Toddler Nikolette Rivera Was Shot And Killed In Philadelphia While In Her Mother’s Arms In Their Home
Philadelphia is mourning the loss of young Nikolette Rivera, 2, in the wake of her tragic death Sunday. At 3:30 p.m., the toddler was in her Puerto Rican mother’s arms in their Kensington home when an unidentified gunman with an AK-47 unleashed seven shots into the home. Nikolette was shot in the back of the head in her living room. She was pronounced dead at the scene. Her 24-year-old mother, still unidentified, was shot in the back and on the right side of her head. She’s currently hospitalized and in stable condition. A 33-year-old contractor hired to clean carpets took a bullet to his stomach. He remains in critical condition.
Ballistic evidence is pointing to a connection between the Rivera household shooting and another that occurred 8 minutes prior that has left an 11-month old baby a quadriplegic.
Nikolette was “la luz de la casa,” her recovering mother told Telemundo.
“I am devastated without my daughter, but I have two other children for whom I have to be strong. My Nikolette was a star, the daughter every mother wanted to have, was my doll. She was the light of the house, that of her father and brothers,” Nikolette’s mother told Telemundo. Family members remember Nikolette as a fashionista who aspired to be an actress. Her mother said that Nikolette always stole the spotlight wherever she went–she was that mesmerizing.
She already had her Halloween costume picked out, never to be worn.
Nikolette was going to be a baby yellow shark for Halloween. Instead, members of the community are saying she’ll be an angel instead.
Nikolette’s abuela and siblings survived the attack.
“They took my granddaugther,” Carmen Ortiz, Nikolette’s grandmother told Telemundo through tears. “Ella murió. Mi princesa, mi única princesa,” Ortiz cried over the death of her princess granddaughter. Carmen was inside the house along with Nikolette’s two siblings. They survived without any physical harm.
The community has rallied behind the Rivera family, bringing pink and white balloons to a vigil at Nikolette’s home.
Family and friends gathered at the house Nikolette lived and died in to release a hundred pink and white balloons in memory of “la luz de la casa.” Neighbors are calling for an end to the madness. Vecina Leslie Navarro tweeted that she was lost in the Kensington neighborhood at the time Nikolette was killed. “I saw this on the news I cried for her & her family & I pray for this city when you can’t even sit in your HOME with family & live in fear of a stray bullet!” she tweeted. “My deepest heartfelt condolences to her family! #stopthemadness #NikoletteRivera” Bill Kinkle tweeted “seeing all the pink and white balloons around the neighborhood broke my heart today. #notonemore #nikoletterivera”
Police Captain Jason Smith has verified that the family was targeted.
“We can say that that specific house was the target of the shooting,” Captain Jason Smith said. “The gunman used an assault rifle and detonated the weapon at the entrance door and the windows. We recovered seven bullet casings in front of the residence.”
Those bullet casings seem to match that of another shooting that occurred seven blocks and five minutes apart from the Rivera shooting. That shooting has left an 11-month-old baby in extremely critical condition. He was shot four times – in the head, chest, and pelvis – while in the backseat of the family car. If the baby survives, doctors expect him to have lost all use of his arms and legs.
Officials are calling on citizens to offer their help to identify the gunman with a $30,000 reward for information leading to arrests.
Philadelphia mayor Jim Kenny hosted a press conference after a weekend of gun violence directed at babies. “We had a horrible weekend with all this armed violence,” he said. “We need the help of the people because we cannot do this alone and the federal government to stop the flow of weapons in the city.” Acting Police Commissioner Christine Coulter added, that “this could not continue happening, the fact that children were impacted by armed violence in a car and in their own home, It breaks the sense of security and we can’t live like this. There has to be someone who saw who committed these acts and we need to stop them.”
Rest in Power, Princesa Nikolette.