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15-year-old Venezuelan migrant charged with attempted murder of NYPD officers, Brazilian tourist in Times Square

The Thursday shooting was just the latest incident of Times Square incidents. Two weeks earlier on Jan. 27, another group of migrants got into a melee on West 42nd Street and injured two NYPD officers.

NYPD Wanter Poster offering reward for Jesus Alejandro Rivas Figueroa
NYPD Wanted Poster offering reward for Jesus Alejandro Rivas Figueroa | Shutterstock

February 12, 2024 8:14am

Updated: February 12, 2024 8:14am

A 15-year-old Venezuelan migrant was arraigned Saturday on attempted murder charges for his alleged role in a Thursday night Times Square shooting.

Jesus Alejandro Rivas Figueroa was charged as an adult with two counts of attempted murder and assault, and  a criminal weapons charge after reportedly shooting a Brazilian tourist and firing shots at NYPD officers who tried to subdue him during a shoplifting incident gone awry.

Police said the shoplifting incident took a turn when the juvenile was confronted by a keen female security guard. The teen began firing, and a 37-year-old Brazilian female tourist was shot in the leg as NYPD officers dodged bullets.

The tourist sustained non-life-threatening injuries, and was transported to a nearby Manhattan hospital, but left the following day on Friday, police said.

Shortly after firing shots in Times Square, the young Venezuelan migrant fled to a nearby subway station and eluded police for about 24 hours, Manhattan prosecutors said during his arraignment.

“He then returned to his home, and he and his mother immediately began to flee,” an assistant district attorney told a duty judge on Saturday. “They packed up all their belongings and by 6 a.m. the next morning had vacated their home and fled out of the city.”

The two were caught less than 24 hours later at a house in Yonkers, “where he was hiding behind a wardrobe in a further attempt to evade police,” prosecutors asserted.

Police scoured the city searching for the young man after posting a wanted poster for him with security footage, offering a $13,500 reward “for information regarding [the] attempted murder of a NYC police officer.”

Video released on social media depicted the 15-year old crying after police handcuffed him and hauled him away, and prosecutors said the teenager admitted he was involved in the Feb. 8 incident.

According to intelligence collected by NYPD officials, Rivas Figueroa came to New York City from Venezuela several months ago.

He was reportedly staying at a migrant shelter in the Manhattan borough, one of tens of thousands of others who relocated to New York from the South American region after crossing the southwest border.

Rivas Figueroa, a second 15-year-old and a 16-year-old were trying to shoplift from a JD Sports store on Broadway near West 42nd Street at about 7 p.m. when many shows open curtain in the theater district, police said.

The Thursday Times Square shooting was just the latest of other violent incidents in the world famous Manhattan based entertainment district. Two weeks earlier on Jan. 27, another group of migrants got into a melee on West 42nd Street and injured two NYPD officers.

A total of seven people were arrested and charged, but were subsequently released after the Manhattan District Attorney’s Office did not request bail, a move that caused outrage against the chief prosecutor, Alvin L. Bragg.

That criticism may have played into Manhattan prosecutors allocution, asking the judge this time to step the Defendant Rivas Figueroaback to jail without bail.  

Prosecutors argued that “he has significant ties out of the United States” and has only been here “for a short time.” 

The recent rise of violent crime in Times Square comes amid recent reports that law enforcement officials are probing the rise of the Tren de Aragua Venezuelan gang in Miami, Florida, and Chicago.

Tren de Aragua is the largest criminal gang in Venezuela, boasting a membership of 2,700 with its home state in Aragua with soldiers located in Carabobo, Sucre, Bolivar, Miranda, and Trujillo.

Law enforcement agencies throughout the country have reported that the gang is now starting to surface in major U.S. metropolitan cities such as Dallas, Miami and Chicago.

The recent string of Times Square shootings comes just four months after a retired Miami police officer was lured into a South Florida hotel room and killed by Tren de Aragua gang members in a Doral parking lot.

The Chicago Police Department has also issued warnings to its officers in interdepartmental memos that the Tren de Aragua had embedded its members in the midwestern city.

The gang’s rising presence in the United States comes amid a major bi-continental expansion throughout South and North America, targeting countries such as Bolivia, Brazil, Chile, Costa Rica, Ecuador, Panama, and Peru.

The gang’s members have been known for drug-trafficking, human smuggling and trafficking, racketeering, bribery, and kidnappings for ransom.

There is no evidence to suggest Rivas Figueroa, who is also from Venezuela, has any ties to the transnational criminal gang. Police have not revealed what information they have, if any, as to how the 15-year-old acquired the firearm involved in the shooting incident, which law enforcement officials described as a “very large handgun.”

The young Venezuelan was arrested in Yonkers, and is currently being probed as a possible suspect in a second shooting in Times Square that occurred last month as well as a Bronx armed robbery.

In September 2022, ADN America reported that former ex-Venezuelan military officers warned the U.S. that the Maduro regime was emptying prisons and orchestrating the deployment of gang forces to the U.S. to wreak havoc and disrupt law and order.

One DHS intelligence report received by the Border Patrol purportedly instructs agents “to be on the lookout for inmates,” including some convicted of murder, rape and extortion that appear to have been purposely freed by Venezuelan socialist leader Nicolás Maduro.

Executive Editor

Gelet Martínez Fragela

Gelet Martínez Fragela is the founder and editor-in-chief of ADN America. She is a Cuban journalist, television producer, and political refugee who also founded ADN Cuba.