NEW YORK CITY, NY – The suspect allegedly behind the murder of woman that was committed in broad daylight in New York City, and captured on surveillance footage, has been identified by authorities.
Reportedly, the victim who was shot in the head by the assailant on camera is the suspect’s ex-girlfriend.
On April 21st, surveillance footage captured the murder of 51-year-old Nichelle Thomas, which the victim suffered a close-range gunshot wound to the head as she was walking down a sidewalk at approximately 1:00 p.m. in the area of Fourth Ave and Saint Marks Place.
Authorities say that the individual that shot Thomas in the back of the head is 38-year-old Latisha Bell, who is apparently the ex-girlfriend of the victim.
As seen on the video, the suspect runs up behind the victim and place is a handgun right against the back of her head before pulling the trigger and fleeing the scene.
Following the shooting, Thomas was rushed to an area hospital, where she was pronounced deceased.
Investigators believe that the motive behind the murder is heavily influenced by something pertaining to the former relationship between the victim and the suspect.
According to reports, Bell and Thomas’ relationship had been dissolved for roughly three years at the time of Thomas’ murder.
The Bell’s sister, who wished to remain unnamed in a media report, attributed blame to the murder victim regarding the incident, proclaiming that Thomas was trying to rekindle their relationship and that Bell was mentally ill:
“When my sister left her she should have kept going…You don’t play with the mentally ill.”
Brooklyn Assistant District Attorney Wilfredo Cotto noted that police records show that the suspect and victim have a collective 13 domestic incident reports related to their previous relationship.
Bell, according to ADA Cotto, was the listed aggressor in 10 of those incidents.
'As Thomas went to open the door, 38-year-old Latisha Bell allegedly sprinted up and pulled a gun. Bell then allegedly shot Thomas point-blank in the back of the head and fled. The chilling nine-second video ends with the victim crumbling to the ground.'https://t.co/OUQSgu01g3
— Rob Rand Wants Justice for the Menendez Brothers (@MenendezRand) April 22, 2021
Local bodega cashier Mohammed Ali was one of the witnesses that heard the gunshot go off and then later found Thomas on the ground, with the bodega cashier saying the following about the incident:
“I’ve been working here for 12 years and I’ve never seen anything like this.”
“It’s scary. If the bullet hadn’t hit her, I might have been the one hit.”
Ali stated that when he had found Thomas, she was “lying face up on the sidewalk and above her eyes was a hole with blood coming out.”
Hours after the fatal shooting, Bell, while accompanied by her attorney, had reportedly surrendered to authorities at the 78th precinct station house.
The 38-year-old suspect, according to the criminal complaint lodged against her, allegedly stated the following upon turning herself in at the police precinct:
“I am turning myself in for the homicide…The gun is inside the bag. I need to talk to the homicide detective. I did the shooting.”
Police say that Bell gave authorities a .38 caliber handgun that was inside of a bag while turning herself in.
Bell was reportedly charged with murder and criminal possession of a weapon. During her arraignment at the Brooklyn Criminal Court, Bell was ordered to be held without bond.
The fatal shooting is reportedly the first recorded within the Park Slope neighborhood this year.
In other news related to New York City, we at Law Enforcement Today reported earlier in April about the rising level of sexual assault cases impacting the city.
Here’s that previous report.
NEW YORK CITY, NY – New York City has experienced a concerning uptick in sexual assaults, with the period between March 29th to April 4th having seen a 322% increase in reported sexual assaults from the same timeframe in the prior year.
My latest quotes in the @nypost
— Joseph L. Giacalone (@JoeGiacalone) April 11, 2021
In the week prior, March 22nd to March 28th, there was a 125% increase in sexual assaults when compared to the same time last year. When looking at March 15th to March 21st, sexual assaults wind up increasing by 94%.
When examining this data with respect to the increase of sexual assaults in New York City, retired NYPD sergeant and current teacher at John Jay College of Criminal Justice Joseph Giacalone stated the following:
“I don’t think this is a coincidence. People are out going to bars and restaurants again at 50 percent capacity.
“As New Yorkers get vaccinated and start venturing out to the bar and nightclub scene, just beware of your surroundings and who you hang out with. Don’t let your guard down, don’t drink to excess, and never leave a friend behind.”
NYPD data shows that out of the 174 reported rapes within New York City that reportedly occurred between January 1st and April 4th, only 14 of them were allegedly committed by strangers versus 160 of them having been committed by “acquaintances.”
However, an NYPD spokeswoman wanted to point out that reported rapes occurring within the city have collectively declined in 2021 when compared to the year prior, noting that it’s more favorable to observe data in larger quantities to determine potential trends of criminal behavior:
“We remain in unprecedented times amid the continuing strains of COVID-19. It’s always preferable to view crime statistics over a long period, to determine trends particularly during this ongoing pandemic. Year-to-date, rape complaints have declined by 13 percent.
“However, we acknowledge that rape is an underreported crime and we encourage victims and survivors to always please come forward.”
One of the many reported sexual assaults that have plagued New York City as of late occurred during the early morning hours of March 27th within the Flatbush area near Beverly Rd and Rogers Ave.
Police allege that a male suspect had attacked a 24-year-old woman as she was entering her apartment building. Authorities say that the male suspect physically and sexually assaulted the woman on the stairs and fled the area once she began to yell.
Christopher Bromson, executive director of the Crime Victims Treatment Center in Manhattan noted that there has been a sudden increase in hospital admissions for sexual assault survivors:
“In the past month we have seen a steady increase in the number of victims going to hospitals for sexual assault care.”
Bromson says that as the weather gets to a more palatable state in concurrence with more people obtaining their vaccinations, scenarios where one could become the victim of a sexual assault could reasonably increase under those conditions:
“As vaccinations increase and the weather gets nicer, I think we’re all feeling the excitement of getting back out. So many of us are so understandably yearning for the contact that we’ve missed over the past year that we may not be as self-protective as we normally would.
“And while no one should have to be self-protective to avoid being sexually assaulted, it remains a vulnerability that can be exploited by someone looking to cause harm.”
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