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  • The San Juan Daily Star

Man arrested in shooting of 19-year-old worker at East Harlem Burger King

Kristal Bayron-Nieves, a worker at a Burger King in East Harlem, was fatally shot as she struggled to find a key to open a cash register.

By Troy Closson

A man who police say fatally shot a 19-year-old worker at a Burger King in East Harlem during a botched robbery has been arrested and charged with murder, Mayor Eric Adams and other officials said at news conference Friday.

The man, Winston Glynn, entered the fast food restaurant on 116th Street shortly after midnight two Sundays ago and pulled out a gun, police officials said.

He demanded that an employee behind a register, Kristal Bayron-Nieves, turn over cash, officials said. But as she crouched behind a counter and struggled to find the key to open the machine, authorities said, Glynn, 30, shot her once. She was struck in the chest and died at a hospital.

Glynn was charged with several counts including first-degree murder, robbery and criminal use of a firearm, police said. A lawyer for Glynn could not immediately be reached Friday.

As he spoke alongside police officials at the department’s headquarters, Adams said the fatal shooting was an upsetting example of the gun violence that he made a central part of his campaign last year and has pledged to tackle in City Hall.

“I visited Kristal’s mother and just saw the pain on her face, and saw how much this incident just tore her apart,” Adams said. “I don’t come to press conferences of arrests. But this one was so personal.”

The killing of Bayron-Nieves was another painful loss in a neighborhood where gun violence has become more common.

Shootings across New York City reached historic lows in 2018 and 2019 but jumped significantly during the pandemic. Experts say the trends showed hopeful signs of improvement in the second half of last year.

But the pace of shootings remains higher than it was before the pandemic and is particularly high in some sections of the city, including East Harlem. A few blocks from the Burger King where Bayron-Nieves was killed, an off-duty police officer was injured on New Year’s Day when he was struck by a bullet while sleeping in his car outside a station house.

Police said Glynn had been identified on surveillance video bearing a pair of headphones similar to those he had with him during the shooting. He was arrested late Thursday at a home address in Brooklyn.

Glynn had worked at the same Burger King as the shooting victim between April and December 2020, police said, but officials had no indication that he and Bayron-Nieves knew each other. Officials said he had likely planned to rob a store he was familiar with.

Glynn, who wore a black ski mask, had taken $100 from another register before the shooting, police said.

He had four prior arrests, authorities said, including for criminal possession of a weapon in an incident during which he brandished a knife.

In the days after Bayron-Nieves was killed, residents of East Harlem held several vigils, placing pink and white balloons, bouquets of flowers and more than three dozen candles against the entrance to the Burger King.

At one of the memorials, a cousin of Bayron-Nieves, Kiara Fuentes, described the consequences of an incident that she said was “hurting our family so much.”

“My Kristal didn’t deserve this. She did not wake up thinking she wasn’t going to make it back home,” Fuentes said. “It’s heartbreaking. This shouldn’t be happening to anyone, especially teenagers.”

The family of the teenager had moved to New York from Puerto Rico a few years ago “in search of a better future,” Diana Ayala, a City Council member whose nephew is a cousin of Bayron-Nieves, wrote on social media after the shooting.

Bayron-Nieves had recently received her GED and was working at Burger King to save money as she planned her future, Nathalie Pagan, a family friend, told the New York Daily News this week.

NYPD Chief of Department Kenneth Corey said Friday that officials were trying to determine whether Glynn has a mental illness.

“That could be an issue here,” Corey said. “Maybe he’s a person who, had he gotten services earlier on, we could have saved this woman’s life.”

At a memorial event this week, Ayala, who represents parts of East Harlem and the South Bronx, said she worried about ripples of trauma that could persist after the shooting.

The teenager’s 14-year-old brother had been the one to receive the call that she had died in the hospital, she said.

“That’s trauma that stays with us for years. Many of us grew up in the same conditions,” Ayala said. “It is inhumane and cruel to continue to allow communities of color to live under these circumstances.”

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