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DA Says Harlem Man Fired Aimlessly Into Crowd, Killed Cheyenne Baez

By DNAinfo Staff on October 13, 2010 9:28am  | Updated on October 14, 2010 8:49am

By Jeff Mays, Olivia Scheck and Shayna Jacobs

DNAinfo Reporter/Producer

MANHATTAN — A convicted felon who prosecutors said recklessly fired at least three shots into a crowd of more than 50 people in a Harlem courtyard, resulting in the death of a beloved teenager, was charged with two counts of murder and held without bail late on Wednesday.

Prosecutors said Boris Brown, 20, of Central Harlem, killed 17-year-old Cheyenne Baez, an innocent bystander who tried to run away from the chaos that unfolded in the courtyard of the Jackie Robinson Houses on East 128th Street after 1 a.m. on Oct. 3.

After Brown and a posse of friends entered the courtyard, one of them shouted "Shakedown!" three times before Brown pulled a gun "and fired a number of shots" at random into the crowd, Assistant District Attorney Natallia Krauchuk said at his criminal court arraignment Wednesday evening.

Brown was "not aiming at anything specifically" when he fired away, Krauchuk added.

Baez, a student at the Urban Assembly School of Business for Young Women, was fatally shot in the upper back. She was pronounced dead on arrival at Harlem Hospital, police said.

Brown, who the DA said has "approximately four" previous felony convictions, is also charged with shooting a 30-year-old unidentified man who was struck by a bullet in the thigh the night Baez was killed.

Brown's lawyer, Orlando Balcacer, called the teen's death an "unfortunate tragedy," but said he has information that "someone else was the shooter" who killed the young woman.  

Residents and friends at the East Harlem building where Baez was killed breathed a sigh of relief Wednesday at the news that a suspect had been arrested for her murder.

"Thank God. I'm so happy. She was just too young to get killed like that," said Tiffany Tyler.

"She was a lovely child," said another resident who gave her name as Theresa. "This is still such a sad situation but I'm glad they caught the person."

Baez's death helped spur a recent initiative by local Rev. Vernon Williams, who wants to institute a citywide curfew for people under the age of 18.

"I was so surprised that this happened to her. I've known her since she was three and she was just a wonderful girl who was always happy and always polite," said Rosemary Panoy. "Now, I feel much happier that they have the person who did this."

A photo montage of Cheyenne Baez outside of a building on Lexington Avenue.
A photo montage of Cheyenne Baez outside of a building on Lexington Avenue.
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DNAInfo/Jeff Mays