Jesse Parrilla, 22, and his passenger Nikki Huang, 23, were found dead inside a burnt out car in the Bronx on Sunday, cllateral damage from of gang war
They had been kidnapped and executed gangland style, before their bodies were left in Parrilla’s burning car
Police said the ex-college hoopster found shot and burned was an innocent bystander in deadly NYC gang war: sources
Parrilla, an ex-college basketball player, seems to have been innocent bystander
Huang sparked gang war by telling friends who were gang members, she’d been mugged and her purse stolen a rival crew on Saturday
A series of retaliatory shootings followed, culminating in the kidnapping
Parrilla who was just giving Huang a ride in his car and had no gang affiliation was in the wrong place at the wrong time, cops said
Police in New York City investigating a case of double-homicide and arson are piecing together the motive in a gangland double murder in the Bronx that appears to have stemmed from a dispute over a stolen purse.
Nikki Huang, 23, and Jesse Parrilla, 22, were kidnapped in the Bronx on Sunday, and their bullet-riddled bodies were found early the following morning in a burning car at the Pelham/Split Rock Golf Course. Cops believe that Parrilla, who knew Huang from middle school and was just giving her a ride, had no involvement in the gang beef that she triggered by telling her hoodlum friends she was mugged by members of a rival crew, according to the New York Post.
Huang owned Nails by Nikki, a nail salon in Chinatown, and appears to have triggered a series of shootings and retaliations between the Up the Hill gang and their archenemies in the Down the Hill gang.
Parrilla was not a part of deadly beef between the rival Up the Hill and the Down the Hill crews, the sources said and only wound up getting mixed up in the bloodshed while spending time with Huang. “Right now it looks like he was in the wrong place at the wrong time,” one Manhattan cop said.
“He has no criminal record. It looks like he was just hanging out with Nikki
Parilla’s mother, Michelle Morales, who owned the car the pair was killed in, said her son knew Huang from middle school.
“He was a good-hearted person just helping a friend out with a ride,” she said through tears. “I don’t think he was aware of anything. He had no idea what was going on because he would never put himself in a situation like that.
“I’m so angry and devastated and hurt that my son was taken away from me just like that. The last words he said to me when I was finally able to talk to him was, ‘I love you.’”
The bodies of the tragic young couple were found in the charred car around 4:30 a.m. Monday at the Pelham/Split Rock Golf Course in the Bronx — with few clues to help cops.
But detectives now suspect that the tragic series of events that led to the young couple being shot to death and burned were sent in motion after Huang was robbed near a housing project on the Lower East Side.
Her assailants were allegedly members of a local crew that calls itself the Down the Hill Gang, law enforcement sources said.
The young woman, whose family owns a nail salon and a restaurant in the Lower East Side, happened to have friends in the rival Up the Hill gang. Instead of going to police, she complained about the crime to them.
Police sources said the two gangs are second-generation NYC crews, with Down the Hill calling Alphabet City its turf and Up the Hill controlling the Lower East Side.
They are not affiliated with national gangs that have been immersed in turf wars for years as far off as San Francisco, and as close by as Paterson, New Jersey.
And apparently the rivalry in Manhattan is so strong that they didn’t let the robbery of Huang, who lost cash and credit cards in addition to her purse, slide.
Sources said the payback began Sunday with a series of shootings.
A 39-year-old reputed member of the Down the Hill gang, Brandon Atkinson, was shot in the head at the corner of Avenue D and East Third Street in Alphabet City around 11:18 p.m. Sunday, cops said.
It wasn’t known if Atkinson was actually the mugger who stole the purse. First responders found him lying unconscious in the crosswalk, medics rushed him to Bellevue Hospital but he could not be saved.
The Down the Hill gang’s pay back came quickly, as less than an hour later, two Up the Hill members were shot and wounded on Pike Street.
They then continued their vengeance by going after Huang herself.
Police believe that Down the Hill members targeted her for kidnapping on Sunday night while she was hanging out with Parrilla.
After the two friends were abducted and held by the Down the Hill gang, members tried to exact further revenge by forcing the young Huang at gun point to betray a friend of hers.
She was ordered her to lure him out of his house in Queens into an ambush, with a phone call.
Police said the victim, Maurice Sullivan, 27, was taking out his trash in Maspeth when a dark-colored vehicle pulled up around 2:20 a.m. and shot the victim in the left side of the face.
Tragically, the bloodletting wasn’t over, as Huang and her friend Parrilla would be the last to die. Sometime after she called Sullivan, the victims were then driven to a quiet, leafy area near the popular Bronx golf course, where they were shot gangland-style and the car, owned by Parrilla’s mom, was set ablaze.
Huang worked at Wa Lung Kitchen, a Chinese restaurant in the Lower East Side owned by her mother, who also owns Nails by Nikki, a nearby nail salon.
“She was tough, she was a strong girl,” said Dean Ford, a former classmate at PS 110 and Tompkins Square Middle School.
“But she was a loyal friend. She had a nice smile.”
Neighbor Imam Choudhury, who said his wife once babysat Parrilla, said Morales was “screaming and crying” after getting the news of her only son’s death on Monday.
“She couldn’t stand,” Choudhury said. “Her relatives had to hold her up.”
“This is very tragic,” Ford added.
“It’s just a terrible way to go out. I feel bad for her family. Somebody has to be real evil to do something like that.”
Parrilla, who played basketball for Genesee Community College for one year, hoped to be a business owner after his hopes for an NBA career seemed less likely, his mother told The Post.
“I’m trying to hold on,” Morales said. “I got a call from the police regarding my car. He called and I confirmed the car. I said the driver is my son.
“I found out he had passed from the detective,” she said. “I screamed.
“I want justice for my son,” she added. “I want whoever did this to come forward.”