18-year-old killed by stray bullet in New York street row was trying to protect her nine-year-old sister
Marilyn Cotto Montanez, who wasn't involved in the street dispute, died of one gunshot wound to the head around 6.30pm in Yonkers, New York
A high school student who was walking her nine-year-old sister to a convenience store in New York to get the finishing pieces of the youngster's school project last week was shot dead on the way.
According to law enforcement, 18-year-old Marilyn Cotto Montanez was shot in the head around 6.30 pm near Lake and Morningside avenues, Daily Mail reports.
Responding officers from the Yonkers Police Department found Montanez lying on the sidewalk with one gunshot wound to the head. While paramedics attempted medical aid and rushed her to a local trauma center, she was declared dead after she succumbed to her injury at the hospital.
Several people were reportedly involved in an altercation prior to the shooting incident, according to a police statement.
Two young men are seen in surveillance footage, getting out of a vehicle and chasing other people down the street. While shooting in the direction of the group, one of the suspects hit Montanez by mistake, police said.
Montanez was reportedly an innocent bystander who wasn't involved in the dispute, authorities added, saying she was shot in front of her nine-year-old sister.
As a high school junior, Montanez was an active part of the Yonkers Public Schools learning community, per a police statement.
"The City of Yonkers and Yonkers Police Department offers its sincere condolences to the family and friends of Ms. Montanez," police said in the statement.
Police Commissioner Charles Gardner said: "Last night we experienced a tragic event where a young person lost her life due to gun violence. First and foremost, our thoughts and prayers are with the family of the victim. The Yonkers Police is dedicating every available resource to apprehend the person responsible for this heinous act," he continued. "We anticipate an arrest in the near future and will ensure he will be held accountable for his despicable actions."
That said, investigators are still reviewing surveillance video, talking to witnesses, and processing forensic and ballistic evidence collected from the scene.
In a bid to help with funeral expenses as well as funding psychological help for the younger sister, Montanez's family has set up a GoFundMe page. They explained in the description how Montanez was just walking to the store with her sister to help her with her school project.
"Before collapsing she yelled at our 9-year-old sister to run but in a panic, she froze. She only ran once she saw her sister collapse," the account reads.
According to the Montanez family, Marilyn was "full of life and so eager for her future."
"She wanted to go to Farmingdale to pursue nursing and began applying for scholarships to help her pay for it," the family wrote.
Speaking to NBC, Montanez's sister Celimary Ramos said, "They’re killing people for no reason. Little girl didn’t have nothing to do with it… and you all took my sister’s life for no reason."
Family and loved ones left bouquets of flowers and lit candles at the spot where the teenager was killed. While several people of interest are in custody and being interrogated, no one has yet been arrested in connection with the shooting.
Anyone with information regarding this incident is asked to contact the Yonkers Police Detective Division at (914) 377-7724.