A 19-year-old steered clear of gangs, but his red jacket got him killed anyway by two men who asked if he was a member of the Bloods, police said Friday.
Victim Cristobal Alfredo Ixquier Mejia was drinking at a deli at 147th Place and Jamaica Ave. in Jamaica when two suspects approached and asked about his choice of clothing, police said. Red is the signature color of the Bloods.
“My brother wasn’t in any type of group or gang,” Mejia’s heartbroken older brother Antonio Rolando Ixquier Mejia, 23, told the Daily News.
An NYPD spokesman said there is no indication Mejia had gang ties.
The question sparked a fistfight that spilled outside just before 10 p.m., police said.
Antonio said he and another sibling, Diego Federico Ixquier Mejia, were walking to the deli when they saw their younger brother fighting for his life with the two suspects — one of whom was wearing blue.
Blue is associated with the Bloods’ rival gang, the Crips.
“The guy just punched my brother,” Diego, 21, told The News, adding that the attack appeared unprovoked.
Cristobal managed to break away from his attacker and ran a few blocks toward Jamaica Ave., but one of the suspects opened fire, Diego said.
“He had a pistol, and then he shot my brother,” Diego added. “We ran to the park, shouting for the police.”
Responding officers arrested Shareese Smith near the scene and charged him with murder and gun possession. Police found a 9-mm handgun at the scene, but it wasn’t immediately clear if Smith is suspected of firing the fatal shot. Smith has two sealed arrests on his record, police sources said.
The second man ran off and was still being sought.
Medics rushed Mejia to Jamaica Hospital but he could not be saved.
Cristobal emigrated to the U.S. from Guatemala when he was 15 and worked at a nearby car wash. Antonio Lenares, a manager at the car wash, said he frequently warned the teen about his fashion choices.
“He always had a red t-shirt, I told him don’t wear that one,” Lenares, 50, said. “People might get confused. He didn’t have a long time in the country.”
His family were stunned to learn that Cristobal killed over the color of his jacket.
“I just want to know why they killed my son,” his grieving father, Ixquier Tzaj Santos, said.
[via New York Daily News]