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story.lead_photo.caption Police in Little Rock investigate a homicide on Wednesday morning. - Photo by Clara Turnage

A New York City man died and two people were injured in a shooting early Wednesday in central Little Rock, a police spokesman said.

Two 911 calls led police to the 2400 block of South Cross Street, where officers found three people with gunshot wounds, police spokesman officer Eric Barnes said. One 911 caller reported hearing gunfire. A second caller told dispatchers that the second caller's brother had been shot.

At the scene, officers found a white Chevrolet SUV with three New York City residents inside, according to a police report. Barnes said officers attempted to stabilize Jose Castro, 32, but the man died at the scene. The vehicle had crashed into several trash cans and brush at the side of the street, where it came to a stop.

The two other gunshot victims, 29-year-old Randy Canela and 30-year-old Arnaldo Marengo, were taken to a hospital for treatment of injuries that were not considered life-threatening, according to the report. The two men told police that someone shot Marengo first, then turned the weapon on them before driving away.

Barnes said the gunman left in a two-door, dark-blue Chevrolet Camaro. The gunman was described in the police report as wearing red shoes and a camouflage jacket with patches and a Chicago Bulls logo on it.

The white SUV is registered to an Enterprise Rent-A-Car location in Tulsa, according to the police report.

The preliminary report said the gunfire is not believed to be a drive-by shooting, an attempted carjacking or related to gang activity.

Officers taped off nearly a block Wednesday morning around the wrecked SUV and set up black screens around Castro's body, which lay in front of the open driver's-side door. Officers searched along the street with flashlights between several abandoned and dilapidated homes on South Cross Street.

About 3 a.m., investigators began knocking on doors and asking if neighbors had heard the shooting.

At 3:30 a.m., Castro's body still lay in the street as crime scene investigators documented evidence near the vehicle. The Pulaski County coroner's office later transported Castro's body to the state Crime Laboratory, Barnes said.

Laura Stone, who lives on a neighboring street, said she heard at least three shots after her dogs woke her up early Wednesday morning. She waited inside her home until she saw the blue lights of police cars before going back to bed, she said.

Stone said she's lived in the neighborhood for eight years, and although it has some crime from time to time, she loves that area.

"It's the kind of place where one of the neighbors will call you when the tornado sirens go off to ask if you're safe," she said.

When one of Stone's dogs escaped from her backyard, she said her Cross Street neighbors rallied to help her find the Corgi.

"It's got problems, but every neighborhood does," she said. "We check in with each other."

Another neighbor, who declined to give her name, said that while the area is usually safe, crime has increased in the past few months.

"Our block has always been fine," the woman said. "It feels like it's just getting worse and worse."

The first homicide of 2019 -- where two men were shot and killed near West Roosevelt Road and Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Drive -- happened just three blocks from Wednesday's shooting.

According to the Little Rock Police Department's records, there were no violent or property crimes reported in 2017 and 2018 in the two blocks surrounding where Castro died.

An aggravated assault, a robbery and a theft of a motor vehicle have been reported in the same area so far this year.

Castro's death is the year's 14th homicide in Little Rock. There were 15 homicides in Little Rock by April 17 in 2018.

Metro on 04/18/2019

Print Headline: Gunfire shatters Little Rock quiet morning; New York City man killed

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