4 in Apartment Slain in Drug-Related Case
NEW YORK (AP) _ Two masked killers barged into an apartment before dawn Wednesday and shot four young men to death and wounded a fifth, according to police who said the slaughter may be drug-related.
Two women, a 16-year-old girl, a 15-year-old boy and a 2-year-old boy were spared. Nine of the 10 people in the Bronx apartent were related, said the girl, Caridad Ramirez, 16.
The killers fled unharmed and the reason for their deadly fusillade was not known.
″We are lacking a motive,″ said Detective Lt. William Roe of the 43rd Precinct.
″It might have been in response to some sort of rip-off,″ said Lt. Vernon Geberth.
″Drugs are involved,″ said Geberth. ″A little bit of ‘crack’ was found on the victims,″ he said, referring to a form of cocaine.
Deputy Chief Emil Chiccotelli, Bronx detective commander, said it did not appear that the killings were a spur-of-the-moment reaction to a drug deal that went bad.
″It looks like the people came into the apartment with the intention of killing people,″ Chiccotelli said. ″It looks very efficient, done with dispatch.″
The four were killed in the living room and foyer, Geberth said. The wounded man was shot in the shoulder as he slept in one of two bedrooms.
Miss Ramirez identified the dead as her brother, Jose Oquendo, 18; a cousin, Anthony Figueroa, 18, and his brother George Villaronga, 19, and a 26- year-old man not related to them, Wilson Castillo.
She said Castillo answered when the killers came to the door.
″One of them asked in Spanish, ‘What’s your name?’ Then the shooting started,″ according to the police account given by Officer Edward Kulesa.
″I was asleep,″ Miss Ramirez told reporters at the police station. ″Two guys came in and we heard five gunshots. Then I panicked. I screamed and said, What happened?″
″When we came out of the room, they were all dead,″ she said.
Miss Ramirez said she had been asleep in the second bedroom with her sister, Maria Oquendo, 20, who she said was nine months pregnant.
The others in the apartment were Marilyn Ayala, about 30, the renter of record, her son Anthony, 15, and the 2-year-old boy, whose name she did not know.
The wounded man, Miguel Cruz, 20, was hospitalized in stable condition, according to Jean Richardson, speaking for Jacobi Hospital.
Police said spent shells from a 9mm automatic weapon were found in the apartment in the Bronx River Houses project in the southeastern part of the borough.