Syracuse police continue to investigate drive-by shooting that left an 11-year-old girl dead
Police continue to investigate the shooting death of an 11-year old girl on Syracuse’s Southside Monday.
Brexialee Torres-Ortiz was returning home from a convenience store Monday night with a carton of milk in her hands when shots rang out in her neighborhood on Oakwood Ave. She died of gunshot wounds and a 19-year-old man was injured.
In a city used to regular reports of gunshots, this incident has taken concern over gun violence to a higher level.
Syracuse Police Chief Joe Cecile usually begins police briefings with a description of a crime. On Monday, he led with something different: a description of an 11-year old girl shot dead on a cold January night within sight of her home.
"She was president of her fifth grade class, chosen by all the other fifth graders," Cecile said. "Academically, she was in the high honors program. She very was involved in the school dance program, loved to dance. She was referred to as the hall monitor of other students, always giving them value, always making sure they had what they needed to attend their classes and always pushing them to succeed."
Mayor Ben Walsh said the community and her family is now facing unimaginable pain.
"That little girl did nothing wrong," Walsh said. "She walks down the block to get milk for her family. She did nothing wrong and now we’ve lost her."
So how does the community rebound from the loss of a child to gun violence? Lateef Johnson-Kinsey, director of the Mayor’s Office to Reduce Gun Violence, said it starts with everyone grieving together.
"Prayer, us caring for each other, supporting each other, supporting mom, dad and the family, that's number one," Johnson-Kinsey said. "A community does not function without people caring and loving each other."
To help with that, the Syracuse City School District is offering counseling to children and families. Torres-Ortiz was a 5th grader at Blodgett Middle School. Johnson-Kinsey also said the city has coordinated mental health help for anyone who needs to talk about coming to grips with the latest gun violence death involving a child.
All day people laid flowers and balloons at the site of the shooting, across the street from Dr. King Elementary School. Community members also took part in a march and vigil to remember Torres-Ortiz.
Tyrone Mulligan stood near the shooting scene Tuesday with a sign raised against violence. The OG’s Against Violence member said this shooting woke him up.
"I hadn’t had to pull my sign and walk around and do this for a while, because I work so much," Mulligan said. "It's just me sitting at home. I can’t go to sleep. I can’t do anything but just sit there and wonder why, so I’m out here. I’m going to hold my sign and raise some awareness. No one's sleeping on this and [someone's] going to go to jail for this."
No arrests have been made in the case. Police say there is no connection to Torres-Ortiz and the 19-year old who was also shot. They believe he was the intended target and that Torres-Ortiz was simply caught in the crossfire.
Police are asking anyone with information to call (315) 442-5222 or use the TIP411 app to report information anonymously.
Copyright 2023 WRVO. To see more, visit WRVO.