Detectives are investigating a triple shooting outside a Brooklyn apartment building early Sunday that killed the mother of a 5-year-old girl and a young man, police said.
Crystal Sweet, 22, was shot dead in the courtyard of a building in the Sheepshead Bay Houses, where she lived with her family and her daughter Lydia, police and relatives said.
She fell near a bench – not far from an as yet unidentified young man who was also killed in the early morning gunfire.
Another man was also shot in the melee and was rushed by ambulance to Kings County Hospital, where he was in critical condition early Sunday afternoon, police said.
Sweet’s family said she had gone out Saturday night with her boyfriend.
Her mother, Josephine Rodriguez, 44, said she was sleeping inside the family’s apartment when the gunshots jarred her awake shortly after 5 a.m.
Then she heard the terrible screams.
"Crystal! Crystal!" cried the voices in the darkened courtyard. "Crystal! Crystal!"
Hours later, Rodriguez, her eyes swollen and red from crying, described Sweet as a doting mother who worked long hours as a home health aide to provide for her daughter.
"She was an awesome, great mother," Rodriguez said.
"She was always happy, no matter what the circumstance," added Sweet’s father, Ricardo Rodriguez. "She always had a smile on her face."
Police responded to the courtyard off Nostrand Ave. in Sheepshead Bay following a flurry of 911 calls. By the time officers arrived, Sweet and a man whose age has not been determined were dead, police said.
Cops have not yet released the names of the men. Police also did not reveal a motive for the shooting, and said investigators are still sorting out the circumstances.
The critically injured 30-year-old has not been taken into custody, police said.
Police could not confirm that Sweet’s boyfriend was one of the victims, but her family and her best friend said the boyfriend had gotten into a dispute with someone earlier in the day.
"I think somebody was after him," her best friend, Rosa Hernandez, said.
Hernandez and Sweet’s family gathered in a playground near the crime scene Sunday. They grieved and looked on as detectives and officers from the NYPD’s Crime Scene Investigations Unit searched the area with metal detectors.
One of the bodies, covered in a blue tarp, had not been removed as of early Sunday afternoon.
A resident of the Sheepshead Bay Houses wondered if the triple shooting was a harbinger of a crime-filled summer.
"It’s a shame," the neighbor said. "It hasn’t even got hot yet and they done started."