Police: Separate shootings of Nikolette Rivera, Yazeem Jenkins may be linked to 1 man

Kristen Johanson
October 25, 2019 - 1:32 pm
From left: Freddie Perez, Francisco Ortiz, Trayvon Thomas

Philadelphia Police Department

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UPDATED: 3:18 p.m.

PHILADELPHIA (KYW Newsradio) — Authorities say they’ve connected the killing of a 2-year-old with the shooting of an 11-month-old last weekend, even though the two tragedies happened in different neighborhoods at different times. 

Police believe the separate shootings may be tied to one man: Francisco Ortiz.

Two men are charged in the shooting that killed 2-year-old Nikolette Rivera on Oct. 20: Freddie Perez and Tayvon Thomas. Perez has 17 prior arrests and convictions, and Thomas has nine priors, including robbery and assault charges. The pair are accused of gunning down the house where Nikolette and her mother were, killing the little girl and wounding her mother. They are both charged with murder and attempted murder.

But the men say the person who gave them the weapons they used in that shooting is Ortiz — who is accused of shooting 11-month-old Yazeem Jenkins just the day before.

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"We believe that Fransisco Ortiz supplied the AK-47 that was used to commit the homicide on Water Street" — the one that left Nikolette dead, according to Homicide Capt. Jason Smith.

On Oct. 19, officials say Ortiz shot and critically injured Yazeem, who was riding in a car with his father and three others. Police say the intended target was someone inside that car.

Ortiz is charged with attempted murder and aggravated assault, among other offenses, for the shooting of the baby. He has not been charged with anything connected to the shooting that killed Nikolette, but police are continuing to investigate both shootings.

Additionally, Smith said Ortiz is also wanted for another murder that occurred on Sept. 18 within the 2nd Police District.

Ortiz has a lengthy criminal record, including a prior gun conviction, which landed him in jail for several years. He was arrested for carrying an illegal gun in January, but he got out on bail.

Anthony Voci, chief of homicide for the District Attorney's Office, said some family members of both children are to blame, because the two shootings were directly related to an illegal drug trade.

"They engaged in narcotics behavior, narcotics transactions, narcotics operations," he said. "They put their children in harm's way."

He cautioned the community, saying that anyone thinking about getting involved in this drug trade should really think twice, because they're putting their own family in harm's way.

Yazeem is still in critical condition. He was shot four times while in the back seat of his stepmother's car, around 8 p.m. on Oct. 19, on the 4000 block of North Seventh Street. He was hit in the back of the head, in the chest, and twice in the backside. 

Police say their investigations continue.

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Stay with KYW Newsradio for more on this developing story.