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Corona Man Sentenced to 15 Years in Prison in Stray Bullet Death of Jackson Heights Woman

Bertha Arriaga with her husband and three young sons (Photo: GoFundMe)

March 28, 2022 By Christian Murray

A 32-year-old Corona man has been sentenced to 15 years in prison for the firing of an illegal gun that killed a mother of three children—via a stray bullet— inside her Jackson Heights apartment in 2020.

Issam Elabbar, who pleaded guilty in December 2021 to manslaughter in the second degree, killed Bertha Arriaga, 43, when he fired an illegal gun on a Jackson Heights street at around 1 a.m. on Sept. 30, 2020, and a stray bullet pierced a window of her 3rd floor apartment hitting her in the neck.

Arriaga’s 14-year-old son heard his mother gasping for air in the kitchen and then discovered her in a pool of blood on the floor. Her husband performed CPR but the injury proved fatal.

“The victim of this senseless crime was in her home – a place where one would expect to be safe from harm,” said Queens District Attorney Melinda Katz in a statement. “Tragically, the woman’s oldest son discovered his mother gasping for air and bleeding to death.”

Bertha Arriaga was found by her son lying on the kitchen floor with a fatal bullet wound inside their third floor apartment at 91-16 34th Ave. (Google Maps)

Arriaga was killed while she was looking out her kitchen window after she heard loud noises on the street.

At the time, there were two men trying to steal a bicycle in the vicinity of her 34th Avenue and 92nd Street building.

According to police, Elabbar fired the fatal shot over his shoulder as he was leaving the scene. The bullet ripped through the window and pierced Arriaga’s neck.

The NYPD released video footage of the men trying to steal the bike shortly after Arriaga’s death. Police received a tip identifying Elabbar as one of the two men in the footage.

Elabbar, who also pleaded guilty to criminal possession of a weapon in the second degree, was also sentenced to five years’ post release supervision in addition to his 15-year sentence.

Arriaga, a Mexican immigrant, left behind her husband and three sons.

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