MIDTOWN — The skating rink at Bryant Park reopened Sunday morning following a nighttime shooting at the popular tourist attraction the day before in which a 14-year-old boy and 20-year-old man were injured, police and the park said.
The suspected gunman was standing outside the packed ice rink at Fifth Avenue and West 40th Street, part of a seasonal attraction called Winter Village, and opened fire at around 11 p.m. Saturday, police said.
Adonis Mera, 14, an avid skater, was shot in the back and leg and rushed to Bellevue Hospital in serious condition, while the 20-year-old skater was shot in the hand and hip, and was expected to recover quickly, officials said. Mera's brother Jorge Arias, 24, told reporters they feared he would be paralyzed from the wound in his back. "He's a baby, he's a little kid," he said. Arias added that he didn't know if Mera was conscious. "I didn't really try to talk to him, I just wanted to see his face," he said.
The alleged gunman was arrested at his Bronx home Sunday, and charges were pending, police said. An NYPD spokesman said it appeared the shooter had targeted the 20-year-old skater in some kind of dispute involving a possibly stolen coat. Mera skated by and wound up in the crosshairs, police said.
Bryant Park invited patrons back to the attraction Sunday, announcing the rink's reopening in a 9:45 a.m. tweet. "As you may have heard, there was a senseless act of violence last night that left two wounded. Our hearts go out to the wounded and their families, and to those who were at the park during that time," the message sent by
"We are cooperating fully with authorities, who agree that it is safe to reopen. Please come by the park today and show that one person's behavior can't put a damper on the Winter Village!"
The invitation came less than 12 hours after the gunfire sent patrons tearing into the street still wearing their rented ice skates, an employee said. He declined to give his name, saying it was against company policy.
As cheery classics and Christmas tunes pumped out over the ice rink Sunday morning, and young children skated with their parents as couples held hands and carved circles in the ice, the employee who witnessed the attack said he was surprised to see everything return to normal so quickly.
The worker, who helps assist customers on the rink, said 200 skaters were on the ice when the shots rang out. People scattered in all directions, leaving behind their street footwear and running off still laced into ice skates, he said.
Though some had returned Sunday morning, the rink "lost a substantial amount of inventory," he said.
The executive director of the Bryant Park Corporation said they reopened because the incident seemed isolated, and that missing skates were "obviously not important," in light of the shootings.
The rink had an added NYPD presence and a high number of private security guards after the shooting, said Dan Biederman, who runs the Bryant Park Corporation. "Keeping the rink closed wouldn't have done anything to remedy last night's incident," he said. "Obviously it doesn't do anything to make the injuries of the teenager who was severely hurt any better. We weren't going to protect anybody by keeping it closed."
Upsilon Ventures, which run the Winter Village, would not comment on the shooting.
A Parks Department worker who has worked at the rink for two years said he was also surprised that Sunday it seemed as if nothing had happened.
"I don't think it should be open," he said, adding that as a father, he brings both of his children to the rink but had never felt unsafe there before.
"It shouldn't affect people," said Doran Adary, 47, who runs a booth. "Stuff like this happens randomly everywhere in any borough. It shouldn't keep people home."