New York 1 News

March 13, 2003

Alleged Triggerman In Police Shooting Arraigned On Murder Charges


The alleged triggerman accused of fatally shooting two police officers on Staten Island earlier this week was formally arraigned on murder charges Thursday, and ordered held without bail.

Ronell Wilson, 20, was arraigned on two charges of murder in the first degree, two counts of murder in the second degree, and one count each of robbery and criminal possession of weapon in connection with the deaths of undercover officers James V. Nemorin, 36, and Rodney J. Andrews, 34.

Wilson has been assigned to capitol defenders because he may face the death penalty.

Prosecutors have also requested that he be separated from the rest of the inmate population, both for his own protection and to prevent him from communicating any messages while he is behind bars.

“We want to keep him away from the general population, where he might be able to interact with somebody and pass messages or do things that might interfere with the case, such as possible threats on witnesses,” said prosecutor David Lehr.

Dozens of cops crammed into a Staten Island courtroom for the 120-minute arraignment, including the Pat Lynch, the head of the Patrolmen's Benevolent Association.

“That madman will not be allowed to go anywhere without seeing that the shield of the NYPD is there in support of their fallen officers,” Lynch said.

Jessie Jacobus, 17, who was allegedly in the detectives’ car when they were killed, 16-year-old Mitchell Diaz and 18-year-old Omar Green all face second-degree murder charges. Charges are also pending against 23-year-old Paris Bullock and 19-year-old Michael Whitten.

Law enforcement officials say the five men may be arraigned Friday, or possibly as late as Monday.

The Staten Island district attorney is deciding whether to seek the death penalty against any of the defendants. Police Commissioner Ray Kelly and Borough President James Molinaro say they support capital charges.

After an intense three-day manhunt across the city and stretching as far as Pennsylvania, Wilson and Bullock were arrested while getting into a livery cab in Red Hook, Brooklyn, Wednesday. Police traced Wilson’s cellphone.

Investigators now believe the two detectives were killed Monday night as part of a preplanned robbery. According to police, the detectives picked up Wilson and Jacobus in the Tompkinsville section to buy a gun in an undercover sting, but they lost contact with their backup officers and were fatally shot in the back of their heads and left in the street.

“We believe at this time that Ronell Wilson was the shooter, and we believe that he was accompanied by Jacobus,” Police Commissioner Ray Kelly said at a news conference Wednesday afternoon. “We believe Omar Green facilitated and was present during the first sale of a gun on March 3, and arranged for this event. We believe that he intended it to be a robbery.”

Whitten’s girlfriend, Jackie Gonzalez, told NY1 he just got mixed up with the wrong crowd. “He's a good man,” she said. “He goes to college; he's educated. It's just he chose the wrong friends to be with.”

Meanwhile, police said dispatchers at a Brooklyn livery cab company did the right thing, helping them catch the last two suspects Wednesday by alerting police when Wilson and Harris Bullock called for a cab in Red Hook.

“Police wanted to use our cab to go over and get them so the captain rode with our driver," said dispatcher Ralph Sanchez. "He beeped the horn the two men didn't come out but police went in and found them."

Funeral arrangements have been made for the slain officers, the first members of the NYPD killed in the line of duty since the World Trade Center attack. Detective Andrews will be buried on Tuesday, and Detective Nemorin will be laid to rest on Saturday.

The Detectives Endowment Association is setting up a fund for the officers' five children. The Silver Shield Foundation, set up by Yankees owner George Steinbrenner, has also earmarked $20,000 for each child.