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June 5, 2024

Suspect who shot two Queens cops ordered held behind bars indefinitely at virtual arraignment

By Dean Moses

The suspect who shot two Queens cops earlier this week faced an arraignment judge from his hospital bedside Wednesday morning.

A legion of cops from the 115th Precinct flooded Queens County Criminal Court in Kew Gardens on June 5 for the arrangement of 19-year-old Venezuelan migrant Bernardo Raul Castro Mata to face the man who allegedly attempted to kill their brothers in blue. Mata, still undergoing treatment after being shot himself, appeared in the court virtually from NewYork-Presbyterian Queens Hospital in Flushing.

According to statements made on the record, Mata allegedly droveg a scooter the wrong way along Ditmars Boulevard and 90th Street on Monday at around 1:40 a.m. when Police Officers Christopher Abreu and Richard Yarusso, and Sergeant Nicholas Condos attempted to stop him. However, Mata allegedly ditched his vehicle and fled.

A struggle ensued when cops caught up with the young suspect on 23rd Avenue and 89th Street and tried to place him in cuffs. Law enforcement agents said Mata ended up wrestling with the cops until he reached into his bag, pulled out a handgun and placed the firearm to Yarusso’s chest before firing at point-blank range.

But the shot fired at Yarusso wound up striking the officer’s bullet-proof vest, saving his life. 

Seconds after pulling the trigger on Yarusso, authorities said, Mata then turned the gun on Abru, shooting him in the leg. The officers returned fire, striking Mata ink the ankle.

Both officers survived their injuries and were released later on Monday morning from Elmhurst Hospital. 

Arraignment Judge Jeffrey Gershuny condemned the incident and deemed Mata a flight risk. Statements made in court also revealed that Mata was reportedly removed from the migrant shelter at the Courtyard Marriott located at 90-10 Ditmars Blvd. in East Elmhurst back in May 16 and would not provide police with a current address.

“The allegations here are deeply troubling,” Judge Gershuny said. “This defendant is clearly a flight risk, trying to avoid a traffic stop using violence any means necessary to get away, leaves this court with no doubt whatsoever that he would flee with any means possible.”

Judge Gershuny ordered Mata held without bail; if convicted, the young suspect faces 80 years to life in prison.

After the hearing, Queens District Attorney Melinda Katz said that she felt like justice was served. While also acknowledging Mata is a migrant who entered the country through Eagle Pass, TX, she also charged that the issue is not about immigration status but instead about the vile act he committed.

“This is about three police officers who put their lives in jeopardy in order to simply make a traffic stop, two of them being shot point blank range,” DA Katz said.

Following the court appearance New York Police Benevolent Association President Patrick Hendry joined cops from the 115th Precinct on the courthouse steps and praised Judge Gershuny for remanding Mata.

“Today, this court sent a clear message that if you attack and shoot a New York City police officer, you’re going to stay behind bars, and that message needs to be sent,” Hendry said. “The court sent the message that they’re going to support these police officers who put their lives on the line every single day.”