Boerum Hill

Man accused of gunning down stranger near Barclays Center pleads not guilty

December 13, 2017 By Paul Frangipane Brooklyn Daily Eagle
Matthew Passaro appears in Brooklyn Supreme Court to be arraigned on murder charges. Eagle photo by Paul Frangipane
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A 45-year-old man pleaded not guilty to murder charges at Brooklyn Supreme Court on Wednesday for allegedly gunning down an innocent pedestrian blocks away from the Barclays Center.

Matthew Passaro appeared before Supreme Court Justice Neil Firetog in bright orange prison garb to be arraigned on second-degree murder and criminal possession of a weapon for the Sept. 20 killing of Stephen Vargas, 47.

While walking down Atlantic Avenue in Boerum Hill, Passaro allegedly began yelling at Vargas, a passerby, according to court documents.

Passaro then allegedly ran around the corner, changed clothes, ran back to the victim and shot him multiple times outside 578 Atlantic Ave.

The man was caught on Nov. 1 in the Port Authority Bus Terminal with the .45 caliber pistol used to kill Vargas, court documents alleged.

“This defendant allegedly executed a completely innocent stranger in the middle of a busy street for no reason at all,” Brooklyn District Attorney-elect Eric Gonzalez said in a statement. “I now intend to hold him accountable for this wanton and senseless killing.”

Passaro faces 25 years to life in prison if convicted.

He was ordered held without bail to return to court on Feb. 23, 2018.

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