Bronx gang member Ruben (Chulo) Pizzaro appeared in U.S. Southern District Court in Manhattan on Wednesday, where he faced federal murder charges in the shooting death of a rival gang member in November.
NYPD officers and the FBI arrested Pizzaro on Tuesday in the Bronx after receiving a tip following extensive media coverage, police said.
Pizzaro’s court-appointed attorney Avi Moskowitz of Manhattan said Pizzaro was acquitted last year on gang-related robbery and drug charges. “To make this a federal case it has to be proven that he is a gang member,” Moskowitz said Wednesday of the current murder charges.
Robert Boyce, NYPD chief of detectives, described Pizzaro as “slippery” and vowed to put him behind bars. “He’s cold,” Boyce said after Pizzaro’s arrest on Tuesday.
On Nov. 24, Pizzaro, 23, shot rival gang member David Rivera, 24, in the torso, thigh, arm and groin after a morning argument on Crotona Avenue in the Bronx, according to the NYPD. Rivera was taken to a hospital, where he was pronounced dead, police said.
On New Year’s Eve, Pizzaro carjacked a man in Inwood and told him to take him to Elwood Street, where he shot a man in the shoulder and took his backpack containing a PlayStation 4, police said.
This is the second time Pizzaro has faced federal allegations that he belongs to a notorious drug gang in the Crotona Park section of the Bronx, Moskowitz said, adding that his client was acquitted of the earlier charges.
However the NYPD and the FBI say Crotona Park is a location where rival drug gang members are responsible for numerous shootouts and gun violence.
Pizzaro, who remains jailed, is charged with the use of a firearm in the commission of a murder. If convicted on federal murder charges he faces a life sentence.
According to the complaint, Pizzaro was caught on surveillance video shooting Rivera in broad daylight and then running away.
Pizzaro was involved in several gang-related shootings in October and November, according to the complaint. He awaits a grand jury indictment, which is expected to be completed within the next two weeks, his lawyer said.