Authorities said Wednesday that the child, whose name has not been released because he is a minor, was feuding with another 13-year-old boy on social media. The Snapchat feud escalated on Oct. 6 when police said the accused boy threatened to shoot his rival.
The next day, police allege, he did just that. Officials said that the 4-foot-11, 110-pound child showed up to Hunt’s Point Playground on Oct. 7 at about 5:35 p.m. and fired a handgun, striking his victim in the left knee.
The victim, whose name was also withheld, was taken to a nearby hospital in stable condition.
According to police, the shooter fled the playground after his victim fell to the ground.
“I was sitting right next to the basketball court. Four shots,” said eyewitness Amanda Palermo, 30. “A bunch of kids came, and then all you heard was four shots, and he got shot in his leg. “
She continued: “When that happened, the other kids in the park ran away. The only ones that stayed were [the victim’s] friends.”
Police said that the accused shooter was caught on surveillance footage fleeing the scene with four other individuals, the gun still in his hand. Officials circulated the image of the 13-year-old boy and asked the public for assistance in identifying him the child, known by the nickname “Chulo.”
On Tuesday, the boy’s mother saw the wanted poster and recognized the shooter as her son. She reportedly took him to the 41st Precinct stationhouse, turned him in, and asked for a lawyer.
Police said the 13-year-old boy has been charged with attempted murder, assault and harassment. The New York Daily News reported that the boy was processed through the family court system and is back in the custody of his mother.
Authorities are also searching for a second, unidentified boy who they believe was an accomplice to the shooting.
“You just shake your head,” NYPD Commissioner Dermot Shea told local reporters of the incident. “It’s terrible all the way around. We have to do better as a society.”
“What do you do with a 13-year-old in this circumstance?” He continued. “There is no right answer. The courts will figure it out and you hope. You feel for the victim, but you also think about the side of the family of the child that pulled the trigger here. There are no winners.”
Caryl Perez, who lives near the park, told local reporters she was surprised that a 13-year-old boy had access to a firearm.
“They are not mature enough to de-escalate. The two of them – it’s just so sad,” she said.
Other Bronx residents are demanding police action to address the plague of gun violence.
“New York City has one of the toughest gun laws and still they get them, so stop and frisk may be an option,” local Frankie Velez told reporters. Something has to be done. It’s not safe.”
According to a state website, juvenile offenders whose cases are handled through Family Court are reclassified as “juvenile delinquents.” Rather than being sentenced to jail, juvenile delinquents under New York law are given “supervision, treatment or placement” through state and local social services.
Family Court proceedings are also confidential and cases are occasionally sealed, meaning the ultimate fate of the 13-year-old boy may not be a matter of public record.