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Man pleads not guilty in St. John’s shooting

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A Long Island man accused of shooting a St. John’s University football player who is now paralyzed and wounding a 19-year-old pleaded not guilty Tuesday to charges of attempted murder in the March dispute that spilled over onto the Jamaica campus.

Christopher Prince, 21, of Elmont, L.I. appeared before State Supreme Court Judge Joseph Grosso in Kew Gardens and entered an innocent plea to attempted murder, assault, criminal possession of a weapon and reckless endangerment.

Prince is out on $100,000 bail, which he posted in March.

He is charged with shooting St. John’s student Cory Mitchell, 22, in the spine on March 11 during a fight that ended on the Jamaica campus, leaving him paralyzed from the waist down. Mitchell, a linebacker on the Red Storm football team, was taking a semester off from his senior year at St. John’s at the time of the shooting.

The fight started at Traditions, a bar on Hillside Avenue in Jamaica, and continued near the campus dorms after feuding groups came through the school’s Gate 1 on Utopia Parkway, police said after the shooting.

Prince allegedly fired several shots into a large crowd of people, hitting Mitchell and Rashon Fray, 19, who is not a St. John’s student, in the leg. He was treated at a nearby hospital and released.

Assistant District Attorney Laurie Neustadt said Mitchell remains paralyzed from the waist down despite surgery in April to remove the bullet lodged in his spine.

Mitchell’s doctors have not seen much change in his condition since the surgery and expect his paralysis to be permanent, Neustadt said.

“He caused severe, permanent, and lasting injuries,” Neustadt said of Prince, who was picked out of lineups by five witnesses last March.

The incident at St. John’s was the first on-campus shooting in Queens in recent memory. Shortly after the shooting, the university hired former New York City Police Commissioner Raymond Kelly to head a new campus security task force.

Kelly recently made a proposal to school officials on the new security plan and the school is reviewing it, said Jody Fisher, a spokesman for St. John’s.

Reach reporter Betsy Scheinbart by e-mail at Timesledger@aol.com or call 229-0300 Ext. 138.

Posted 7:15 pm, October 10, 2011
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