Third Generation Gangs Strategic Note No. 14: MS-13 Subway Shooting Kills 18th Street Rival
John P. Sullivan and Robert J. Bunker
A gang fight that started on board the New York City (NYC) Subway No. 7 train bound for Manhattan spilled out on to the station platform at 90 Street-Elmhurst Avenue Station on the IRT Flushing Line in Queens. The victim, 20-year-old Abel Mosso, was identified as a member of the 18th Street gang. His alleged killer is a member of the rival MS-13 gang. Both gangs are active in the neighborhoods surrounding the elevated subway station in the New York City borough of Queens. The City of New York Police Department (NYPD) and the Queens County District Attorney are investigating the murder.
115th Precinct crime prevention officers canvassing subway station
Source: NYPD, 115th PCT @NYPD115Pct; https://twitter.com/NYPD115Pct/status/1094021318004166656.
Key Information: Ashley Southall, “A Man Was Shot at a Queens Subway Station. He Died on the Platform.” New York Times, 3 February 2019, https://www.nytimes.com/2019/02/03/nyregion/shooting-queens-subway.html:
Six shots rang out during a fight on a Queens subway platform early Sunday afternoon, sending straphangers running for cover as a man lay dying and his attackers fled on foot, according to the police and cellphone video of the incident.
The victim was struck in the head and died at the 90th Street-Elmhurst Avenue station, where the altercation spilled out of a Manhattan-bound 7 train shortly before 12:45 p.m., the police said.
Key Information: Jonathan Sperling, “Shooting Leaves One Dead On No. 7 Train Platform.” Queens Daily Eagle, 4 February 2019, https://queenseagle.com/all/2019/2/4/shooting-leaves-one-dead-on-no-7-train-platform:
The shooting occurred just before 12:45 p.m., after a Manhattan-bound No. 7 train pulled into the 90th Street-Elmhurst Avenue subway station in Jackson Heights, according to the NYPD. Cellphone video shows three men grappling for a gun on the platform before one grabs a weapon and shoots the victim as he was lunging at the gunman. The victim’s body immediately went limp after the first shot…
Victim Abel Mosso, 20, a resident of 81-31 31st Avenue, was pronounced dead at the scene.
Police say they believe that the fight began on the train and spilled onto the platform. The NYPD announced they had arrested a “person of interest” in connection with the shooting. Several reports indicate that the suspect, whose name has not yet been released by the NYPD, is a “known member of MS-13.”
Brawl on 90th St.-Elmhusrt Ave. subway platform preceding shooting (3 Feb 2019-2:26 PM) Source: Social media image posted by @FirenzeMike; https://twitter.com/FirenzeMike/status/1092187615099604992.
Key Information: Peter C. Mastrosimone, “Subway platform shooting was gang-related, cops say.” Queens Chronicle, 4 February 2019, http://www.qchron.com/editions/queenswide/subway-platform-shooting-was-gang-related-cops-say/article_ac6c5b8e-28bc-11e9-b9fb-a396d0516321.html:
The man shot dead on the 7 train subway platform at 90 St-Elmhurst Ave in Jackson Heights on Sunday afternoon, in front of dozens of onlookers, was a member of the Latin American 18th Street gang, and his suspected killer is with MS-13, police announced Monday…
“He is a gang member. He is in our criminal group database as an MS-13 member. He has been arrested before in New York City, and in fact he has been part of a criminal group gang case before in New York City.”
Police later announced that the alleged shooter is Ramiro Gutierrez, 26. They did not say where he lives, and neither did the Queens District Attorney’s Office when it announced the charges against him. Those are second-degree murder, first-degree gang assault and second-degree criminal possession of a weapon.
According to police, an argument between the victim and two other men began on a Manhattan-bound train and spilled out onto the platform a little before 12:45 p.m.
Suspect Ramiro Gutierrez seen on video fleeing subway station
Source: NYPD, Deputy Commissioner, Public Information (DCPI).
Key Information: Rocco Parascandola and Graham Rayman, “MS-13 gang member in custody in deadly NYC subway shooting caught on video.” New York Daily News, 4 February 2019, https://www.nydailynews.com/new-york/nyc-crime/ny-metro-queens-suspect-detained-subway-platform-homicide-20190204-story.html:
A 26-year-old member of the notorious MS-13 gang suspected of shooting and killing a man on a Queens subway platform Sunday as horrified riders looked on is in police custody…
The gunman, identified by sources as Ramiro Gutierrez, 26, of Queens, is believed to have shot Abel Mosso, 20, a member of the rival 18th Street gang, on the crowded platform at 90th St. and Elmhurst Ave. in Jackson Heights around 12:45 p.m.…
“Literally, the whole dispute and the shooting incident was captured on video,” Chief of Detectives Dermot Shea said.
