New York City police have arrested a suspect in the cold-blooded murder of a 19-year-old Burger King cashier, who was gunned down for more than $100 during a robbery earlier this week.
The NYPD announced Friday that an “interested party” has been arrested in connection with the Sunday morning murder of Kristal Bayron-Nieves.
A police spokesperson declined to release additional information about the case, but unnamed NYPD sources with direct knowledge of the investigation revealed to NBC New York that the male suspect was arrested Thursday night in Brooklyn.
Two senior police officials told the news station that the suspect, who was reportedly 30 years old, was arrested after police watched surveillance video at the Harlem shooting scene.
Police have arrested an unidentified 30-year-old suspect for the murder of a 19-year-old Burger King cashier. Surveillance photo of the suspect can be seen above
Kristal Bayron-Nieves, 19, was shot dead while on night shift at a Burger King last Sunday
Clothing seen on the suspect at the time of the murder was said to have been seen on his social media pages, and witnesses helped confirm his identity, police sources said.
The 30-year-old murder suspect has a criminal history, but the extent of it is unknown at this time.
Bayron-Nieves’ family has been notified of the arrest, which happened just hours after a candlelit vigil held outside the Burger King on East 116th Street and Lexington Avenue in East Harlem, where the cashier died Sunday morning.
‘My family is actually excited that they caught’ [the suspect]said Bayron-Nieves’ cousin, Shiming Nieves. “It won’t bring her back or anything, but a little relief and little by little we’re going to pick up the pieces, to make our family strong again.”
A $20,000 reward was offered for information leading to an arrest, half of which was paid for by billionaire businessman John Catsimatidis, the CEO of supermarket chain Gristedes.
Prior to Thursday’s arrest, Catsimatidis, 73, said he was “emotionally distraught” when he learned of the Burger King employee’s death.
“I was emotionally distraught. This Young Woman Lost Her Life For Over $100! I choked,’ he said to the New York Post on Tuesday.
Billionaire John Catsimatidis, 73, said he was “emotionally distraught” when he learned of Bayron-Nieves’ death and offered a $10,000 reward to anyone who assists in the “arrest and conviction of the killer”
The radio host and former Republican mayoral candidate ran an ad offering a $10,000 reward for the arrest and conviction of the Bayron-Nieves killer.
The fatal robbery happened as New York City’s crime rate soared following the controversial decision by newly installed Manhattan district attorney Alvin Bragg to downgrade burglaries, armed robbery and drug trafficking to felonies.
Since then, the number of robberies has risen by 19.4 percent in the past week.
Bayron-Nieves was working as a cashier at the Burger King on E. 116th Street and Lexington Avenue when an armed robber entered the restaurant around 1 AM.
The gunman hit a male customer with a gun, then punched a female manager in the face.
Bayron-Nieves, who just started the job three weeks ago, gave the robber $100 in cash from the drawer, an eyewitness said, according to her mother.
Police have offered a $10,000 reward to anyone with information
The criminal turned to leave, but turned again and shot Bayron-Nieves in the torso.
The teen was transported to the nearby Metropolitan Hospital, where she was pronounced dead.
“She didn’t deserve to be mowed down while working at a Burger King,” a police source said.
Her family told the Post that she had already asked for more security and planned to go to day shifts after fearing for her safety when leaving work.
“She’s only 19 and has more than 50 homeless people sleeping in front of the store,” her mother, Kristie Nieves, 36, said in Spanish through friend and translator Nathalie Pagan.
Her mother went on to say that she was particularly heartbroken over her daughter’s death after convincing her to continue working despite the teen’s concerns.
Crystal said Friday, ‘I don’t want to go. I’m scared,” Nieves said.
“I say, ‘You have to go and take your responsibility.’ At 10 p.m. I wake her to go and tell her, ‘You have to go. You must be responsible. You have to get a better life.”
Pagan added that Kristal’s mother feels guilty about that. That’s what she told me before, that she feels guilty for waking her up to go.”
According to her family, a young man came by to see her at the restaurant to bring her a flower almost every night when she was murdered.
“He told us he was there until her last breath,” Pagan said.
“He tells us he always bought her a flower when he went to the place and walked. He went back and they opened the door for this man who was dressed just like them, all in black.’
Bayron-Nieves reportedly mistook the robber for a delivery boy before punching the restaurant manager and knocking the young man there to see her.
The 19-year-old was shot and killed around 1 a.m. Sunday at a Burger King at 116th and Lexington Avenue in East Harlem.
The 19-year-old was afraid to work at night and had asked to switch to the day shift, which was due next Friday
Pagan said the teen eventually gave the thief all the money on the register, about $100 in cash.
“So (the young man) says the man will turn and come back and shoot her,” Pagan said.
“That he turns around as if he wants to leave, but that he comes back and shoots her.”
“She had done everything he said,” she said.
“She gave him the money and everything. That she didn’t even do anything wrong.’
Authorities have since released surveillance video footage of the man wanted in the teen’s death.
Sunday’s fatal robbery and shooting incident comes as crime continues to rise in NYC with a 19.4 percent increase in reported robberies
Former Police Commissioner Bill Bratton said newly elected Mayor Eric Adams has his hands tied on crime as Bragg’s office carries out its wake-up policy.
Adams had promised to return to the police with broken windows after winning an anti-crime campaign.
“I don’t know how Mr. Adams is going to do that if the DA actually handcuffs the police,” he said.
Several New York City district attorneys also focused on the soft-on-crime policies outlined by Bragg this week.