The bullet that killed a 22-year-old Bronx
man in a wild Harlem
melee Sunday was fired by a police weapon - not the man he was brawling with, officials said Monday.
, who was shot six times in the 3 a.m. Lenox Ave. pandemonium, died after one fatal bullet ripped through his heart, lung, kidney and a key artery, the medical examiner said.
Police said that bullet, which was recovered from Soto's body, had polygonal markings on it consistent with a police-issued semi-automatic handgun.
The only civilian weapon at the scene, a .38 caliber revolver, had different bullets.
The revelation dramatically upped the stakes of the investigation into the chaotic shootout, in which cops fired a total of 46 bullets and hit at least six people, including a fellow officer and three random bystanders.
No one had been charged with a crime as of Monday afternoon.
The shooting was sparked by a vicious fistfight between Soto and Angel Alvarez
, 23, of Harlem, witnesses said.
officials initially said Alvarez shot and killed Soto with the revolver, then wheeled around and started shooting at four cops, who returned fire with a hail of semi-automatic gunfire.
Police said ballistics tests showed the 5-shot revolver was fired four times.
Witnesses came forward Monday to say the revolver did not belong to Alvarez but was instead in Soto's waistband, and some said neither Soto nor Alvarez fired it.
Several eyewitnesses said police officers - both uniformed and plainclothed - appeared to converge on the two battling men and open fire upon them.
"The cops started firing on Angel for no reason," eyewitness Jaffar Toomes
told the Daily News.
A police source on Monday said several witnesses saw Soto and Alvarez struggling over the gun, and at least one witness saw Soto shoot it.
One of the responding cops said he saw Alvarez holding the gun and shooting at him, and so he returned fire, the police source said.
Toomes said Soto had the gun, not Alvarez, but that he never fired it.
"They were arguing. They were scuffling. The kid from the Bronx pulled out a gun," Toomes said, describing the commotion on the dark street.
"There were four fights going on at the same time. The Bronx kid was pulling a gun out of his waist. Angel saw it. They started scuffling for it," he said.
"The cops started to focus their attention on Angel."
Remarkably, Alvarez lived, despite being shot as many as two dozen times.
"He's been talking and been conscience the whole time. He survived more gunshots wounds probably in the history of America
," said his lawyer, John Carney