‘Our Family is Completely Destroyed’
WILLIAMSBURG — As the family of Daniel Enriquez, the Park Slope man whose shooting death aboard a subway train shocked the city, gathered for his funeral on May 31, his sister vowed to honor his memory by fighting to stop escalating gun violence in New York City.
“I want to use my voice to raise the real concerns of safety and gun violence,” Griselda Vile told The Tablet in an interview before the funeral. “I want to be part of the national movement to prevent and minimize gun violence. And I want to take back the city that we love and make it safe and make it a better city for our children and also for the future.”
In her quest, Vile, 43, said she will draw inspiration from her late brother.
“We have to go on. One thing my brother always, always said to me, ‘Fear can make you weak and it can steal so much of you,’ ” she explained.
Vile called the day of her brother’s murder, May 22, “one of the hardest days of my life.”
What keeps her going, she said, is her deep Catholic faith. “My entire childhood. We grew up reading the Bible praying in the morning, praying at night meditation,” she recalled.
Part of what also keeps her going is her desire to pay tribute to her brother’s life in a meaningful way.
“He was always my hero,” she said.
Enriquez, 48, was laid to rest following a funeral Mass at the Church of the Transfiguration in Williamsburg on May 31 as members of his grieving family expressed anger and frustration over the city’s persistent rise in violent crime.
“Our family is completely destroyed,” Michelle Enriquez, the victim’s sister, told the media outside the church. “We loved Danny very much and we are devastated how crime is just getting out of control in New York City. We can’t even go on the subways feeling safe.”
Enriquez, a research analyst at Goldman Sachs, was shot to death on Sunday May 22 while riding a Q train en route to brunch in Manhattan. Witnesses told police investigators there wasn’t a confrontation — or any words exchanged at all — between Enriquez and the alleged gunman, Andrew Abdullah, before the shooting.
Abdullah, 25, who police say fled the train immediately after the shooting, was arrested three days later. He has been charged with second-degree murder and criminal possession of a weapon.
Emily Tuttle, a spokeswoman for Manhattan District Attorney Alvin Bragg, said prosecutors filed a court document known as a Certificate of Affirmative Grand Jury Action on May 27, indicating that Abdullah has been indicted by a grand jury. The indictment is sealed until his arraignment in New York State Supreme Court — something that is expected to take place in the coming weeks, Tuttle said.
Hundreds of people attended the funeral Mass, which was conducted entirely in Spanish. The victim’s partner, Adam Pollack, was there, along with his parents, Ruperto and Eustacia, and his siblings, Ruth, Griselda, Carolina, and David. Also in attendance was Goldman Sachs CEO David Solomon.
Transfiguration was chosen as the church for the funeral Mass because it is the place where the victim’s parents were married and where he attended school, Vile said.
Auxiliary Bishop Neil Tiedemann, the episcopal vicar of Brooklyn, briefly left the altar so that he could offer words of comfort in Spanish to Enriquez’s family, who were seated in the first pew.
Another poignant moment came when Hannah Ray, a friend of Enriquez’s, picked up her guitar and performed a song she had written for him.
“I’m never letting you go. You have a heart of gold,” she sang.
The family is comforted by their loving memories of him, according to Vile. In the interview with The Tablet, she described Enriquez as a “renaissance man,” who spoke several languages, played the guitar and clarinet, and had recently begun piano lessons. He had a keen interest in Irish music, she recalled.
“He was the only Mexican who probably thought he was part Irish,” she said.
Vile briefly lapsed into the present tense as she spoke emotionally about her brother, saying, “He is brilliant. He’s one of the smartest people I know. Don’t watch ‘Jeopardy!’ with him because before they read the question, he’s already yelling the answer.”
Enriquez had a deep interest in his family’s genealogy and took frequent trips to Mexico, where his parents were from, to research the family’s history. “To me, he was the coolest person,” his sister said.
Despite her brother’s murder, Vile said she’s staying put. “I’m still a New Yorker,” she insisted. “I do not have plans to leave New York City. I love this city.”