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Teen Suspect in Fatal Stray-bullet Shooting of NYC Mom Believed to Be Hiding in Dominican Republic

Officials from the New York City Police Department announced on Thursday that the alleged shooter responsible for the tragic death of an innocent mother caused by a stray gunshot last month was identified as a 17-year-old teenager who is believed to be hiding out in the Dominican Republic.

According to the Chief of Detectives for the NYPD, James Essig, Manuel Ramos, 17, is a person of interest in the shooting that occurred on December 26 and resulted in the death of Valeria Ortega, who was 64 years old and a mother of three.

A stray bullet wounded Ortega in the head as she was walking to a supermarket near her house in Inwood with her son on the day after Christmas. Ortega, who was also a grandmother of three, was walking to the store with her son.

According to the police, Ramos was traveling in a vehicle with two other persons on their way to purchase marijuana when he allegedly shot a gun out of the window at a scooter he suspected was following him and instead hit Ortega.

According to Essig, the investigators located the vehicle and were able to obtain Ramos’ identity from the other two individuals who were traveling in the vehicle. Essig reported that the two individuals in the front indicated they were simply going to get marijuana on 207th Street.

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“A scooter accompanies them on the way there while they are driving. Unbeknownst to them, Manuel was armed and turned around, fired his gun out the window, and hit our elderly relative who was 64 years old. The suspect in the shooting death of Valeria Ortega, 64, a mother who was shot and killed in Manhattan last month has been identified as 17-year-old Manuel Ramos.

The police found out that Ramos fled to the Dominican Republic on January 1, and they are currently attempting to locate him in that Caribbean nation in order to extradite him. Ramos was arrested once before, on December 6 for criminal possession of the stolen property. This is his only prior arrest.

He boarded a plane to the Dominican Republic without a ticket for the flight back. Her husband, who is in mourning, recalled Ortega as “kind and kind” to an excessive degree. Ortega had been a resident of Inwood for the past three decades, and she also leaves behind her mother, who was 101 years old.

Vincente Garcia told ABC-7 Eyewitness News immediately after her passing, “[She was] — a very lovely woman, a doting mother.” Buenisima is Spanish for “very good woman.” “[She was] almost too giving and nice for her own good,” we could say about her.

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