A holiday season mission of mercy ended in mayhem Friday when a charity worker delivering food to the hungry was shot and wounded alongside a second man on the Upper West Side, police said.
Pedro Aguilar-Ponce, 41, was making deliveries for the West Side Campaign Against Hunger around 12:20 p.m. in the courtyard of the Amsterdam Houses near Lincoln Center when four men pulled up in a black Chrysler — with one opening fire, cops said.
Aguilar-Ponce was wounded in the back and taken to NewYork-Presbyteria Weill Cornell Medical Center, while the other victim, 33, went to Mount Sinai Morningside with a gunshot wound to the left arm.
The motive for the shooting and the intended target remained unclear. The suspects fled the scene, leaving rattled residents of the W. 64th St. neighborhood to bemoan rising local crime during the pandemic. No arrests have been made.
“It was four shots,” said Rose Lindenmayer, 63, a local resident for four decades. “I’m afraid to go out in my own neighborhood. I don’t go out at night. Strong-arm robberies happening right around the corner … It could have been a little kid (shot).”
Israel Valle, 60, a member of the building’s tenant association, helped reopen the food distribution operation shortly after the bullets flew nearby.
“It’s not all about these thugs going around killing people or shooting an innocent person delivering food,” said Valle. “That’s the sad part. We were all here when it happened. But the food — people rely on this. It’s the holidays.”
Gregory Silverman, executive director of West Side Campaign Against Hunger, identified Aguilar-Ponce as an employee dedicated to feeding New Yorkers in need.
“Pedro is on the front lines fighting hunger each and everyday,” said Silverman. “He was one of the people that wanted New Yorkers to have food and healthy food. We just hope he gets better, our thoughts are with him. He is the epitome of an essential front line worker in New York City.”