The first man killed in a fast and furious Chinatown gang dispute sparked by a neighborhood purse-snatching was the step-brother of the man sought for the double homicide that ended the bloody spree, the NYPD said Friday.
Cops continued their hunt for suspects Jahmel Sanders, 30, and Steven Santiago, 34, both Bronx-based members of the Trinitarios gang, for the May 16 execution of Nikki Huang and Jesse Parilla — the last two victims in the retaliation shootings.
Santiago is the step-brother of Brandon Atkinson, the man killed after gang members accused him of taking Huang’s purse — the incident that sparked the mini-gang war, said NYPD Chief of Detectives James Essig.
“That was a nasty few days there,” said Essig. “It just shows that violent retaliation comes quick ... all within a span of 24 hours. And all of them are brutal.”
Although it was later determined that Atkinson had nothing to do with the theft, his rivals in the Down the Hill Gang believed he had grabbed an expensive Louis Vuitton purse belonging to local nail salon owner Huang while she was watching a basketball game in a neighborhood park, Essig said.
“She goes out and tells her people,” said Essig.
Payback came soon afterward. “That night, Atkinson is shot in the head and killed,” Essig said. Police sources said Atkinson was shot twice in the back of the head outside a deli.
Atkinson’s death set off “a series of events,” said Essig.
Less than an hour later, a member of the Down The Hill gang and an innocent bystander were shot and wounded by their rival Up The Hill Gang.
“Then the timeline of events really spirals out of control,” said Essig.
Huang and innocent bystander Jesse Parrilla were kidnapped and used to lure a gangbanger from his home in Ridgewood, Queens at around 2:30 a.m.
A waiting gunman shot that victim in the left side of his face and arm before fleeing. The wounded gangbanger survived the incident.
Huang and then Parrilla were then shot to death and left in a parked car that was set afire near a Bronx golf course later on May 16.
Police believe Parrilla, 22, a talented young basketball player, was killed because of his friendship with Huang.
Suspect Zymir Humphrey, 18, was extradited earlier this week on charges of murder and weapons possession in the killing of Atkinson. Authorities tracked him to Martinsburg, W. Va., after learning he’d fled south to dodge arrest.
Humphrey was identified and nabbed by by U.S. Marshals while he rode in a black Jeep, officials said.
At a brief arraignment hearing in Manhattan Criminal Court, Humphrey was ordered held without bail on the charges stemming from his part in starting the fast-escalating spree of violence.
Essig said authorities were still hunting for Sanders and Santiago, with the manhunt expanding beyond New York City.
“We’ve tracked them all over the place,” he said. “They’re very bad guys ... We’re still looking for where these guys are. When these guys are wanted and they’re in New York, we pick them up quick.
“When they know they’re wanted, they leave. It’s been a while and we just want to keep it in the public’s mind.”