The gunman fired five more shots into Mosso’s face from close range. Mosso was hit in the head and died at the scene.
The suspect has 12 prior arrests. In December he was named in an indictment along with 12 other MS-13 members. Gutierrez was charged with conspiracy to commit a burglary and drug possession, and freed on $2,500 bail.
Key Information: Nicole Brown, “Men sought in fatal MS-13 shooting on Queens subway platform, NYPD says.” AM New York, 12 February 2019, https://www.amny.com/news/queens-subway-shooting-1.27227575:
Abel Mosso, a member of the 18th Street gang, was fatally shot in the head by an MS-13 member, identified as Ramiro Gutierrez, during a fight between several men on the southbound platform of the 7 train’s 90th Street-Elmhurst Avenue station on Sunday, Feb. 3, cops said.
Though Gutierrez was arrested and charged with murder, police were still looking for multiple men involved in the fight. They previously released images of two men wanted for questioning, and an image of a third man was released Monday night.
The fight on the platform was caught on video by another commuter. Mosso and Gutierrez are seen wrestling on the ground before Gutierrez stands up with a gun in his hand. He then fired at least three shots, striking Mosso in the head, police said.
Two unidentified persons of interest sought by NYPD for questioning
Source: NYPD, Deputy Commissioner, Public Information (DCPI).
Surveillance video of additional suspect sought by NYPD for participating in the gangs fight that led to a rival gangster’s death.
Source: NYPD, Deputy Commissioner, Public Information (DCPI).
Third Generation Gang Analysis
On the afternoon of Sunday, 3 February 2019, an altercation broke out on board a Manhattan bound IRT No. 7 train. The fight spilled out of the train onto the platform of the 90th Street-Elmhurst Avenue station, an elevated NYC subway station in Elmhurst Queens—a neighborhood near Jackson Heights, west of the Citi Field home of the NY Mets. After a brief fight on the platform, the victim was fatally shot in the head. According to a New York Times report: “three men can be seen wrestling on the ground. One man gets to his feet and points what appears to be a small revolver at Mr. Mosso. Six shots ring out, as bystanders scream and run for cover.” The victim, 20-year-old Abel Mosso who was shot multiple times in the face was identified as a member of the 18th Street gang. His alleged 26-year-old killer, Ramiro Guiterrez, is a known member of the rival gang MS-13. While one suspect is in custody, another remains at large; the NYPD is also seeking to identify additional persons of interest.
Both the MS-13 (Mara Salvatrucha) and 18th Street gangs originated in Los Angeles. “The rivalry between MS-13 and 18th Street goes back decades to their origins in Los Angeles. Both gangs later established criminal operations in Honduras, El Salvador and Guatemala, among other places. They view each other as mortal enemies,” according to the New York Times.  The MS-13 has established a presence in Metropolitan New York, especially the NYC borough of Queens and the suburban Long Island Nassau and Suffolk counties.
Both MS-13 and 18th Street are transnational, networked gangs, known as Maras. The MS-13 has evolved distinct local attributes to adapt to local conditions. In the New York metropolitan region:
MS-13 has been active in New York City and the surrounding region for over a decade, and remains a persistent threat despite several rounds of indictments by local and federal authorities. In December, five accused MS-13 members lured a 23-year-old man, Ian Cruz, to a bird sanctuary in Far Rockaway, Queens, where he was shot to death.
The 18th Street gang is a newer arrival to New York, but has begun to target its longtime rivals, the police said. In May, the Queens district attorney indicted seven men accused of being 18th Street members in the murder of an MS-13 rival.
In addition to 18th Street, MS-13 rivals in the NYC region include the Latin Kings.
This incident highlights the traditional rivalry between the two LA-born gangs and demonstrates that this rivalry and violent competition continues among their NYC affiliates. Gang graffiti related to both gangs has been reported in neighborhoods near the subway shooting incident. Such graffiti has been targeted by the local NYPD precincts (110th PCT and 115th PCT) in neighborhood graffiti removal project.
Mara graffiti (MS-13 & 18th Street in Queens)
Source: NYPD 115th PCT @NYPD115Pct; https://twitter.com/NYPD115Pct/status/109328050999464345 and https://twitter.com/NYPD115Pct/status/1091386753808781312.
While the subway was not targeted in this gang–related murder, subway crime has a high profile in NYC and other transit systems due to the heightened sense of vulnerability among transit riders and the propensity for residents to identify with the risk of victimization on public transit. This dynamic illustrates how gangs violence can influence and shape community perceptions of crime in general and gangs crime in particular.
