Hazmat suit-wearing gunman busted for Manhattan deli slay, ‘another example of pointless, avoidable violence’
A hazmat suit-wearing gunman wanted for killing a popular Manhattan deli worker during a robbery was nabbed by NYPD cops Thursday, according to police.
Kimond Cyrus, an ex-con who once did time for felony assault, was wanted for killing the popular grocery store clerk and ripping off at least three other stores — “another example of pointless, avoidable violence,” NYPD Chief of Department Jeffrey Maddrey said Thursday.
Cyrus, 39, was caught near his home in the Bronx around 10:40 a.m. and taken to the 42nd Precinct stationhouse for questioning, cops said.
He was charged with murder and criminal possession of a weapon. His arraignment in Manhattan Criminal Court was pending late Thursday night.
The first break in the case came Sunday when a tipster called the NYPD’s Crime Stoppers hotline and reported seeing the suspect, wearing military fatigues and riding a blue moped, entering a bodega near Crotona Park in the Bronx.
Police then tracked him using surveillance video entering a nearby apartment building, where he was also caught on camera the night of the murder.
On Tuesday night, his white hazmat suit was found behind a building on Park Ave. near E. 158th St. in Concourse Village.
Police tracked the suspect on video after he killed Daona Gourmet Deli worker Sueng Choi, 67, while pistol-whipping him during a botched robbery on the Upper East Side on Friday.
“This was good-old fashioned police work,” Mayor Adams said at a Thursday press conference.
The killer, who got away with only a tray of lighters after the slaying, struck twice days earlier in Brooklyn, according to cops.
On March 1, he robbed the Super Deli Market on Manhattan Ave. in Greenpoint. The gunman “calmly” demanded all the money in the register and five cartons of cigarettes.
A similar robbery took place the night of Feb. 25 at the Sunset Bagel Shop in Ditmas Park. The crook placed a food order, announced a robbery, then fled with cash and several cell phones, police said.
The building the hazmat suit was found behind is a five-minute walk from the Ya Ya Deli on Melrose Ave. and E. 160th St. The crook robbed that store 22 minutes after killing Choi, arriving and leaving on the same scooter, according to cops.
Maddrey said Thursday that the department is working to improve the speed with which it notifies public of crimes, particularly those with an established pattern.
“It was another senseless shooting committed without any thought or fear of consequences,” the chief said. “Criminals must know they cannot act with impunity.”
Customers had worried about Choi working overnight shifts alone.
“He knows it’s a dangerous place to work,” Choi’s ex-wife Jenny Chon, 66, told the Daily News earlier this week. “I don’t talk to him much, but every time I talk to him on the phone, maybe once a year, he tells me it’s dangerous.”
Cyrus plead guilty to felony assault in 2003 after a violent Midtown Manhattan attack a year earlier. He beat a man and sprayed him in the eyes with a liquid that burned him before hitting him over the head with a glass bottle, records show. As his victim laid on the sidewalk, Cyrus swiped his wallet from his pocket.
He also has a 2009 arrest for operating a motor vehicle while impaired and a 2020 arrest for jumping bail in Mount Vernon.
Choi’s murder prompted a plea from the NYPD and Adams for store owners to ask customers to unmask themselves upon entering a shop — at least long enough for their faces to be seen.
“Once you show the store owner who you are and everything’s OK, if you don’t feel comfortable in the store without your mask on, by all means put it back on,” Maddrey said Monday. “But we should be helping one another to feel safe.”
On Thursday, Adams told reporters that masks make police work and identifying suspects more difficult.
“Face masks protected us from COVID but it is really allowing criminals to exploit this,” Hizzoner said while holding a black surgical mask. “We can have public safety and health. They go together.”
With Molly Crane-Newman