Portrait of pain: 19-year-old East Harlem woman killed in Burger King robbery remembered with street renaming


Kristal Bayron-Nieves was doing everything right this time last year, holding down a steady job at a local Burger King while studying to be a nurse — but she’d never live to reach her full potential.

The 19-year-old East Harlem resident was shot dead on Jan. 9, 2022 on what was supposed to be her last late-night shift by an armed robber looking for cash from the fast food joint — pulling the trigger on her for just $100 in cash. 

One year later, her friends and family were still struggling with the incomprehensible agony left in the wake of the murder — the young woman’s mother, brother, and grandfather serving as the living, breathing cost of gun violence — while attending a street renaming ceremony in Bayron-Nieves’ honor Sunday.

Photo by Dean Moses
Photo by Dean Moses

“She doesn’t want anybody to forget what happened. But she also wants her daughter, a 19-year-old young woman, my baby to forever be remembered,” said City Council Member Diana Ayala, translating remarks from the victim’s mother, Kristie Nieves. “She takes solace in knowing that many of her family and friends who knew her are here today. When you go home today, she wants you to hug your children.”

Emotions ran raw at the Jan. 8 ceremony, spilling out in profuse tears as attendees embraced in the shadow of the cold-blooded crime that took place. Mayor Eric Adams was among those who shared in their grief, lamenting what he cited as a monumental loss mere days after he took office. 

Photo by Dean Moses
Photo by Dean Moses

“I remember like it was yesterday, walking into the household and seeing the family and how traumatized they were,” Mayor Adams said. “This is why we are so engaged in being preventive to not get guns in the hands of our young people, to send a clear message that these are not stats, these are not numbers, these are not just percentages—these are our babies. These are children and the pain never dissipates.”

Spectators released balloons into the sky in memory of Bayron-Nieves before officially unveiling the new street name. The crowd gathered around the lamppost, hugged and lit candles in honor of a life taken too soon.

“It’s particularly painful to think about Kristal, who did what we asked young people to do. She went out and got a job to earn money—not an easy job, working the overnight shift and fast food to help her family pay bills. She had a dream to save money to attend nursing school. Kristal today should have been in nursing school,” Manhattan Borough President Mark Levine said.

Photo by Dean Moses
Photo by Dean Moses
Photo by Dean Moses
Photo by Dean Moses