Nicole Brown, “Men sought in fatal MS-13 shooting on Queens subway platform, NYPD says.” AM New York, 12 February 2019, https://www.amny.com/news/queens-subway-shooting-1.27227575.
Peter C. Mastrosimone, “Subway platform shooting was gang-related, cops say.” Queens Chronicle, 4 February 2019, http://www.qchron.com/editions/queenswide/subway-platform-shooting-was-gang-related-cops-say/article_ac6c5b8e-28bc-11e9-b9fb-a396d0516321.html.
Rocco Parascandola and Graham Rayman, “MS-13 gang member in custody in deadly NYC subway shooting caught on video.” New York Daily News, 4 February 2019, https://www.nydailynews.com/new-york/nyc-crime/ny-metro-queens-suspect-detained-subway-platform-homicide-20190204-story.html.
Ashley Southall, “A Man Was Shot at a Queens Subway Station. He Died on the Platform.” New York Times, 3 February 2019, https://www.nytimes.com/2019/02/03/nyregion/shooting-queens-subway.html.
Jonathan Sperling, “Shooting Leaves One Dead On No. 7 Train Platform.” Queens Daily Eagle, 4 February 2019, https://queenseagle.com/all/2019/2/4/shooting-leaves-one-dead-on-no-7-train-platform.
Ali Winston, “Queens Subway Shooting: MS-13 Member Is Arrested, Police Say.” New York Times, 4 February 2019, https://www.nytimes.com/2019/02/04/nyregion/subway-shooting-ms13-gang.html?module=inline.
 Ali Winston, “Queens Subway Shooting: MS-13 Member Is Arrested, Police Say.” New York Times, 4 February 2019, https://www.nytimes.com/2019/02/04/nyregion/subway-shooting-ms13-gang.html?module=inline.
 Nicole Brown, “Men sought in fatal MS-13 shooting on Queens subway platform, NYPD says.” AM New York, 12 February 2019, https://www.amny.com/news/queens-subway-shooting-1.27227575.
 See Note 1.
 Carlos García, “The Birth of the MS13 in New York.” InSight Crime, 9 March 2018, https://www.insightcrime.org/news/analysis/birth-ms13-new-york/.
 For a detailed exploration of MS-13 on Long Island, see Víctor Manuel Ramos, Sandra Peddie, and Nicole Fuller “Inside the menacing rise of MS-13 on LI.” Newsday, 11 October 2018, https://projects.newsday.com/long-island/ms13-long-island-gangs-suffolk/.
 See John P. Sullivan, “Transnational Gangs: The Impact of Third Generation Gangs in Central America.” Air & Space Power Journal (Spanish Edition), Second Trimester 2008, http://www.au.af.mil/au/afri/aspj/apjinternational/apj-s/2008/2tri08/sullivaneng.htm
 For a detailed assessment of MS-13 organizational variation and capacity to adapt to local conditions, see Robert J. Bunker and John P. Sullivan, “Third Generation Gangs Strategic Note No. 13: Mara Salvatrucha (MS-13) Command and Control (C2) Geographic Variations.” Small Wars Journal, 29 January 2019, https://smallwarsjournal.com/jrnl/art/third-generation-gangs-strategic-note-no-13-mara-salvatrucha-ms-13-command-and-control-c2.
 See Note 1.
 “12 MS-13 goons indicted in Queens.” Queens Chronicle, 20 December 2018, http://www.qchron.com/editions/queenswide/ms--goons-indicted-in-queens/article_2a2a5397-24d6-5859-bec7-f3cc4c0909b1.html.
 Anthony M. DeStefano, “Growing 18th Street, MS-13 rivalry underscored by recent indictments, NYPD says.” AM New York, 1 May 2018, https://www.amny.com/news/ms-13-18th-street-gang-violence-1.18351816.
 Maya Kaufman, “MS-13 Graffiti Plagues Jackson Heights, Elmhurst After Shooting.” Patch (Jackson Heights-Elmhurst), 12 February 2019, https://patch.com/new-york/jackson-heights-elmhurst/ms-13-graffiti-plagues-jackson-heights-elmhurst-after-shooting.
Robert J. Bunker and John P. Sullivan, “Third Generation Gangs Strategic Note No. 13: Mara Salvatrucha (MS-13) Command and Control (C2) Geographic Variations.” Small Wars Journal, 29 January 2019.
Robert J. Bunker and John P. Sullivan, “Mara Salvatrucha (MS-13) Law Enforcement Primer.” National Academy Associate (Quantico, FBI National Academy Associates), March/April 2018.
Robert J. Bunker and John P. Sullivan, Studies in Gangs and Cartels. London: Routledge, 2013.