CHINATOWN — A man believed to be responsible for the execution-style murder of two Chinatown women in an apartment last month, was yanked off a Hong Kong-bound flight at JFK Airport moments before takeoff Monday, according to the New York Post.
The Joint Terrorism Task Force, NYPD and PAPD cops pulled the man of a Delta flight, the Post reported. The paper did not identify the suspect by name.
"He was already in his seat. The doors were closing and the jet was preparing to take off. As soon as this guy saw us, he knew he was had," a source told the Post, describing the man as a "hard-core gang member" with "tattoos on his fingers and hands."
The sources told the Post that police believe the man is behind the execution-style killing of Xiao Ling Li, 70, and Yong Hua Chen, 36, on June 29. Their bodies were discovered in a ground-level apartment at 83 Henry St. that was set ablaze in an apparent coverup, officials said.
Since the crime, detectives have been investigating a link between the murders and the underground Chinatown loan system called the "Hui," according to AM New York. Chen may have been in debt to the system when she was killed, a NYPD spokesman told the paper.
The man pulled off the plane to Hong Kong has not been charged with the murders because there isn't enough evidence yet, a source told the Post, and will remain in custody on an unrelated charge as the investigation continues.
The Henry Street building where the shooting occured has a reputation for illegal activities such as gambling and prostitution, according to community leaders and police sources.
"There is a lot of business there," said Eddie Chiu, of the Lin Sing neighborhood Association where Li was a member.
He said Li worked as a babysitter and cook for Chen when both women were murdered.