MOUNT VERNON, N.Y. (CBSNewYork) — A suspect arrested in the death of a young basketball star who was killed by a stray bullet in Mount Vernon has been charged with second-degree murder, authorities said Tuesday.
David Hardy, 21, has also been charged with criminal possession of a weapon in the fatal shooting of 13-year-old Shamoya McKenzie and may face additional charges, authorities said.
“The local police department, the FBI, the district attorney’s office and parol have not slept since this shooting occurred,” Westchester County District Attorney Anthony Scarpino said.
“Shamoya’s death was not in vain,” Mount Vernon Mayor Richard Thomas said at a news conference.
Police say it was a stray bullet fired by Hardy that hit the teen in the head as she sat in the passenger seat of her mom’s car on her way home from basketball practice on New Year’s Eve.
Investigators say Hardy, an alleged gang member, was aiming for another man who was grazed by the gunfire. The DA said the bullet was meant for someone named Prince Scott, 1010 WINS’ Roger Stern reported.
After the shooting, they say Hardy fled Mount Vernon and headed south, triggering a multi-state manhunt, but then returned to Mount Vernon shortly before he was arrested.
Agents from different FBI field offices helped bring hardy in.
Mount Vernon police said the shooting was gang related, and that they knew who they were looking for, but needed federal help to flush him out, CBS2’s Lou Young reported.
“We had a target and we arrested the target,” Mt. Vernon Public Safety Commissioner, Ron Fatigate said.
Roughly 100 cops and FBI agents tracked Hardy to North Carolina and back. New of the arrest brought people to their feet at a Martin Luther King Jr Day event on Monday.
Nadine McKenzie, still grappling with the anguish of losing her only child, said she has one question for her daughter’s accused killer.
“Why? Why would you take the law in your hands?” she told CBS2’s Janelle Burrell. “Just think about your sister, your mother, your wife or whatever. If someone killed them, how would you feel?”
Assistant FBI Director Phil Sweeney offered his condolences as he announced the arrest.
“Nadine, I hope hearing there’s an arrest brings some sort of solace to your family, although I know it won’t bring your daughter back, and I’m terribly sorry for your loss,” he said.
For McKenzie, news of the arrest is a relief, but little consolation for her daughter who she buried last week.
“This is a child where everyone adored and you want to see shine,” she said. “The question everyone is asking is ‘Why Shamoya?’ And we have no answers yet.”
The victim’s mother remained bitter about neighbors who initially balked at helping cops identify the shooter.
“It’s not easy. Although they caught him, you know it hurt me that people who saw didn’t come forward right away to help the police,” she said.
Investigators brought heavy pressure to bear on the street. The new Westchester DA and the Mount Vernon Mayor said the case has hit a nerve.
“I’m a Mount Vernon resident. I was born here, I went to Mount Vernon High School. This is my town,” Westchester DA Anthony Scarpino said.
“This is the new Mount Vernon, and we’re moving forward,” Mount Vernon Mayor Richard Thomas said.
The mayor is putting all alleged gang members on notice, WCBS 880’s Sean Adams reported.
“Some idiot that had access to a weapon used it on our streets,” he said. “That’s something that we’re not tolerating no more.”
The suspect’s attorney said police had no forensics.
“I don’t believe that there’s any physical evidence in this case linking Mr. hardy to this particular crime,” defense attorney Peter St. George Davis said.
Hardy’s attorney also pointed out that there was tremendous pressure to make an arrest — likening the case to the Central Park jogger case. He also called it a possible rush to judgement.
The city announced in a statement released Tuesday that Hardy was briefly employed as a seasonal maintenance worker with Mount Vernon. He was notified that his employment was terminated in December 2016 after he failed to show up for his assigned job, according to the city.
“The City of Mount Vernon expects each and every one of the 1000 + employees in government to uphold the highest standards of ethics, accountability, and respect for the life of every person in Mount Vernon,” the statement continued. “The Thomas Administration is requiring background checks, drug testing, and training classes — when appropriate — for all employees. New employment policies and procedures are being developed, reviewed, and implemented by the Mayor’s Office and the City Council to ensure that each and every employee and future employee of our city is properly vetted.”
Hardy will be back in court on February 2.