The broad-daylight murder of a 21-year-old woman in front of her East 163rd Street apartment building has sparked her neighbors to say, “enough is enough.”
Aisha Morales was shot in the head on Tuesday, June 28, just after 4 p.m. on the corner of East 263rd Street and Southern Boulevard. She died at Lincoln Hospital shortly thereafter.
Two days later, residents of Morales’ 1018 East 163rd street apartment building hit the street and staged a protest with the message: they had seen too much violence.
Morales’ family and friends held back tears while taking part in the protest. Over 100 people chanted and carried signs saying “No More Guns.” The victim’s mother, Natalie Ortiz, has lived in the building for 32 years. She hoped her daughter’s death would be a wake-up call.
“I hope this experience would be an example for everyone,” she said. “Everyone who wants to fight, everyone who wants to pick up a gun, everyone who wants to kill somebody.”
Morales’ murder was the third this year within the 41st Precinct. The protest was organized by Reverend Dimas Salaberrios, a pastor with Infinity New York Church, which is based in the Bronx River housing project.
Salaberrios said that when he learned about Morales’ murder, within a month after 15-year-old Bronx girl Yvette Marie Torres was killed by gunfire on Valentine Avenue and the same day recent Truman High School graduate Isayah Muller was stabbed to death, he felt compelled to bring the community together.
“Torres being shot leaving a party caught our attention, and then we heard abut young Muller,” Salaberrios said. The night before the protest, Salaberrios got a call from Morales’ uncle. I said, ‘wow, we can’t allow this to keep happening.’”
Salaberrios has been working out of the Bronx River Houses for the past six years. Homicide prevention is a major part of his ministry.
“We target who we think in the community is likely to be re-arrested,” he said. “If they end up back in jail, we are the ones who reach out to them. The fact that we are the only ones there for them after that arrest gives us some credibility.”
Some younger residents of 163rd Street expressed pessimism about whether the violence would come to an end.
“I think this murder is going to make it worse,” said 15-year-old Alanna Morales. “What if some other people get mad now?”
Protestor and 1018 E. 163rd Street resident Chevelle Bowles said the best way to stop youth violence is through parenting and adult leadership.
“People need to teach their children better,” she said. “We want them to choose to walk away.”
Police said that as of Tuesday, July 5, no arrests had been made in the case.