Parents anxiously dropped their children off at Trinity School and Goddard-Riverside preschool early Monday morning and exchanged scant information available on the brutal killing of a Pennsylvania man in a car parked between the two schools on West 91st Street.
No trace of the carnage remained by the time the school bells chimed, after NYPD had pulled an all-nighter gathering evidence, beginning at 10:15 p.m. Sunday night when 24th Precinct officers responded to the scene.
Police found Marvin Stevens, the 38-year-old victim, being clutched by a 22-year-old female friend. Stevens was pronounced dead on arrival from one bullet wound to the face at St. Luke’s Hospital twenty-five minutes later, according to NYPD officials.
“Central Park Police stopped a suspicious vehicle traveling through the park, but it was not the suspects, who are still loose,” said John Harrison, a law enforcement official who was doing security detail for a Trinity School student on Monday.
According to Harrison, the initial police chase of the three suspects, two in a green van and one on foot, yielded no results. The female friend also did not initially provide any information, said Harrison.
He added that police might be able to identify the suspects based on fingerprints left on either the single shell casing found at the scene or on the wallet that a suspect allegedly dropped nearby.
“As I was waiting outside for my daughter to be dropped off, I heard one shot and then ran up the ramp of my building. My heart started pounding because I thought she might have been out there,” said resident Esther Gross, vice president of the Wise Towers housing board and former chair of the New York City Public Housing Resident Alliance.
“The victim and his female friend were either caught in a love quarrel or a drug deal gone wrong,” said Zoraida Bonilla, 46, supervisor of the Wise Towers tenant patrol, which aids Housing Authority police in securing the Wise Towers, four public housing buildings on the south side of West 91st Street, between Columbus and Amsterdam Avenues.
“The cops had been here three hours before because we had a jumper on the roof of [117 W. 91st St.], and they inflated landing pads around the whole building,” added Bonilla, about an apparently unrelated incident.
Sunday night’s killing occurred in front of the Goddard-Riverside preschool at 114 W. 91st St., which is directly across the street from where an Allied Barton security guard was sitting at Trinity School. Trinity School’s spokesman did not comment on the incident.
“Our book keeper, who opened up the facility at 8 a.m. Monday morning, was the first person here since Friday. So, thankfully none of us were affected,” said Pedro Cordero, Director of Early Childhood Services at Goddard-Riverside Children’s Center.
“The old ladies know what color drawers you’re wearing before you even put them on, but they don’t know about this one yet,” said Mookie Negron, 33, as she and other Wise Towers residents speculated whether the victim and his female friend had ties to the area.
Police spokesman Anthony Battaglia said that the ongoing police investigation has yet to yield any arrests. Authorities are trying to determine whether the incident was linked to a spate of six Harlem shootings that also occurred Sunday night, several hours after Harlem’s African American Day Parade.
The murder is the third this year in the 24th Precinct, according to NYPD CompStat data.