2001-05-05 / Front Page

Killer Brought To Justice

Killer Brought To Justice

Cops Finally Nab Their Man

By Joan Ward George

Detectives from the 101 Precinct finally "got their man", just a little more than a year after he allegedly participated in a shootout that resulted in the death of Maria Medina, a 45 year old grandmother and mother of three. Mrs. Medina was caught in the crossfire of gun wielding men while she was on routine tenant patrol in the troubled Redfern housing development building located at 15-40 Hassock Street.

After a year-long investigation Derrick Harris, a.k.a. Wiz, was picked up at his home by Detective Kevin Cashen last Thursday night, April 26. He was arrested and charged with two counts of murder in the second degree and two counts of criminal possession of weapons. According to Sgt. Kelly, head of the 101 Precinct detective squad, they knew Harris was the fourth shooter involved in the incident that resulted in Mrs. Medina’s death since the beginning of the investigation. However, until just recently they lacked sufficient evidence to assure an indictment.

Three other men were arrested shortly after the incident and were also charged with the homicide. According to Detective Cashen, although two additional men involved in the shootout are still being sought for prosecution, police believe that now they have the four actual shooters behind bars.

Mrs. Medina was killed March 9, 2000 while she was at her lobby patrol post in the building of her Redfern apartment building. Her 11 year- old daughter was with her, and there were other neighbors who were sitting in the lobby when the first of shots were fired. According to police, nearly 30 rounds were fired. Medina reportedly tried to make it to the elevator, but was caught by the deadly bullet during her attempt to escape. Ironically, Mrs. Medina devoted her life to taking care of her family and friends and to making her neighborhood safe from the violence caused by drug pushers.

Also injured in the shooting was a young man from Ridgewood, who was visiting his girlfriend who lives in the building. He was shot in the leg and transported to St. John’s Episcopal Hospital.

Police believe that the shootout was the result of a long-standing dispute over a girlfriend, whose name was withheld throughout the investigation.

At the time of the shooting Queens District Attorney Richard Brown said, "Mrs. Medina’s death was a senseless tragedy that calls out for a re-doubling of our efforts to rid Far Rockaway of guns and violence."

Harris was remanded, without possibility of bail, and faces a court date on May 20.

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