On January 31st, 2023, Tyrone Holley, a 60-year-old ex-convict out on parole, was arrested and charged with the January 7th shooting death of 39-year-old Omar Espinal outside a pizzeria in Harlem, New York City.
Both men had criminal records leading up to this incident. Holley had served three prior sentences in state prison before being paroled in 2022 after 17 years behind bars. Espinal had eight previous arrests, including a 2013 federal cocaine trafficking case that resulted in a 5-year prison sentence.
Details of the Fatal Shooting
On the evening of January 7th, Espinal was sitting in his Honda Civic on West 135th Street near Broadway around 6 PM. Surveillance footage showed Holley circling the block in a pickup truck before double-parking behind the victim’s car.
“[The] perp approaches the passenger side of the car, opens the door, reaches in, there’s a struggle and gunfire,” recounted NYPD Chief of Detectives Joseph Kenny.
Holley allegedly shot Espinal twice in the chest during an apparent struggle inside the car. Espinal was rushed to Mount Sinai Morningside Hospital but could not be saved.
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The shooting occurred outside Pizza del Valle, where Espinal was known to frequently eat. An employee witnessed the attack, stating: “It was one guy. He came in with a gun and shot the person in the car twice.”
Motive Unclear, Suspect Faces Murder Charges
While the two men’s criminal histories raised initial speculation of a drug-related attack, police have disproved that theory but have not uncovered a motive. Holley was indicted on charges of 2nd-degree murder and criminal possession of a weapon. He is currently being held without bail.
Espinal lived in Washington Heights at the time of his death. All defendants are innocent until proven guilty in a court of law.
The deadly Harlem shooting came amidst heightened gang violence in New York City, including another fatal stabbing between rival Hispanic gangs last weekend in the Bronx. The epidemic of urban street violence continues to claim innocent lives.