Bronx man’s plan to escape 'Vietnam’ for a California dream ended with a bullet to the head in suspected gang murder

Wes Parnell, Thomas Tracy and Larry McShane, New York Daily News
·3 min read

A Bronx man’s plan to swap life in his gang-infested building for a new start in California ended with a bullet to the head.

Christopher Pagan, 23, announced his intention to once and for all escape the violence in his 17-story building — known to locals as “Vietnam” — by heading for the West Coast on his Nov. 7 birthday, according to family.

Pagan didn’t make it to October. He was gunned down Sept. 12 while sitting with a friend inside a parked car near their building in the Jackson Houses.

“He wanted to see if he could make something out of himself and make his mother proud," said the victim’s 66-year-old grandmother Maria Ortiz. “He had no kind of trouble with nobody. Everybody liked him.”

One neighbor who knew the victim from the time he was a child suggested the killers targeted the ambitious Pagan to destroy his dreams of something bigger.

“People are envious over here,” she said. “They don’t want to see other people do better. He was just a normal kid, and ‘Vietnam’ took him.”

Three suspects were arrested a month later in the fatal shooting that also wounded a second man.

The 40th Precinct reported 57 gunshot victims through Oct. 25 compared to 21 in the same period last year, an increase of 171%. Homicides stood at 12 compared to nine in 2019.

Weeks after the execution, Pagan’s devastated mother and five siblings were still reeling over their loss.

“I’m having depression, anxiety,” said mom Lisa Ortiz, 43. “I’m still in denial because he was such a good kid. I’m just in shock."

According to Pagan’s family, he was targeted by a gang known as the “Young Gunners,” based in another building at the NYCHA housing complex. The killers apparently boasted about the killing afterward on social media, family members said.

Court documents indicated suspect Dysean Reddick, 21, provided a firearm to co-defendants Tyrone Powell, 22, and Quamel Wilson, 23, before the murder.

The three men met up about half a mile away after the killing, where Reddick gave one of the gunmen a ride home, court papers said.

Pagan steered clear of the local violent gangs and instead channeled his energy into sports.

“He was such a sweet boy,” said his grandmother. “Helped his friends. Helped his family, too. He was trying to make money to support the family. He worked construction. He worked for Stanley Steamers, too.”

His grandmother recalled the night when Pagan’s hopes were destroyed with the squeeze of a trigger.

“I heard some shots,” she said. “I looked at my granddaughter, she was on the phone. Somebody had called her and told her that her brother just got shot. We ran downstairs, and they had already taken him to the hospital, and he passed away there.”

Both Reddick and Powell were arraigned on murder charges earlier this month and held without bail. Wilson was arraigned Friday evening on murder, manslaughter and gun charges, and also ordered held without bail.

Lisa Ortiz said she had no intention of forgiving them.

“There is no hope in this situation,” said the mom. “I will never forgive and I will never forget. I’m not one of those persons that can forgive what happened.”


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