She Was Resting With Her Sons. Then a Shot Was Fired. | #College. | #Students

A man in a surgical mask arrived, pulled out a pistol and starting firing at someone near Ms. Vasquez, the police said. One of the bullets hit her in the back of the head, killing her. The man escaped in a car with Pennsylvania plates and has not been caught. The police have raised the amount of a reward twice, now to $10,000, asking for the public’s help.

Like most of the shootings this year, Ms. Vasquez’s death occurred in a pocket of the city that had been struggling with unemployment and violence well before the coronavirus pandemic made matters worse. Victims’ relatives have pleaded for the killing to end, but even vigils for the dead have become targets for shootings.

On a recent August evening, relatives of Ms. Vasquez made a sorrowful pilgrimage to the street where she was shot in the Melrose neighborhood of the Bronx.

Patria Moris, an aunt who had raised Ms. Vasquez after her mother died in a car crash, let out a cry and collapsed next to the altar decorated with candles, tributes and photos of a smiling Ms. Vasquez, her hair dyed blue and blond.

Ms. Vasquez was remembered as a caring mother of three young children. She had recently began a job cleaning for the city’s parks department, family and friends said.

“My sister was a loving and devoted person,” said a sister, Angela Moris, in an email. “Nothing tore her down. No matter how hard the times, she always kept working hard for her kids.”

James Reddick, a local community activist, watched family members console each other.

“How many more do we have to lose?” he wondered aloud. “This is senseless. And it has to stop. We are killing each other for no reason.”

Irene Plagianos and Ali Watkins contributed reporting. Susan C. Beachy contributed research.

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