NEW YORK (WCBS) - Bertha Arriaga was described by her brother in law, Javier Aguilar, as a selfless and generous soul, a loving wife and doting mother of 3 sons, age 14, 10 and 6.
“She was an excellent wife, but she was an amazing mother. She lives only for her three children, and her dream was to send the kids to school. So she worked really really hard for kids,” Aguilar said.
But just before 1 a.m. Wednesday, that dream was shattered.
Arriaga woke up to a commotion outside her third-floor apartment on 34th Avenue off 92nd Street in Jackson Heights, Queens.
Police say when she looked outside, she was shot in the neck by a single deadly bullet that pierced through her home’s window.
Her 14-year-old son rushed in from another room and found her.
Arriaga’s husband was also home and is devastated.
“He told me that Bertha was laying on the floor with a lot of blood on her mouth. He was in shock,” Aguilar said.
“This is wholly under investigation. I cannot say whether the shot was intended for this victim at this time,” New York Police Deputy Chief Julie Morill said.
Police released a surveillance video of two persons of interest, caught on camera trying to steal a bike outside Arriaga’s apartment building just minutes before she was shot.
Investigators don’t know if the individuals were responsible for the shooting or if they were the intended targets.
Neighbors and family are struggling to make sense of it all.
“It make you feel scared because I live here in the next building,” said Mauriceo Herrera, a neighbor.
“Inside the house is supposed to be secure. But now nothing is secure now,” said Carlos Enriquez, another neighbor.
“I don’t know who should we blame. This is a very safe neighborhood,” Aguilar said.
Police are offering a $10,000 reward for any information that leads to an arrest and conviction.