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Syracuse police arrest suspects for 11-year-old Brexi’s murder

Onondaga County District Attorney William Fitzpatrick speaks to media inside the Syracuse Public Safety Building.
Ashley Kang
Onondaga County District Attorney William Fitzpatrick speaks to media inside the Syracuse Public Safety Building, Jan. 26, 2023.

The Syracuse police chief announced the arrest of two suspects and their knowledge of a third in the killing of 11-year-old Brexialee Torres-Ortiz, who died in the crossfire of a drive-by shooting in Syracuse’s south side earlier this month.

With Torres-Ortiz’s parents standing nearby, Syracuse Police Chief Joe Cecile on Thursday announced 18-year-old Ra’sean Patterson and 20-year-old Dahviere Griswold are in custody on second-degree murder charges. Cecile said officers reviewed hundreds of hours of camera footage near the shooting to identify the stolen vehicle that led them to the suspects.

“This was by no means a simple investigation, but it was certainly an aggressive one. There was camera work, neighborhood and citywide canvassing, countless citizen interviews, scenes processed, evidence, analyzed search warrants signed and executed,” Cecile said at the news briefing.

Patterson and Griswold are also charged with second-degree criminal possession of a weapon, and second-degree attempted murder related to the wounding of a 19-year-old who was believed to be the target of the drive-by shooting.

Cecile said the two suspects cooperated at the time of the arrest.

“It was very peaceful. They came right in,” he said.

Police have also identified a 16-year-old as a third alleged accomplice, who is not yet in custody.

Torres-Ortiz, remembered as a supportive friend, classroom leader and honors student, was killed near the 400 block of Oakwood Avenue by STEAM at Dr. King Elementary School while walking home from the store. She ran to get milk.

Cecile, Syracuse Mayor Ben Walsh and Onondaga County District Attorney William Fitzpatrick shared news of the arrests with Torres-Oritz’s parents on Wednesday.

Fitzpatrick said he plans to work with the family to ensure the young girl, and the tragic circumstances of her death, will be remembered.

“You are not going to forget Brexi’s name. This community is not going to forget her name. I'm going to talk to Brexi's mom and dad about how we're going to effectuate that,” Fitzpatrick said Thursday.

He said he does not want her memory to fade, and referred to another young Syracuse victim of gun violence, 20-month-old Rashaad Walker Jr., who was killed in a 2010 shooting that was targeting the toddler’s father.

“Twenty years from now you're gonna know Brexi’s name—I'm tired of letting it happen. I said to you 10 years ago with little Rashaad Walker, 20-month-old sitting in his car seat. I said we're never going to forget that kid's name. Nobody knows his name today,” Fitzpatrick said.

Calling hours for Torres-Ortiz are set for Thursday from 3 to 6 p.m. at Tucker Missionary Baptist Church at 515 Oakwood Ave. The funeral will be held at 11 a.m. Friday at the church.

Tarryn Mento is an award-winning digital, audio and video journalist with experience reporting from Arizona, Southern California, Guatemala and the Dominican Republic. Tarryn produces in-depth and investigative content for WAER while overseeing the station's student reporter experience. She is also an adjunct professor at Syracuse University.
John Smith has been waking up WAER listeners for a long time as our Local Co-Host of Morning Edition with timely news and information, working alongside student Sportscasters from the Newhouse School.