U.W.S. Killing tied to Harlem robbery

| 19 Jun 2015 | 07:14

Police believe the people who killed a shopkeeper at an Amsterdam Avenue T-shirt shop during a robbery attempt Thursday afternoon could also have robbed a similar store at gunpoint in Harlem early Tuesday morning.

Two of three men pictured in surveillance footage taken around the time of Thursday’s attempted robbery at BNC General Merchandise, on Amsterdam between 104th and 105th streets, bear a “striking resemblance” to suspects in a robbery on Adam Clayton Powell Jr. Boulevard, a police source said. Although one shot was fired during the Harlem robbery, according to a police wanted poster, police did not say whether anyone was hit.

On Amsterdam Avenue, though, Bubacarr Camera, of Gerard Avenue in the Bronx, was killed during what the police source called a “botched robbery” at around 12:35 p.m. Officers found Camera, 26, with “severe head trauma” inside the store. He was taken to St. Luke’s Hospital, where he was pronounced dead.

On Friday afternoon, several people gathered outside the store, where a makeshift memorial of daisies and carnations and reminiscences written on cardboard paper were affixed to the store’s gate and placed on the ground.

Samuel Rios, a former neighborhood resident, said he had dropped in to the shop earlier in the day to pay for a T-shirt that Camera, a recent arrival from Gambia, had fronted him.

Rios said Camera was reciting prayers from the Koran. Thursday was the first day of Ramadan, the Islamic holy month of fasting, introspection and prayer.

The two exchanged Ramadan greetings, said Rios, 36, who said he had lived on West 105 Street for about 13 years but now lives in Toms River, N.J.

“It’s going to be hot,” Rios said he told Camera, whom he described as “a very nice guy” who endeavored to treat the shop’s customers as more than just patrons.

“I don’t know what to say,” Rios said on Friday. “I’m very confused.”

The mostly residential stretch of Amsterdam abounds with commercial activity, with delis, beauty and barber shops, a popular fruit and vegetable market, and restaurants offering outdoor seating.

The killing is the year’s first within the 24th Precinct’s confines, according to police data. Citing the investigation, police officials, including at the precinct, declined to provide details about the killing, including about the weapon used.

A police officer, however, said that detectives from throughout the city were investigating. “They’re hot on this case,” he said.

BNC General Merchandise, sandwiched between a nail salon and a jewelry store, is across Amsterdam from Bloomingdale Playground, where on Friday afternoon dozens of small children were playing. On the corner of 105th Street, children and their parents lined up to by flavored ices from a cart parked in the shade of the YMCA’s Grosvenor Neighborhood House.

On light poles and parking signs nearby, police posters advertised a $2,500 reward for information about Camera’s killing.

Images of the suspects were taken from a nearby surveillance camera and distributed by police. They described one of three suspects, all of them black, as wearing sunglasses, a gray, hooded sweatshirt, blue jeans, black sneakers and a black book bag. A second man was pictured wearing gray pants, a black Reebok sweatshirt and a white hat. The third man was wearing a white T-shirt, a gray sleeveless hooded sweatshirt with geometric patterns, black pants and white sneakers.

Police ask that anyone with information about the homicide call the NYPD’s Crime Stoppers Hotline at 800-577-TIPS.

The public can also submit information via the Crime Stoppers Website at www.nypdcrimestoppers.com or by texting to 274637(CRIMES) and entering TIP577. All calls will be kept strictly confidential, police said.