A 26-year-old member of the notorious MS-13 gang suspected of shooting and killing a man on a Queens subway platform Sunday as horrified riders looked on is in police custody, sources said Monday.
The gunman, identified by sources as Ramiro Gutierrez, 26, of Queens, is believed to have shot Abel Mosso, 20, a member of the rival 18th Street gang, on the crowded platform at 90th St. and Elmhurst Ave. in Jackson Heights around 12:45 p.m.
Police believe the victim and other men were fighting on a Manhattan-bound No. 7 train when it pulled into the station.
The brawl spilled onto the platform when the doors opened, and one rider started recording it with his cell phone camera.
“I thought they were fighting for no reason, as drunken people. I just kept taking video, and all of a sudden one person pulled out a gun and started shooting,” that commuter, Bidur Bista, told the Daily News Sunday.
The video immediately went viral after Bista posted it.
“Literally, the whole dispute and the shooting incident was captured on video,” Chief of Detectives Dermot Shea said.
Mosso pulled a gun, and Gutierrez wrestled it away from him. Mosso got up, a shot rang out and he dropped to the concrete, officials said.
The gunman fired five more shots into Mosso’s face from close range. Mosso was hit in the head and died at the scene.
The suspect has 12 prior arrests. In December he was named in an indictment along with 12 other MS-13 members. Gutierrez was charged with conspiracy to commit a burglary and drug possession, and freed on $2,500 bail.
He was arrested twice last May on stolen property charges.
He was being questioned Monday at a Queens police precinct. The victim had seven prior arrests.
Police are seeking a second man in connection with the fight on the platform.
Shea said the motive was not yet entirely clear. “We do have comments from witnesses that MS-13 was mentioned,” he said. “Somebody was yelling something about MS-13. That’ll have to be vetted out.”
The department has said the MS-13 problem is not as bad in the city as it is on Long Island, which has been the site of several murders of young men and women by the gang.
“One incident is a problem. We have had a number of incidents involving MS-13 in recent months,” Shea said. “When we have violent incidents, or certainly an incident as horrific [as] this, on a crowded train, in the middle of the day, with hard-working people trying to go about their lives, we will bring the full brunt…The fast way to get the NYPD’s attention is an incident like this.”
Crime in the subway increased in 2018 by 3.8%, compared to 2017, Shea said.
“Whether you’re in 1980, 1990 and or 2019, To have an incident like this is troubling,” he said. “The good news is … when you look at crime in transit, on trains, in stations, it’s at a near-record low. Crime this year in transit is down. To have that conversation and then to have an incident like yesterday is not easy. The subways are safe.”
Shea said most subway crimes are grand larcenies or property crimes.
So far this year, subway crime is down slightly — 210 crimes through Sunday compared with 214 in the same period last year.
Shea noted the role of phone cameras and social media in changing the landscape of crime fighting.
“These incidents happened before. It’s just that they’re captured now on television cameras,” Shea said. “They’re captured on video cameras. Everyone’s walking around with a smartphone. And within minutes of those crimes occurring it’s going viral.
“It’s hard to square in your mind — I’ve never seen something like this before, but crime is down…It really stays with you and it can really traumatize somebody because we’re seeing up close like we’ve never seen it before. This incident is an aberration.”
Gutierrez has not been formally charged.
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