PELHAM BAY, the Bronx (PIX11) — Four men were seen leaving the area where Nikki Huang and Jesse Parrilla, both 22, were shot and set on fire around 4:15 a.m. on May 16, and now we’re learning about the getaway car.
A law enforcement source told PIX11 News the suspects got into a small Fiat near Split Rock Golf Course in the Bronx and then abandoned the Fiat on the northbound service road of the Major Deegan Expressway near 138th Street.
“Surveillance showed four guys leaving the vehicle,” the source said. “They were all masked. You see four guys leave the Fiat, and it starts to burn.”
This new information indicates more than one car was burned early that morning, beginning with the silver Honda owned by Parrilla, a well-known basketball player on the Lower East Side.
Parrilla’s mother, Michelle Morales, told PIX11 News on Monday that police showed her the surveillance video of when her son was carjacked outside Huang’s house near Grand Street in Lower Manhattan.
“All you see is when they take his car and put him in the next car, a black car,” Morales said.
Morales said she saw one of the named, murder suspects on this surveillance.
“Steven Santiago took his car. I was able to see him on the video,” the mother said.
Police and family said Parrilla had offered a ride to Huang, a friend he knew from middle school. Huang was upset she’d been robbed of her expensive handbag and phone earlier on May 15, and allegedly complained to a group of neighborhood friends purportedly affiliated with a gang.
A series of shootings that started late May 15 — the first one fatal — were tied to the handbag robbery. The gun violence involved rival sets from the “Up the Hill” and “Down the Hill” gangs, sources said.
A total of four vehicles were used in the Parrilla/Huang abduction, the law enforcement source told PIX11 News on Monday.
Huang was locked out of her family’s apartment around 1 a.m. on May 16, and apparently didn’t realize Parrilla had been carjacked. By the time she came out of her building, the silver Honda was back outside and Huang got in. But someone else was controlling the vehicle.
Four cars then assembled at Baruch Houses, where suspects Steven Santiago and Jamel Sanders lived.
“You see the Fiat leaving the parking lot,” the law enforcement source said. “Four cars leave Baruch Houses.”
The source said two of the cars, Parilla’s Honda and the black vehicle, were seen on surveillance video arriving in Maspeth, Queens. This is where a gang rival was allegedly shot while putting out garbage, before the two cars headed towards the Bronx.
Police said Huang and Parrilla were tortured and shot before Parrilla’s Honda was set on fire near the Bronx golf course.
“I got to see Jamel leaving the crime scene,” Morales told PIX11 News, explaining what she saw on the Bronx surveillance video. She said the suspect, Jamel Sanders, was identified on that video.
But Morales is upset the surveillance hasn’t been released to the general public, because she thinks that could possibly help identify the two, unknown suspects.
“Why not just put out the other photos of the people not identified?” Morales asked. “They’re making this a Bronx case when it’s not. These murderers are from the Lower East Side.”
Morales said she was worried the case was not being taken seriously, but PIX11 News learned investigators have gone out-of-state searching for the suspects.
“It’s 133 days now,” Morales said about the length of time since her son and Huang were murdered. “That’s four months.”
The half-brother of suspect Santiago was the first victim to die during the night of gun violence in May. His accused killer was arrested in July in West Virginia.