NEW YORK — For Angel Rojas, the daily bus ride through the streets of Brooklyn provided a respite from a hardscrabble existence juggling two low-paying jobs.
“It was his time to relax,” his wife’s cousin, Josie Guerrero, said Saturday. “His time to take the load off. He usually listened to music or talked on the phone. It was a few minutes of calmness.”
That peace was shattered Thursday evening as Rojas shuttled between jobs, hoping to make a quick stop at home to see his wife and two children.
A young man boarded the bus, police said. In the rear, a 14-year-old boy police described as a member of a street gang called the Stack Money Goons allegedly spotted a member of a rival gang and pulled out a .357-caliber revolver.
Shots were fired, the bullets missing the intended target, police said.
Rojas, 39, was hit in the head.
“Pretty big gun for a pretty small man,” Police Commissioner William Bratton said of the suspected gunman.
On Friday, Kathon Anderson was charged with second-degree murder and criminal possession of a weapon, according to the Brooklyn district attorney’s office. He is to be tried as an adult.
“Just as everyone in New York probably feels terrible about it, we feel terrible about it too,” Anderson’s lawyer, Frederic Pratt, told reporters, according to CNN affiliate WCBS. “I’m just going to ask everyone not to rush to judgment.”
Anderson allegedly belonged to Stack Money Goons and targeted a rival from another group known as TWAN Family, police said.
“The stupidity of those gangs that basically, over nothing, are trying to kill each other and, unfortunately, in the process, kill innocents as they did with this hard working young man trying to raise his family,” Bratton said. “A life needlessly lost, taken by a 14-year-old who felt it necessary to carry a gun on a city bus and shoot it.”
On Saturday, Rojas’ wife was raising money for a wake and to fly her husband’s body home to his native Dominican Republic.
“He was the sole provider,” Guerrero said. “She never thought she would have to bury her husband and raise the children alone.”
The couple has two children: a 12-year-old son, Saury, and 8-year-old daughter, April.
“Why he did that to my dad?” Saury asked, according to WCBS.
Guerrero said, “He was just sitting on a bus. He had nothing to do with this.”
Angel Rojas and his wife came to New York from the Dominican Republic about five years ago, Guerrero said. She held occasional part-time jobs; he stocked shelves at two Brooklyn bodegas.
“He was a hard worker and a family man devoted to giving his family a better life,” Guerrero said. “He was the funniest man you would ever meet. Everyone loved him. His laughter and his presence stayed with you.”