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St. Albans man charged in murder of off-duty correction officer: DA

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Days after a candlelight vigil was held for slain Correction Officer Jonathan Narain, who was killed last week in South Richmond Hill, a suspect from St. Albans was charged with second-degree murder and two counts of criminal possession of a weapon, according to Queens District Attorney Richard Brown’s office.

The suspect, Gifford Hunter, 30, is being held on the three counts without bail and was ordered Monday to return to court Oct. 10 by Queens Criminal Court Judge Toni Cimino.

Department of Correction Commissioner Cynthia Brann issued a statement on Twitter Sunday morning thanking the Correction Intelligence Bureau, the NYPD and the Regional Fugitive Task Force for finding the suspect swiftly for their “brother.”

Brann had previously issued a statement offering her condolences to those who knew Narain.

“The entire Department of Corrections is grieving upon learning the tragic shooting death of our brother in blue while off duty,” Brann said last Friday after Narain was killed. “My deepest sympathy and heartfelt condolences go out to his family, friends, and colleagues throughout the Department.”

On the early morning of Sept. 14, Narain, 27, was at the intersection of 120th Street and 103rd Avenue heading to work, when at approximately 1:36 a.m. he was shot after the suspect allegedly fired a weapon into a vehicle driven by Narain, fatally striking him once in the head, according to the complaint.

“The defendant is accused of firing a single shot into the head of an off-duty NYC Corrections officer, mortally wounding him,” Brown said.

Narain was transported to Jamaica Hospital, where he was pronounced dead.

A candlelight vigil was held at the site of the incident and a wake was held at 104-52 111 St. in South Richmond Hill Sept. 14. The funeral was scheduled to be held Thursday, Sept. 20, at Bergen Funeral Service at 114-30 Rockaway Blvd. in South Ozone Park from 9 a.m. to 12 p.m.

After learning of the shooting, the Correction Officers’ Benevolent Association — a correctional officer union — issued a $10,000 reward for any information on the suspect.

“This was a cold-hearted and senseless act of violence that will not be tolerated in Queens County,” Brown said.

Before his death, Narain had taken the Correction Captain exam, according to DOC co-workers on Facebook.

Mauricio Londono, a friend and co-worker of Narain started a change.org petition on the social media platform to have his colleague promoted posthumously to the rank of captain. As of Wednesday, it received 5,403 signatures for its original goal of 5,000, and had its goal moved to 7,500.

“If anyone knew Jonathan, one of his goals was to be promoted to the rank of Correction Captain since he took the promotional exam,” Londono wrote on the change.org website. “As is the practice by NYPD, FDNY, and other Civil Servant agencies, officers killed in the Line of Duty are promoted posthumously as a sign of respect, gratitude and honor to the families they have left behind.”

If Hunter is convicted he could face up to 25-years to life in prison, according to the complaint.

“My office will continue to work tirelessly to combat the proliferation of illegal guns in our community and will vigorously prosecute those who disobey our laws,” said Brown.

Reach reporter Naeisha Rose by e-mail at nrose@cnglocal.com or by phone at (718) 260–4573.

Posted 12:00 am, September 24, 2018
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