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Friends remember York City brothers who died after shooting, crash

SEAN PHILIP COTTER
YorkDispatch


The three young men stood gazing down Sunday evening at the spot near the intersection of Madison Avenue and Newberry Street where their friend had spent some of his last moments alive.

Nineteen-year-old Abdiel Vazquez-Soto — whom everyone, including the three standing in quiet contemplation, had known as Tito — and his brother Angel Berrios, 21, both of Roosevelt Avenue in York City, died after being the victims of gunshot wounds and a car crash Friday night, according to authorities.

The subdued trio of Malii Rivera, Jon Castro and Enrique Cruz pulled up next to the crash site about 6 p.m. Only exchanging a couple of words in muttered Spanish, they pulled out a couple of candles, wrote on them, lit them and placed them with the dozens of similar candles sitting on the ground next to the pole where the brothers' car crashed.

Rivera said he grew up with Vazquez-Soto in York City's west side; Cruz said he'd been thinking about his memories of playing football with Vazquez-Soto when they were younger. All three said their friend was a funny guy who was a familiar face to many.

"He was always that guy ... he was a fun guy," Rivera said. "That's why a lot of people gonna miss him."

The memorial site backed up Rivera's point. Candles had been placed in what appears to have started out as a heart shape on the sidewalk, but the shape was overwhelmed by sheer volume of candles. A few feet up, a piece of yellow posterboard attached to the pole barely retained any of its original color, it was so covered by short messages written by friends and loved ones.

The memorial setup was in part a remnant of a vigil held for the two young men the night before, but it also had been contributed to by people coming and going throughout the day, as evidenced by the still-burning candles.

What happened: Police say someone shot the brothers a few blocks away from where they crashed.

Shortly before 10:30 p.m. Friday, police were called to a single-vehicle crash on North Newberry Street at Madison Avenue, according to a York City Police news release. An SUV-style vehicle driven by Berrios had crashed head-on into a pole in front of the Graham Aquatic Center.

Berrios was pronounced dead on the scene at 10:25 p.m. Vasquez-Soto was taken to York Hospital, where he was eventually pronounced dead at 2:02 a.m., according to the news release. Police said each man had been shot in the torso "at least once."

A third passenger, 20-year-old Francisco Rivera, was taken to York Hospital with less serious injuries, according to the news release.

As police were being called to the crash, they "almost simultaneously" received a call for shots fired nearby.

Police said they found evidence of a shooting on Jefferson Street at Juniper Avenue — the two brothers suffered gunshot wounds there, and then Berrios drove his car west and north before crashing.

Autopsies have been scheduled for Monday at Allentown's Lehigh Valley Hospital and are expected to determine whether the men died of gunshot wounds or crash-related injuries, according to the coroner's office.

York City Police are asking anyone with information about to the crash or the shooting to call the department at 846-1234.

York City Police Chief Wes Kahley said via text on Saturday that the department was still in the early stages of the investigation and had no suspects yet. He couldn't be reached for comment on Sunday.

Malii Rivera doesn't have any idea why someone would shoot his friend.

"He never messed with anybody," he said. "I don't know what happened."

— Reach Sean Philip Cotter at scotter@yorkdispatch.com.