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NYPD: 12-Year-Old Boy Intended Target Of Upper West Side Barbershop Shooting

NEW YORK (CBSNewYork) -- The search continued Wednesday for a suspect who police said targeted a 12-year-old boy in a shooting outside a barbershop in Morningside Heights.

The suspect made no attempt to hide his face when he walked up to the barbershop on Columbus Avenue near 105th Street in broad daylight at 2:15 p.m. Tuesday. The man was seen lingering by the open door, as sources said he asked about one of the children inside.

The man then pulled out a gun, shot once, twice, and ran away, police said.

On Wednesday, the shop owner recounted the swift moments in Spanish.

"The person that was shooting was shooting at a young fellow sitting in one of her seats," owner Rubia Ariste said in Spanish through an interpreter.

Ariste said the boy has been getting his hair cut at her barbershop almost his entire life, and was waiting his turn in a seat by the door when two bullets flew past his face, CBS2's Ali Bauman reported.

The gunman barely missed striking the boy, according to Ariste. She showed Bauman where the child was sitting, and bullet holes that had been left in the cushions just past.

"He was scared, but he wasn't hit," Ariste said.

The child's friend tried chasing the gunman, while others watched more timidly from the shop door. But it was too late – the suspect got away.

On Wednesday, many in the neighborhood were wondering what's become of their block.

"I'm just really surprised," a woman who lives next door told WCBS 880's Marla Diamond. "It's really alarming."

"Twelve-year-old kids supposed to be in the house, in school doing something else," said neighbor Ed Smith. "I've never seen or heard anything like that, someone trying to shoot a 12-year-old kid. That's shocking."

"Who would shoot at a 12-year-old kid?" said Kirsten Kent of the Upper West Side. "I don't know, yeah it's really sad."

Sources said once police arrived, they found the child hiding in the bathroom at the back of the barbershop and he told them he did not recognize the man who opened fire.

Sources said the child lives in the nearby Frederick Douglass Houses, which may have been the shooter's reason for going after him. The large public housing development is strongly divided by opposing gangs, and the shooter asked where the boy lived when he approached the shop.
"They should put more squad cars even if they put a light or something here so kids can feel safe to walk down the block by themselves," said Shaquitta Edwards of the Upper West Side.

Police describe the suspect as a black male, 5'9" tall who was seen wearing a black shirt and blue shorts.

Anyone with information is asked to call the NYPD's Crime Stoppers Hotline at 1-800-577-TIPS (8477) or for Spanish, 1-888-57-PISTA (74782), visit or text tips to 274637 (CRIMES) then enter TIP577.

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