Jahmel Sanders was busted in the Bronx around 1:30 p.m. for the brutal double homicide last May 16 during a night of wild and deadly violence between two Lower East Side gangs, according to NYPD sources. A long-sought suspect was arrested Tuesday in the gruesome murders of Lower East Side nail salon owner Nikki Huang and her friend — 10 months after their charred corpses were discovered inside a burned-out car, authorities said.
A second suspect remains on the loose in the slayings of Huang, 23, and her friend Jesse Parrilla, 22, whose bodies were found inside the car dumped near the Pelham Split Rock Golf Course in the same borough where Sanders was finally nabbed. “I thought it would be happy news, but it doesn’t bring my daughter back,” Amy Chan, the mother of Nikki, told the Daily News. “I am happy that we’re getting somewhere.”
Jahmel Sanders killed Saloon Owner Nikki Huang
The killings ended eight hours of warfare waged by a pair of rival neighborhood gangs, with three people slain and another three wounded by the time the violence came to a halt with the final killings.
Sanders was nabbed at a Bronx homeless shelter and taken into custody Tuesday at the 45th Precinct stationhouse in the Bronx on a laundry list of charges including murder, manslaughter, robbery, grand larceny, kidnapping, arson, criminal use of a firearm and criminal possession of a weapon.
He wore a black hoodie and smirked silently as he was walked out of the building by detectives. Sanders’ arraignment was pending Tuesday evening. Both Huang and Parilla were shot in the head during the lethal spree sparked by a purse snatching on the Lower East Side, where Huang was targeted and robbed. The killers torched the vehicle with their bodies inside before fleeing.
Authorities previously identified the second suspect wanted in the killing as Steven Santiago, 34, who remains on the run. Police believed Parrilla, a talented basketball player, was in the wrong place at the wrong time and was killed only because of his friendship with Huang.
“I’m grateful,” his mother Michelle Morales told The News. “It’s been a long 10 months. My family has been grieving, the pain has been unbearable. My son was a good citizen. He didn’t deserve what happened to him. He had nothing but a pure heart.”
The double homicide came after a series of violent incidents sparked by the theft of Huang’s pricey Luis Vuitton bag on a neighborhood street. Authorities said she reached out to friends in a local gang known as “Up the Hill,” with its members targeting the alleged thieves from the rival “Down the Hill” gang.
One man was shot to death in retaliation, while a second target and an innocent bystander were shot an hour later. “Down the Hill” members then kidnapped Parrilla and Huang, with the gang-bangers forcing them to lure a gang rival from his home in Ridgewood, Queens, hours later. The target survived a bullet to the face, officials said.
Two hours later, the bodies of the two kidnapped victims were found inside the abandoned vehicle. According to police sources, the first victim Brandon Atkinson was targeted to avenge the purse snatch — but he had nothing to do with the hold-up. The shooting quickly amped up the violence, since his brother was a highly-esteemed member of the “Down the Hill” contingent.
Last August, U.S. Marshals arrested Zymir Humphrey in Martinsburg, W. Va., on charges of murder and weapons possession for the killing of Atkinson in the first violent act to follow the robbery.
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