Acting Police Commissioner Thomas Krumpter said Monday that detectives are investigating whether the killer of a 12-year-old Hempstead girl shot in the head in her living room had targeted someone inside the home. Krumpter also confirmed investigators are looking at whether the gunfire was the result of warring street gangs.
"There are a number of sets from the Crips and a number of sets from the Bloods and we're looking at that -- along with all the other possible motives as the underlining reason for this horrific tragedy," Krumpter said.
A bullet fired from outside the house pierced a window and struck Dejah Joyner in the head as she ate dinner inside her Dartmouth Street home Friday. She was pronounced dead Saturday night at Winthrop-University Hospital in Mineola. Krumpter said investigators have not yet ruled out the possibility that someone who lives in Dejah's home was targeted.
"At this point in time . . . We're exploring all possible motives," he said.
A source with knowledge of the investigation said Monday that "you just don't go shooting up a house without knowing who you're targeting."
Previously, another source told Newsday the area around the house where Dejah was shot has been the site of suspected drug dealing and related violence. One of the home's occupants may have been targeted in the past as part of gang-related violence, the source said.
Asked about that Monday, Krumpter said: "We're looking at all crime in the area to see if there's any nexus or any link."
Detectives from the department's Electronics Squad are "scrubbing the area" for video, said Krumpter, who declined to say whether they had found any video useful to the investigation.
Krumpter said Dejah's "grief-stricken" parents have been interviewed by Homicide Squad detectives.
"Their little angel was taken away from them in a heinous, horrific act that only can be described as something committed by a coward," Krumpter said. "They've been providing all the information that we requested at this time. The mother and father have been interviewed by the homicide squad and we'll continue to be in touch with the family."
At the Alverta B. Gray Schultz Middle School Monday, where Dejah was a seventh-grader, a crisis team provided counseling services to grieving students.
Principal Noel Rios said about 50 students met with counselors and social workers and wrote letters, made collages in memory of Dejah, some saying, "We miss you. We love you."
"She was a happy-go-lucky young woman," said Rios, recalling Dejah's birthday earlier this month when she wore a tiara during the school day. "She was full of life."