Kyhara Tay’s death centers on the cost of young lives in the city’s latest gun violence saga

Foxhurst shooting vigil
Near the intersection of Fox Street and Westchester Avenue locals visit a memorial after the Monday shooting of an 11-year-old Bronx girl.
Photo Pablo D. Castillo Jr.

On Monday, the scene of Foxhurst’s Westchester Avenue and Fox Street — an atypical Bronx street island adorned with local storefronts and soundtracked by the rumblings of the above-ground 5 train — was interrupted by chaotic gunfire.

The intended target of Monday’s erratic gunfire, and the shooters themselves, left unscathed and remain at large. But 11-year-old Kyhara Tay’s life was ended by a stray bullet hailing from reckless gunfire during a broad daylight drive-by shooting just before 5 p.m.

Kyhara Tay, 11, was tragically killed by a stray bullet while on Westchester Avenue on Tuesday, May 17. Photo courtesy Adrian Childress

“I didn’t know if it was a gun shot or the train on the track, it’s hard to tell sometimes,” said one witness who worked at a nearby liquor store and wished to remain anonymous. “But then when you hear the commotion, the crying, the sirens — your heart just drops when you find out it was a kid.”

While police are intently looking for the suspects involved in Kyhara’s untimely death, including offering a reward of up to $10,000, the Foxhurst community mourned the loss of an “outgoing and adventurous” girl lost to the city’s latest chapter of gun violence.

“She was real outgoing, adventurous, willing to try new things, just like a bundle of joy,” a family friend, who didn’t want provide their name, told the Bronx Times at a makeshift memorial erected at the site of the shooting Tuesday that was visited by Kyhara’s family. “Any parent would ask for her as a child. Good grades, focused in school.”

Much of what transpired on Monday — outside of the the identity and whereabouts of Kyhara’s assailant — is being pieced together through by testimonies of Foxhurst residents.

She was shot while on Westchester Avenue in the Foxhurst neighborhood at a nail salon with an older friend — a block over from where shots were fired — when Kyhara was struck by a bullet in the stomach. She was rushed to Lincoln Hospital by EMS on Monday but later succumb to her injuries.

Witnesses like Maya Jones, who was getting her nails done at the salon when the shooting occurred right outside, recounted the horror of the 11-year-old’s last moments, repeatedly saying “ow” and holding her stomach before passing out shortly thereafter.

Eyewitnesses recalled efforts to save Kyhara’s life, such as one account to the Daily News of a woman trying to stop the little girl’s bleeding with just a handful of napkins outside the salon.

Police erect a wanted poster, offering up to $10,000 for information leading to the arrest of Kyhara Tay’s killer. Photo Adrian Childress

Theoff Pendravis, who lives around the block, told the Bronx Times he saw one of the suspects — on the rear of the scooter — fire the shot that struck Kyhara, who was of Puerto Rican and Cambodian descent.

The two men on the scooter, both wearing dark-colored sweatshirts, immediately fled from the scene of the shooting, heading north on Fox Street. The NYPD have a reward of up to $10,000 for identification of the two suspects that leads to an arrest.

According to Assistant Chief Philip Rivera, commanding officer of Patrol Borough Bronx, the trouble began as two men on a scooter chased the intended male target through the area. While on Fox Street, one of the scooter rider’s pulled out a gun and opened fire at the man.

Fox Street was the scene of visceral sorrow at the memorial on Tuesday, where white balloons were released into the air. It was also a scene for Bronx pols and residents to express sentiments that range between “same old, same old” and “this must stop” in regards to gun violence in the Bronx, and the city as a whole.

Family, friends and members of the Foxhurst community release white balloons into the air at a makeshift memorial on Tuesday, May 17. Photo Adrian Childress

For the community of Foxhurst, which is in the Bronx’s 41st Precinct where major crime has spiked 41% since the turn of the calendar, Monday’s shooting — for some of the South Bronx — is sadly normalized.

“It doesn’t change, the victims sadly, just keep getting younger and younger,” said Ernest Watson, 45, who has lived in the Foxhurst section for 30-plus years. “But it’s not just the victims getting younger, these kids are getting their hands on guns, getting their advice from lifelong criminals, and it’s just sad all around.”

Bronx beep Vanessa Gibson reiterated the tragedy in the city’s evergreen gun violence problem is that victims are getting younger and younger.

The Westchester Avenue memorial grew following the fatal shooting of Kyhara Tay, 11. Photo Pablo D. Castillo Jr.

“We try so hard to keep our families safe yet our children are dying before our eyes. We are failing when we can’t keep our children safe,” the borough president tweeted on Tuesday. “Another family has lost a child. More anger. More hurt. More pain. More sadness.”

As of late April, at least 40 children and teenagers in the city had been shot so far this year, with Kyhara, the second young child to be shot in the Bronx in 2022.

In January, an 11-month-old girl, just days away from her first birthday, was shot in the face while sitting in a car with her mother in the Bronx. That girl left the hospital just days ago after having to relearn how to eat again.

Tears are shed by members of Kyhara Tay’s family. Tay, 11, was gunned down on Tuesday. Photo Adrian Childress

At the site of the Foxhurst shooting, which took place in his district, Councilmember Rafael Salamanca was visibly shaken by Monday’s tragedy and called for tougher sentences for those convicted of gun charges and tougher restrictions for gun holders.

“Gun violence is a issue here in the state and gun violence is an issue here at the heart of the South Bronx,” Salamanca said. “(These offenders) know that there’s a revolving door (in prison) if they get caught with a gun in the state of New York … gun laws make me my constituents feel unsafe and they need to change.”

Reach Robbie Sequeira at rsequeira@schnepsmedia.com or (718) 260-4599. For more coverage, follow us on Twitter, Facebook and Instagram @bronxtimes

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