving an event with a group of friends when a gray Jeep parked on Beck Street and Longwood Avenue. The shooter exited the Jeep, ran across the street, fired shots into the group of people, and ran back to the Jeep which then sped off. Lopez-Ortega was shot in the head and rushed to Lincoln Hospital in critical condition, eventually losing his life. Ortega’s friend was struck in the leg and was treated for a graze wound. Police released pictures of the gray Jeep that was used in the crime. Police are working on the premise that the shooting was likely retaliation over a fight that previously occurred. No arrests had been made at the time of writing.
A Devastated Community
The shooting and where it occurred has caused distress in the community. Lopez-Ortega is described as a boy who was kind and had a lot of friends. His death has deeply affected his friends, classmates, and community. Residents have lamented how such a violent incident can take place near The Police Athletic League, a place meant to keep children and teenagers occupied with productive activities and off the streets, away from violence.
“This is where we want kids to come to after school, on the weekends to have a safe place to network with each other, to have fun, play games, learn,” Bronx District Attorney Darcel Clark said. “To be able to have this kind of space but then come out and then have to deal with this kind of violence right outside this safe haven. It’s very disturbing.”
Bronx Borough President Vanessa Gibson released a statement addressing the incident and New York’s continued gun violence problems. “Yesterday’s shooting outside the Police Athletic League in Longwood that left one teen injured, and another mortally wounded, in addition to a School Safety Agent’s discovery of weapons in a 13-year-old’s backpack in Fordham Heights, makes it abundantly clear that the gun epidemic in New York City is far from over. Our children deserve to learn and recreate in safe environments. We are grateful to the brave student who voiced their concern and helped School Safety Agents recover the weapons, but our children should not have to be superheroes at school or fear being gunned down on the street.”
Gibson continued, “Guns have no place in our streets, and they certainly have no place in our educational facilities and recreational spaces. These incidents and so many others highlight the urgent need for us to stop the proliferation of guns in our neighborhoods. I also want to thank the incredible team at the Police Athletic League for their commitment and dedication to our youth. Community centers are safe spaces, and we will not accept any attempts to jeopardize or undermine their work,” she wrote.