Cause of death determined for rider killed in fight with trio on Bronx subway train

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Police now know what led to the death of a man who was killed during a fight with three people while riding the subway in the Bronx.

The 45-year-old victim, identified as 45-year-old William Alvarez of the Bronx, died as a result of a gunshot wound to the chest, according to the city’s medical examiner, which determined the manner of death to be a homicide.

But questions still remain regarding the shooting death aboard the D train just before 5 a.m. Friday, such as a motive or what sparked the fight. Police have arrested three people — 24-year-old Justin Herde, 38-year-old Betty Cotto and 42-year-old Alfredo Trinidad — in connection with Alvarez’s killing.

Charges against the three were not clear, nor was the relationship between them. It didn’t appear they had any prior connection to the victim. Attorney information for the trio was not immediately available.

A senior law enforcement official said Trinidad had a gun on him when was arrested Sunday night at an apartment on Villa Avenue with his girlfriend and her brother.

According to the NYPD, Alvarez was riding the southbound D train when the trio boarded at Fordham Road. One of them sat next to Alvarez. An argument ensued.

The disagreement soon turned physical, and the other two suspects joined in to make it a three-on-one fight, according to NYPD Transit Chief Michael Kemper. The train pulled into the next station, the 182nd-183rd streets stop, and the three suspects ran off.

The violence was the latest in a series of subway incidents. On Feb. 12, six people were shot on the platform at the Mt. Eden Avenue subway station in the Bronx as teenagers exchanged gunfire. A 35-year-old was killed in the shooting.

Recent NYPD data paints a concerning picture, with 2023 seeing the highest number of subway assaults since at least 1996. Over that year, there were 570 assaults, marking a slight increase from the previous year and averaging about 1.5 incidents daily.

But Kemper said there is “progress” being made. An infusion of 1,000 more officers into the subway system — which was done in a direct response to a January crime spike — has led to a 17% reduction in crime in February (though for the year, still up 13% compared to 2023). He went on to call the high-profile killings “isolated incidents” but didn’t share further details.

“We are looking forward to keeping this momentum moving forward,” he said. “Out cops are out there, they are visible and are under immense pressure. They do a very challenging job.”

Kemper and transit officials pinned the blame on the same thing for fueling the rise: recidivist criminals who are repeat offenders. MTA President Richard Davey said Monday there had been seven assaults against transit workers in 2024, for which four suspects have been arrested.

Among the suspects, they have a combined 50 prior arrests.

“My plea to the justice system: Make sure appropriate justice is delivered,” said Davey. “Fifty strikes seems like a lot of godd—ed strikes.”

MTA Chairman Janno Lieber said prosecutors have rarely used a new tool available for those who attack transit workers: Banning them from using mass transit in the city.

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