Man is arrested for triple shooting near Columbia University last week
NEW YORK — Detectives on Saturday arrested a 30-year-old man suspected of fatally shooting three men as all four were sitting in a BMW parked across the street from a Columbia University building this month.
The police said the man, Robert Nunez, was arrested early in the morning in the basement of a Bronx building.
Detectives recovered the gun used in the killings, and a shirt found near the site of the shooting had DNA tying Nunez to the crime, the police said.
He was charged Saturday evening with one count of first-degree murder, three counts of second-degree murder and criminal possession of a loaded firearm, the police said.
“Detectives assigned to this case did a masterful job,” Police Commissioner Raymond W. Kelly said in a statement. “Relentlessly working it to apprehend a suspect who initially appeared so calm, collected and out of reach.”
On Saturday, a relative of one of the men who was killed said the magnitude of his loss kept him from taking much comfort from the news of the arrest.
“There’s nothing that could satisfy me,” said Luis Suazo, whose brother, Heriberto Suazo, 26, was found dead in the front passenger seat of the car. “They took my brother away.”
The other victims were Luis Catalan, 25, and Amaury Rodriguez, 30.
Coming during a time of historically low murder rates, the triple homicide elicited some memories in the area of a violent era, when the flourishing crack trade brought a feeling of menace to many streets.
Adding to the shock was that the killings took place in a placid pocket of the neighborhood sometimes called Seminary Row, near the Manhattan School of Music and Riverside Church, as well as Knox Hall, which houses Columbia’s Middle Eastern, South Asian and African studies programs.
Investigators said they believed that the four men had been sitting in a dark gray 2009 BMW 750LI with tinted windows in the early evening of June 7, when one of the men in the back seat shot the others.
All three victims had criminal records, the police said, and detectives suspected that the killings involved a dispute over drugs.
Nobody in the neighborhood reported hearing gunshots, but around 6:30 p.m., a passer-by saw two of the men, wearing white T-shirts soaked with blood, sprawled in the front seats. Detectives found the inside of the car splattered with blood.
A camera recorded images of the man suspected of being the gunman, wearing gray pants and carrying a bag as he left the site. As he walked away, he put on a white T-shirt, the police said, and threw the shirt he had been wearing into a trash can.
Aaron Edwards and Daniel Krieger contributed reporting.