A man who the police say fatally shot a 19-year-old worker at a Burger King in Upper Manhattan during a botched robbery has been arrested and charged with murder, Mayor Eric Adams and other officials said at news conference on Friday.
The man, Winston Glynn, had entered the fast food restaurant on 116th Street in East Harlem shortly after midnight on Sunday and pulled out a gun, police officials said.
He demanded that an employee behind a register, Kristal Bayron-Nieves, turn over cash, officials said. But as she crouched behind a counter and struggled to find the key to open the machine, authorities said, Mr. Glynn, 30, shot her once. She was struck in the chest and died at a hospital.
Mr. Glynn was charged with several counts including first-degree murder, robbery and criminal use of a firearm, the police said. A lawyer for Mr. Glynn could not immediately be reached on Friday.
As he spoke alongside police officials at the department’s headquarters, Mr. Adams said the fatal shooting was an upsetting example of the gun violence that he made a central part of his campaign last year and has pledged to tackle in City Hall.
“I visited Kristal’s mother and just saw the pain on her face, and saw how much this incident just tore her apart,” Mr. Adams said. “I don’t come to press conferences of arrests. But this one was so personal.”
The killing of Ms. Bayron-Nieves was another painful loss in the section of East Harlem where she worked — a neighborhood where gun violence has become more common.
Shootings across New York City had reached historic lows in 2018 and 2019 but jumped significantly during the pandemic. Experts say the trends showed hopeful signs of improvement in the second half of last year.
But the pace of shootings remains higher than it was before the pandemic and is particularly high in some sections of the city, including East Harlem. A few blocks from the Burger King in East Harlem where Ms. Bayron-Nieves was killed, an off-duty police officer was injured on New Year’s Day when he was struck by a bullet while sleeping in his car outside a station house.
The police said Mr. Glynn had been identified on surveillance video bearing a pair of headphones similar to those he had with him during the shooting. He was arrested late on Thursday at a home address in Brooklyn.
Mr. Glynn had worked at the same Burger King as the shooting victim between April and December 2020, the police said, but officials had no indication that he and Ms. Bayron-Nieves knew each other. Officials said that he had likely planned to rob a store he was familiar with.
Mr. Glynn, who wore a black ski mask, had already taken out $100 from another register before the shooting, the police said.
He had four prior arrests, the authorities said, including for criminal possession of a weapon in an incident during which he brandished a knife.
In the days after Ms. Bayron-Nieves was killed, residents of East Harlem held several vigils, placing pink and white balloons, bouquets of flowers and more than three dozen candles against the entrance to the Burger King.
At one of the memorials, a cousin of Ms. Bayron-Nieves, Kiara Fuentes, described the consequences of an incident that she said was “hurting our family so much.”
“My Kristal didn’t deserve this. She did not wake up thinking she wasn’t going to make it back home,” Ms. Fuentes said. “It’s heartbreaking. This shouldn’t be happening to anyone, especially teenagers.”
The family of the teenager had moved to New York from Puerto Rico a few years ago “in search of a better future,” Diana Ayala, a city councilwoman whose nephew is a cousin of Ms. Bayron-Nieves, wrote on social media after the shooting.
Ms. Bayron-Nieves had recently received her G.E.D. and was working at Burger King to save money as she planned her future, Nathalie Pagan, a family friend, told the New York Daily News this week.
The chief of department, Kenneth Corey, said on Friday that officials were trying to determine whether Mr. Glynn has a mental illness.
“That could be an issue here,” Chief Corey said. “Maybe he’s a person who, had he gotten services earlier on, we could have saved this woman’s life.”
At a memorial event this week, Ms. Ayala, who represents parts of East Harlem and the South Bronx, said she worried about ripples of trauma that could persist after the shooting.
The teenager’s 14-year-old brother had been the one to receive the call that she had died in the hospital, she said.
“That’s trauma that stays with us for years. Many of us grew up in the same conditions,” Ms. Ayala said. “It is inhumane and cruel to continue to allow communities of color to live under these circumstances.”