Suspect in stray-bullet death surrenders

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NEW YORK (AP) – Sobbing, clutching her son’s toy and wearing his baby bracelet, the mother of a 2-year-old killed by a stray bullet during an Easter outing said Monday she wished she had been struck instead.

Calling the little boy “my angel,” Joanne Sanabria said, “God only knows how much I wish that bullet would have hit me.”

Police said the suspected shooter, Nicholas Morris, surrendered at about 7:45 p.m. Monday after calling them from the office of a Bronx cable television station. Charges against him were pending.

Sanabria said she wanted her son’s killer to remember him.

“I want him to wake up every day and see my face and hear my voice and see my son’s picture every day,” Sanabria said at a news conference outside the family’s apartment building hours before Morris turned himself in.

Morris, 26, was in police custody Monday night and could not be reached for comment.

The tragedy stemmed from a “staredown” between two groups of men who didn’t know each other, police spokesman Paul Browne said.

One of five bullets from a 9mm handgun killed David Pacheco Jr. on Sunday afternoon after piercing his family’s minivan. The boy, dressed in his Easter best, was strapped in a car seat as the family traveled through the Morris Heights section of the Bronx, a few miles from home.

“I was driving and I heard the gunshot and I heard my son screaming,” Sanabria, 28, said Monday morning.

Sanabria’s daughters, ages 8 and 11, and her sister’s family also were in the car. No one else was harmed.

Investigators believe the incident occurred after the staredown escalated and Morris or Gilliam slapped another man. When several of the man’s friends intervened, the pair retreated to an apartment, grabbed the gun and opened fire at the group from across the street just as the van was passing by, police said.

An off-duty emergency medical technician, Angelo Cruz, heard the shots, ran to the scene and began administering CPR to the boy. When he realized how gravely injured the toddler was, he hailed a livery cab, which took them to Bronx-Lebanon Hospital Center.

“The loss of blood was massive,” Cruz said previously. “I knew he was in bad shape.”

The toddler, who was struck in the chest, was pronounced dead about 45 minutes later.

The child’s father, David Pacheco, said at the news conference that he owes his thanks to Cruz. He said the resuscitation gave him enough time for a last chance to see his son alive.

Grieving family and friends said David Jr. was energetic and always smiling.

“He was a happy kid,” said an uncle, Victor Castillo.

Police were able to identify the suspects after witnesses told them Nick and Burger were involved. Using a database of nicknames associated with past crimes, investigators determined Burger is Gilliam.

Investigators said they executed a search warrant on Monday afternoon at Morris’ home and recovered a small amount of drugs and a rifle. They also took the suspect’s brother into custody for questioning.



Associated Press writer Tom Hays contributed to this report.

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