Brooklyn DA indicts 21 alleged gang members with suspected connection to 2017 murders
The Brooklyn district attorney announced on Tuesday the indictment of 21 alleged Flatbush gang members who he says are responsible for numerous shootings, including two 2017 homicides — just one day after top NYPD brass accused the DA of going soft on gun charges.
The 65-count indictment charged various defendants with murder, attempted murder, conspiracy to commit murder and other charges related to several shootings, including two separate 2017 murders of Darren Harrison and Rohan Levy, the latter a 15-year-old boy who authorities say was killed in a case of mistaken identity. Just weeks after those murders, a father and his two sons were stopped in 2017 with two dismantled guns that prosecutors believe were used in both murders. All three were arrested last week.
“They’re engaging in a war with these rival gang members. They’ve been doing it for years. This investigation spans two years,” Brooklyn DA Eric Gonzalez said. “These are some of the most dangerous people, we allege, in Brooklyn.”
The defendants were part of different subsets of the Folk Nation gang, and the shootings were targeted at rival gang members, usually Bloods or Crips, Gonzalez said. Of the 21, 19 have been arrested. Fifteen were arraigned before Supreme Court Justice Martin Murphy last week. All the defendants accused of murder are being held in jail without bail.
The conspiracy lasted from July 2016 to June 2019, and the crimes targeting rival gangs had no purpose beyond the constant rivalry between the gangs, Gonzalez said. “It’s nonsense, but it’s deadly.”
On Feb. 5, 2017, in Canarsie, Khaysean Porter allegedly shot and killed Darren Harrison, who was part of another gang. Just a few weeks later, Porter was in the car with his brother, Keemari Porter, and his father, Walter Porter, when they were stopped by police in East New York. Police allegedly found two dismantled guns they believe were used in the murder of Harrison and Levy. Cops could not make an arrest because the guns, having been dismantled, were technically inoperable.
Gonzalez showed video of different defendants shooting guns, including surveillance video of the shooting of Levy.
Surveillance footage of the shooting that killed 15-year-old Rohan Levy. Video courtesy of the Office of the Brooklyn DA
“The guns were dismantled, made to be inoperable, and we believe were on the way to being disposed of,” he said.
The DA specified that his office’s takedown was targeted — not spread across a large dragnet of alleged gang members, but focused on people linked to major gun crimes.
He said his office’s diversion program, which has existed for more than a decade, and which NYPD Chief Terence Monahan blasted Monday at a press conference, only represented a small slice of gun cases the DA handles, and that none of the 21 men indicted would be eligible.
The diversion program is for young people charged with possessing a gun, but not accused of committing a crime with it. For 12 to 18 months, they have curfew, group meetings, and sessions with social workers. They are also offered job training and college admission opportunities. Their cases can be entirely dismissed if they complete the program, but if they break the conditions or reoffend, they can get prison time based on their original guilty pleas.
“We tend to find people who are younger, who possessed a gun, whether it’s in their home or somewhere else. They’re not accused of using the gun in the commission of the crime,” Gonzalez said.
“We had four different instances where someone was recently put into a diversion program. Two of those individuals were rearrested with guns — one was rearrested during a search warrant with ammunition in the apartment, and one, just over the July 4th weekend, was arrested for throwing a bottle at a police officer,” Monahan said Monday about Gonzalez’s diversion program.
Gonzalez will be meeting with Mayor Bill de Blasio and Police Commissioner James P. O’Neill on Tuesday and plans to discuss Monahan’s comments, but he struck a conciliatory tone Tuesday on the subject.
“We all share a singular purpose,” Gonzalez said. “This is not about fairness it’s about can we keep the people of Brooklyn safe. Those that go to the diversion programs are cases that we screen carefully with the police department.”
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