‘We don’t want to see any more kids dying’: Family of slain Bronx teen Angellyh Yambo announces lawsuit against ghost gun manufacturer

Angellyh Yambo press conference
Angellyh Yambo’s family, along with their two attorneys, announced the lawsuit in a press conference on Friday, March 29, 2024.
Photo Emily Swanson

The family of a Bronx teenager who was shot two years ago as she walked home from school announced on Friday that they are suing Polymer 80, the manufacturer of the untraceable “ghost gun” that killed her.

April 8 will mark two years since Angellyh Yambo, 16, was shot and killed while heading home from her South Bronx school. The shooter, Jeremiah Ryan, who was only 17 at the time, did not hit his intended target but instead killed Yambo and wounded two others using a gun assembled from a kit by Polymer 80. As a minor at the time, Ryan would not have been able to buy a gun legally.

At a March 29 press conference, Angellyh’s family were joined by their two attorneys, Anthony Beneduce and Edward Steinberg of Leav and Steinberg, LLP. They stood under the street sign at the intersection of Bailey Avenue and Bailey Place that now bears Angellyh’s name. 

Angellyh Yambo’s mother Yanely Henriquez and father Manuel Yambo hold up a new street sign honoring their late daughter.Photo ET Rodriguez

“These companies have no regard for our youth,” Yanely Henriquez, Angellyh’s mother, said during Friday’s press conference. “I’m a mother who has been broken into a million pieces.” 

Steinberg said it’s time for ghost gun manufacturers to be held accountable.

“They’re flooding a market knowing that danger is gonna happen,” he told the Bronx Times.

Representatives from Polymer 80 did not respond to request for comment, but the website for the Nevada-based company promotes the do-it-yourself nature of its products. 

“Polymer80, Inc. designs and develops innovative firearms and after-market accessories that provide ways for our customer to participate in the build process, while expressing their right to bear arms,” the website reads, adding the company motto, “Engage Your Freedom.”

While taking on the ghost gun manufacturer seems daunting for the family, just bringing the lawsuit is a big step, Henriquez told the Bronx Times. She said it already feels like a win because “my daughter’s name comes attached.”

The intersection at the Fort Independence Houses, where Angellyh Yambo spent her young life, was co-named in her honor in April 2023. Photo Emily Swanson

The lawsuit, filed in the Bronx Supreme Court on March 26, names both Jeremiah Ryan and Polymer 80 as defendants. The complaint alleges that Polymer 80 “intentionally structured their business to circumvent firearms laws” and that it marketed products to minors, people with felony convictions and others who cannot get guns legally. 

The city has identified ghost guns, which can be easily assembled at home using parts bought online, as a major public safety issue. Although the components are illegal to sell and buy in New York, their accessibility via online retailers has made it difficult for law enforcement to control the influx. 

According to Steinberg, this lawsuit is one of the first in the state brought by individuals against a ghost gun manufacturer — but the city and state have already seen some success, which he said is a promising sign.

In June 2022, the city sued five online retailers of ghost guns, and two of the retailers later agreed to stop selling to New York City residents.

New York Attorney General Letitia James also sued 10 gun retailers that ship to New York, including the five sued by the city. James secured a court order to block the companies from selling and shipping to New York, and one of the companies recently agreed to a $7.8M penalty and immediate injunction. The lawsuit against the other nine retailers remains ongoing.

Despite these efforts, ghost guns remain an escalating problem for the NYPD, who recovered nearly 400 ghost guns in 2023, up from only 17 in 2018. The number has steadily increased each year.

Ryan, who killed Angellyh, was sentenced in September 2023 to 15 years to life in prison — but Henriquez said she feels justice was not fully served. 

Ryan never expressed remorse for the shooting, Henriquez said, and given the proliferation of ghost guns in the city, more innocent people are likely to become victims.

Henriquez hopes part of her daughter’s legacy will come in preventing ghost guns from taking another life. 

“We don’t want to see any more kids dying,” she said.

Until the case is resolved — which Steinberg cautioned will take a long time — the Angellyh Yambo Foundation, established by the family in her memory, continues its work engaging with Bronx youth and uniting nonprofit organizations that play a role in keeping kids safe. 

According to Steinberg, most cases take three to five years to work their way through the Bronx courts. But when it comes to restitution, he said, “The family deserves 100%.”

Reach Emily Swanson at eswanson@schnepsmedia.com or (646) 717-0015. For more coverage, follow us on Twitter, Facebook and Instagram @bronxtimes