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Conviction in B'klyn mom slay

Trudy Tomlinson Special to the AmNews | 4/25/2013, 11:34 a.m.

A reported gang member was convicted Tuesday for the shooting death of a Brooklyn mother of 12. Engaged in a gun battle on a Brownsville street, where he sprayed 13 bullets from a Brooklyn rooftop as school let out, Andrew Lopez, 20, was found guilty of killing Zurana Horton, 34, and wounding Unique Armstead, 32, and Cheanne McKnight, 11, in October 2011.

Two men are accused of killing Horton. Her last moments were caught on tape. Jurors were able to watch a surveillance video released last Thursday at the Brooklyn Supreme Court during the trial of the two men.

The video showed Horton shielding her daughter and other children from the gunfire. She is then seen sprawled out on the sidewalk beside a pool of blood.

Prosecutors say Andrew Lopez, now 20, who is an alleged 8 Block gang member, confessed to being the rooftop sniper. He said he was following the instructions of his older brother Jonathan Carrasquillo, 24, to fire shots at rival gang members from the Howard Projects.

Carrasquillo is also on trial for murder.

"We're certainly pleased with the fact that the investigation had identified Mr. Lopez and he's made statements and apparently made a full confession," said NYPD Commissioner Kelly after the arrest of Horton in 2011.

Cheanne McKnight, 11, was grazed on her cheek and 31-year-old Unique Armstead was shot in her left arm. In 2011, the three men were turned in by the community because residents said the perpetrators could not stay after what they did, said Andre Mitchell, head of Man Up Inc. and Ceasefire East New York. Mitchell said people in the neighborhood were tired of the incessant gunfire and bloodletting.

"When me and my son were on the floor, I noticed Mrs. Horton fall down," said Armstead in her testimony on Thursday. "I honestly thought she was shot in the head. There was blood."

Armstead also testified that she overheard a group of young men arguing on the street about a gun just before the shots were fired. Her testimony matched the prosecutors' claims, reports state.

She added that she felt uneasy, so she took her son into a nearby store. When the fight appeared to die down, she got back into the street with her son, and that's when a stray bullet hit her.

"I thought it was a brick, but it was a bullet," added Armstead. "I told my son, 'I think I'm shot.'"

The trial will resume on Monday with testimony from a man who told prosecutors that Lopez's brother has threatened him with death.

"The man is petrified," said Justice Vincent Del Guidice in a press report. "The man is an emotional wreck."

Denise Peace, Horton's mother, said she is now caring for five of her daughter's children. Their father is looking after the other seven.

Lopez faces up to 75 years to life in prison when he's sentenced May 7.