Fight leads to shooting of cop-to-be

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A Springfield Gardens man who should have received his degree from the John Jay College of Criminal Justice next week was killed Saturday afternoon as he was trying to settle a dispute between his friends, police said.

William Bernard, 22, left his home at 145-12 Guy R. Brewer Blvd. when some of his friends asked him to act as a mediator, said Bernard’s girlfriend, AnnMarie Brown. As he tried to break up the argument at 146th Terrace between 182nd and 183rd streets, the fight erupted into gunfire, and Bernard was shot once in the chest, police said.

“He was trying to be a mediator,” Brown said. “He was helping a friend and he got caught in the middle.”

The gunman fled in a green Dodge, and no arrests had been made, police said.

Bernard, the youngest of nine siblings in a close family, was to don his cap and gown May 29 at his graduation ceremony at John Jay College of Criminal Justice, but instead one of his sisters will walk in the processional at Madison Square Garden, she said.

Bernard was a graduate of the Fork Union Military Academy in Virginia, and he was preparing to enter the Port Authority Police Academy this fall, she said.

“If you were in trouble, he would always help you,” his sister said. “His friends called him because they trusted him to work things out.”

Bernard’s desire to serve the community was a large part of who he was, Brown said. He often spent time mentoring young boys and feeding homeless people, she said.

“He wanted to help people,” Brown said. “You see a lot of unfair stuff on television, and he just wanted to help.”

Bernard was also an avid shopper who devoured clothes, books, music and movies, his sister said.

“He loved shopping,” she said. “If you saw his room, you would know.”

Bernard also liked to travel, cook and write, Brown said.

“He loved writing poems,” she said. “If he needed a card, he wouldn’t buy one, he would make his own.”

Bernard’s funeral was scheduled for Thursday, May 22, at 9:45 a.m. It was to be held at the Christ the King Roman Catholic Church at 145-39 Farmers Blvd. in Springfield Gardens. Burial at St. John’s Cemetery in Middle Village was to follow.

Reach reporter Courtney Dentch by e-mail at, or by phone at 718-229-0300, Ext. 138.

Posted 7:06 pm, October 10, 2011
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