WASHINGTON HEIGHTS — A 67-year-old grandmother was frying some chicken for dinner Monday afternoon when Michael Powell knocked on her back door, looking for her grandson.
It was a regular occurrence at her modest Washington Heights home. Legit company came through the front door. Any friends of her grandkids knew to knock at the back.
Her 18-year-old grandson and Powell, 24, soon left through the back door, down the porch steps and into the yard.
“They weren’t out the house two minutes, maybe four,” said the grandmother, who asked that her name not be used. "Then, bang, bang, bang, bang, bang!”
Powell, of the 8500 block of South King Drive, died on the scene. His body was crumbled in an awkward way, riddled with bullet holes, she said.
Her grandson crawled back to the porch, where his mother dragged him inside. She checked him for bullet wounds and found none.
The woman did not see the shooting directly, but was close enough to see the muzzle flashes through the kitchen window. Afterwards, she saw two men walking down the gangway between her house and the neighbors', toward the street.
The grandmother said she saw one of the young men hand off a gun to the other in front of her house. Then one of them crossed the street and they walked away.
It infuriated her.
“They walked down the street like nothing happened,” she said. One of the gunmen turned around, looked at her, “and went on his merry way.”
“I was too mad to be scared,” she said. “They know who I am. They know where I live. I ain't hiding. If I could have run — I can't walk none — I would've chased them. Then I saw the body laying there with bullet holes everywhere,” she said.
She said the police later told her it was the work of a “hit squad.”
Her grandson is “upset because the cops put it in his head that this is not over with,” she said. “How would you feel?”
She didn’t know Powell, but heard that the gunmen may have followed him to her home.
“I feel guilty,” she said. “Some young man lost his life at my house. And I’d do anything to know what happened.”
The grandmother said at least eight people have been killed in the neighborhood during the 20 years she has lived in the area, but rarely in broad daylight.
“They have not learned to live in a society with other people,” she said of the shooters. “They just pick up a gun willy-nilly and shoot everything in sight.”
She does not know what her grandson does when he leaves her home, she said, but would not hesitate to hold him accountable for his actions.
“My grandson is obviously associating with the wrong people,” she said. “But I don’t know. I’m not there.”
Explaining she is a Jehovah’s Witness, she said, “We do not fear death.”
“We are not scared of gang bangers. We don’t bother them, but we don’t allow them to intimidate us,” she said.
Powell’s murder is connected to her house, she said. That has made it her business.
“I want to know,” she said. “What could this boy have done."