A 17-year-old "crack" addict, Torres was arrested by New York police on January 8, 1988, after he shot and killed a clerk in the robbery of a grocery store. Cornered on a rooftop following a twenty-minute chase, Torres was charged with killing five persons and wounding six others in a series of Harlem robberies that began on New Year's Day, netting $2,000 cash in support of his drug habit. Born and raised in New York City through the age of seven, Torres was then transplanted by his parents to their native Puerto Rico. Returning to Harlem in the summer of 1987, he fell in with the proverbial "bad crowd" and was soon ensnared by narcotics addiction, swiftly learning to feed his habit by theft. On January 1, 1988, Torres robbed four victims in a six-hour period, grossing $28 after he killed an elderly man with two shots in the head. The next day, he held up three stores in the space of an hour, shooting four persons and killing two of them. Torres bagged $80 in the shop where he killed Milton Ronquillo, age 40; at his next stop, the crazed youth shot three persons, fatally wounding Alberto Paypumps. Five days later, on January 7, Torres gunned down two victims while robbing a neighborhood market; Pablo Rojas would die from his wounds the next day. Facing arrest after his fifth murder, on January 8, Torres was charged with five counts of second-degree murder, six counts of attempted murder, and nine counts of first-degree robbery.