Detectives nab suspect in 2021 East Harlem murder of beloved grandfather – New York Daily News
The fiancée of a beloved Bronx grandfather who watched him die from a stray bullet to the face was surprised and pleased Wednesday by word of an arrest in the long-unsolved case.
“I’m happy that they got him,” the fiancée told the Daily News after cops busted suspect Tito Llanes in the fatal shooting. “I’m happy. I didn’t feel like there was going to be a breakthrough.”
Llanes, 27, of Brooklyn, was charged with murder, assault, criminal possession of a weapon and reckless endangerment in the Sept. 11, 2021, slaying of Sylvester “Big West” Topping on E. 115th St. near First Ave. in East Harlem, cops said.
His fiancée said they were attending a friend’s birthday party when a bullet came through a window and struck the victim, who was mortally wounded as she stood helplessly nearby. Topping was declared dead of the gunshot wound at Metropolitan Hospital after the 1:30 a.m. shooting.
“A lot of us who were there didn’t know what happened, didn’t know who was shooting, where the shooting was coming from,” the fiancée recalled. “Everybody was getting [up] to leave the party, and I don’t know if something was going on.”
The father of three, stepfather of two and grandfather of three was renowned in the Bronx for his love of cooking and big heart, according to an online obituary. He lived in the Morrisania neighborhood.
“If you know Big West, then you know that he was he was the community chef providing an array of foods such as turkey wings [and] steak and fish sandwiches, just to name a few of his specialties,” his family wrote at the time.
“If you enjoyed eating, Big West was your go-to person because the kitchen was his second home.”
Topping was shot during a “gang-related” dispute, police sources said, but offered no details on a motive. The victim was arrested for weapon possession in 2014, they added.
After an exhaustive investigation, cops tracked down and arrested Llanes for the killing.
Police sources said he was arrested at a Harlem NYCHA complex Tuesday and taken into custody without incident. The suspect had a prior rap sheet and an alleged gang affiliation, sources said as he awaited arraignment Wednesday in Manhattan Criminal Court.