Cops collared two masked men who followed a 45-year-old to the door of his Bronx Park East apartment and bashed his head in with loaded guns on Black Friday, Nov. 29, according to a police report.
But two weeks later, police at the 49th Precinct are still unsure why the victim was targeted. Such crimes are labeled “home invasions” and are usually drug related. But a canine sweep of the man’s apartment, as well as detective research, showed that the victim had no history of being involved in the drug trade, police said.
“We think at this point that it’s a case of mistaken identity,” said Deputy Inspector Lorenzo Johnson, commanding officer at the Four-Nine.
A Bloody Tangle
The two men were arrested as they attempted to flee the scene outside 2108 Bronx Park East, according to the police report. The alleged robbers made it to the threshold of the victim’s apartment before a witness called 911, Johnson said.
A unit arrived to find the bloodied 45-year-old victim, who confirmed that he had been followed inside and then bludgeoned.
Meanwhile, outside on the street, a Sergeant N. Bakraqi on plainclothes patrol who got the original dispatch noticed two men walking away from the building. When an unmarked backup police vehicle arrived at the scene, the two men reversed direction.
Bakraqi approached the men, at which point they started running. One of them dropped a gun into nearby bushes. Moments later, the sergeant managed to grab on of the suspects, while his partner, an Officer R. Morales, grabbed the other, according to the report.
Police recovered a full bounty of tools that suggest the men had plans to enter the apartment and take on whoever was inside. They found masks, gloves and handcuffs.
But when cops entered the victim’s apartment they found nothing of value, Johnson said. The rooms were filled with piles of junk.
“It looked like a hoarder’s apartment,” Bakraqi said.
Cops are still searching for an accomplice who was part of the hallway struggle and another who waited outside as a getaway driver.
Guns off street
The two arrested suspects, Nelson Merced, 32, and David Rivera, 46, were ordered held on $500,000 and $250,000 bail respectively. Both have prior arrests for narcotics possession and robbery.
The home invasion arrest was rare, Johnson said. Since most home invasions take place between drug dealers, they usually aren’t reported.
This time, the Four-Nine was up to the task.
“Thanks to our police work, we took two guns off the street and two bad guys,” Johnson said. “Hopefully we can lock them up for a long time.”