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  • Gunfire erupted near a strip mall in the Bronx before 10 a.m. Thursday; a woman and two men were shot and all three of them died[hhmc]

  • Police say the men, who were shot in the head, appear to have been the intended targets; the woman may have been a bystander[hhmc]

  • Witnesses described running for cover under park benches amid the hail of bullets on what was otherwise a quiet morning in the neighborhood[hhmc]

A woman and two men died when a gunman opened fire outside a diner near a Bronx strip mall in broad daylight Thursday, sending bystanders running for cover under park benches on an otherwise quiet morning in the neighborhood, police and witnesses tell News 4.

Police say the 45-year-old woman was shot in the torso as gunfire erupted outside a diner near a small strip mall housing a 99 cent store, pharmacy and deli near Randall and Castle Hill avenues around 9:45 a.m. The two men who were killed were shot in the head. A witness said one of the men killed was a regular at the diner, went in to use the restroom and was shot when he left.

The second male victim managed to run a block away before he fell to the ground. Witnesses said the woman who was killed may have been outside at a table signing people up for health initiatives, but police haven't confirmed that.

Authorities say the suspected shooter was last seen wearing dark clothes and running toward Randall Avenue. No possible motive has been discussed, but police say the male victims appear to have been the targets. Cops have some surveillance video and are canvassing the area for more; they also ask that anyone who witnessed the chaos come forward.

News 4 cameras showed a huge law enforcement response in the area shortly after the shooting. Yellow caution tape cordoned off the parking lot of the strip mall area. Later, witnesses described chilling moments as bullets flew.

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"What would you think, man, I was ducking under the bench!" said one witness when News 4 asked him about the gunfire. "Of course it's scary."

Other witnesses described the sound of gunfire as eerie and jarring amid what was otherwise a very quiet and peaceful morning in the neighborhood. There wasn't even any vehicular noise at the time of the shooting, one man said.

"You just heard gunshots going off, that's all you heard," he said, adding each shot was heard so clearly that he thought only one gun must have been used.

The man, who says he had been out getting breakfast, was at the corner when he heard the gunfire. He says he stopped in his tracks — then saw one wounded victim on the sidewalk in one place, another victim in another spot, a woman trying to compress the wound to prevent him from bleeding out.

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USA Today

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