A mother of two was shot dead through her Bronx apartment door peephole by someone who may have been targeting her son, who is currently trial for murder.
Wendy Martinez, 45, looked through the peephole of her Concourse Village apartment when the doorbell rang and was blasted in the face about 9:40 p.m. on Saturday, police said.
She died at the scene. Police led a sobbing young man from the Grand Concourse building near E. 156th St. moments after the shooting.
Sources say the gunman was actually after Martinez’s son, Brian Solano, for allegedly killing the brother of a high-ranking Trinitarios gang member four years earlier. But Martinez got caught in the crossfire.
“Everyone knew that retribution was coming for what he was accused of,” one police source said. “It was just a matter of time, but no one thought that the mom would get hit.”
Solano, 25, was busted in December 2014 after cops said he fired a pistol into the lobby of an apartment building on Macombs Road near W. Mount Eden Ave., where multiple people were standing, and killed 21-year-old Willie Lora.
After three years on Rikers Island awaiting trial and a brief stint in an upstate prison, Solano was released without bail last October after a controversial private investigator came up with new evidence that witnesses had allegedly been coerced by investigators to say Solano was the shooter.
That private eye, Manuel Gomez, was certain that the gunman who killed Martinez was targeting Solano, because the family had been receiving death threats for years.
“She’s an innocent person. She has nothing to do with anything. It is clearly a target towards the son,” Gomez said outside the family’s home on Sunday.
Gomez criticized authorities for not taking the threats seriously.
“This could have been avoided,” he said. “This family had asked for help. And they told the courts they received death threats and it was never put on the record.”
Martinez worked at Lincoln Hospital as a clerk and had a 15-year-old son in ninth grade at KIPP Academy, neighbors said.
“She was a very hardworking lady. She would do anything for her kids,” said Maris Valdez, a coworker who has known Martinez over 20 years. “She loved her kids.”
Her younger son was “a straight-A student. He’s a class-A athlete. He’s literally the epitome of what every young boy should be,” Gomez said.
Solano, meanwhile, was running around with the Netas gang — a Puerto Rican street gang that often clashed with the Trinitarios — at the time of Lora’s murder, police sources said.
Four days after the Dec. 8, 2014, shooting, Solano was busted for mugging a victim with three other men, according to a 2014 DNAinfo report. He was released from jail on Dec. 17, only to be re-arrested hours later for Lora’s death, according to DNAinfo.
Solano’s release from jail last year stunned some critics, but Gomez stood by him.
“He was released based on the evidence that I uncovered and released on his own recognizance. That never happens — you getting released on your own recognizance,” the gumshoe said.
Gomez’s tactics have been called into question. He was recently accused by a Queens judge of coercing a witness of a gang slaying into not testifying.
The private investigator also helped get charges dismissed against Pedro Hernandez, the Bronx teen who became a poster boy for bail reform after spending more than a year on Rikers Island on a gun charge because he couldn’t pay bail.
Gomez soon found almost two dozen other people who claimed they were falsely arrested by NYPD Detective David Terrell.
The detective’s lawyer, Eric Sanders, accused Gomez of being a possible catalyst for Martinez’s murder — because the private eye helped put her son back on the street.
“Gomez’s actions have real consequences…He shouldn’t have his license in the first place,” Sanders said on Sunday.
“You won’t be able to hold him legally accountable, but he should be held ethically and morally accountable if it turns out that his client is involved in criminal behavior. This is the fallout.”Gomez waved off the lawyer’s accusations.
“I don’t dignify people like this. Let his words speak for himself. I won 88 cases. What has he won?” he said.
Despite being released, Solano still faces murder charges and is due back in court Monday as his trial continues.
“God willing his case will be proven innocent and God willing we’ll try to get this family to somewhere safety,” Gomez said.
Martinez’s neighbors on Sunday were still shaken by the senseless murder in their building.“I was in the living room. I was watching a movie with my kids. Then I heard the shot,” said a neighbor in the apartment next door, who declined to give his name. “I didn’t see nobody. I just hear the noise and come out and see nobody.”
Police recovered a shell casing in front of the woman’s apartment and stuck a piece of tape over the peephole where the bullet had gone through.
“(She) was a good neighbor,” the neighbor added. “I’m in shock. I couldn’t sleep. All night the police were over here. I’ve been living here seven years and this is the first time I see this.”