NEW YORK (PIX11) — A suspect in the fatal shooting of a deli worker in Manhattan was arrested and charged with murder Thursday, NYPD officials said.
The gunman, who was wearing a hazmat suit, walked into a deli near East 81st Street and Third Avenue around 11:30 p.m. Friday and fatally shot 67-year-old worker Sueng Choi in the head during a robbery, authorities said. Choi was pronounced dead at the scene.
Investigators believe the suspect, 39-year-old Bronx resident Kimond Cyrus, is connected to three other armed robberies throughout New York City, though charges are pending in connection to those incidents. Investigators described it as a three-borough robbery spree from Feb. 25 to March 3, ending with the shooting death of Choi at Daona deli in Manhattan.
In another incident, a deli on Melrose Avenue near East 160th Street in the Bronx was robbed at gunpoint by a man in a white hazmat suit and a face mask, officials said.
The worker handed over about $1,200, cigarettes, and assorted merchandise, and the crook fled on a scooter, police said. No one was injured in the Bronx incident.
Police used a Crime Stoppers tip and surveillance video to track down Cyrus, who was arrested in the Bronx, authorities said. At his apartment, police say they found his alleged getaway scooter and a black handgun. Earlier in the week, investigators also found discarded white hazmat suits, according to authorities.
Cyrus is now charged with murder and criminal possession of a weapon. Cyrus has a previous assault conviction dating to 2003. In that case, police said, Cyrus stomped and kicked a 53-year-old man who had his wallet stolen.
“I particularly want to thank the public for its help. This tip was very instrumental in the apprehension of this violent person,” said NYPD Chief of Detectives James Essig.
At a press conference Thursday, Mayor Eric Adams commended the NYPD’s work to track down the suspect, but he said police would have been able to catch him days earlier if he hadn’t been wearing a face mask.
“That police work was made harder with this,” Adams said, holding up a face mask. “Face masks protected us from COVID but is really allowing criminals to exploit this. We can have public safety and health. They go together.”
United Bodegas of America, which represents 15,000 businesses in New York City, supports having customers lower their masks inside stores.
“If you’re going to enter a bodega, we must be able to identify who you are. We must be able to see who you are,” said Fernando Mateo, president of United Bodegas of America.