Gunman Due in Court After Florida Capture – NBC New York



The man suspected of opening fire in Times Square earlier in May, injuring three people including a 4-year-old girl, was returned to New York to face charges after fleeing to Florida with his girlfriend in the aftermath of the shooting.

Farrakhan Muhammad was captured by police at a McDonald’s outside of Jacksonville on May 12, three days after the shooting, and faced a judge the next day. The 31-year-old made his initial appearance before a judge the following day, where he was told he was facing attempted murder charges.

More than three weeks after that first court appearance, Muhammad was brought back to New York on Friday. He was arrested, and in addition to the attempted murder charge, he faces three counts each of assault and reckless endangerment, and four counts of criminal use of a firearm.

Muhammad did not say anything to reporters as he was led out of the precinct in handcuffs by police. It was not immediately clear if a hearing had been held in New York; he will be held at Rikers Island.

Police did not say when Muhammad arrived in New York. Information about an attorney for Muhammad was not immediately available in court records.

While in custody in Florida before his extradition, he told the judge he didn’t know why he was arrested and that he wasn’t even in New York at the time of the incident. He also tried to claim he was not the shooter.

“They said, ‘I had a warrant.’ I said I don’t know what you are talking about,” he is heard saying on a video by the Broward County Sheriff’s Office. He also said in an interview that he did not know anything about the shooting and had been in New Jersey at the time.

“I left New York a few days ago … I was in (New) Jersey in a hotel,” Muhammad told a local news outlet. He said he went to Florida to live with his girlfriend’s relatives after being evicted.

Both the shooter and his girlfriend remain behind bars as they await extradition from Florida to New York. in a court appearance Thursday, the alleged shooter said he didn’t now why he was arrested. NBC New York’s Jonathan Dienst reports reports.

Muhammad’s girlfriend, Kristine Vergara, was also arrested in Florida after the manhunt for arrested for allegedly helping harbor a fugitive. She told the court she lived in Florida, but her bail was set at $500,000 after the judge deemed her a flight risk. Muhammad and Vergara were ordered to have no contact with each other.

Vergara has been charged with accessory after the fact to second-degree murder, after she admitted that she knew Muhammad was on the run from the NYPD, officials said. After initially denying any knowledge of her boyfriend’s involvement in the Times Square case, Vergara said she drove him to Florida to evade cops.

The two apparently left New York City together after the shooting, investigators said. NYPD detectives checked cameras that showed Muhammad leave Times Square after the gunfire and go to a single room occupancy hotel for the impoverished and homeless near West 42nd Street. There he changed clothes and was seen leaving with his girlfriend, identified as Kristine Vergara. The dark SUV he and his girlfriend had been driving was towed to an impound yard for further investigation, officials said.

The two were believed to have been heading south in an SUV and there was a confirmed sighting of the duo in North Carolina on Tuesday. (They apparently stopped for dog food for two dogs traveling with them, police said.) Meanwhile, investigators realized he had connections to some addresses in Florida.

A man suspected of shooting three people in New York’s Times Square, including a 4-year-old girl, was arrested Wednesday in Florida. New York City police said at a news conference that Farrakhan Muhammad was taken into custody near Jacksonville, four days after the shooting Saturday. NBC New York’s Jonathan Dienst reports.

Information emerged that Muhammad was in the Starke area, and local detectives and U.S. Marshals had been combing the community, officials said.

He was caught in Starke around lunchtime after U.S. Marshals spotted him eating in his car in a McDonald’s parking lot, officials said.  Two dogs were with the pair when they were arrested, with French fries lying on the car’s floor, police said.

Police said that he had “altered his appearance” by shaving his head. New York Police Department Chief of Detectives James Essig said that Muhammad was identified as the gunman by his brother, who told officers he was the intended target of the shooting.

The gun used in the shooting has not been recovered, although three shell casings had been.

The police officer who carried a 4-year-old girl to safety says the child barely cried on the way to the hospital after being hit shot in Times Square. Meanwhile, the search for the shooter continues. NBC New York’s Ida Siegal reports.



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