2008-07-11 / Front Page

Bust Bethea Shooter

Cops: Perps Lay In Wait For Random Target
By Howard Schwach

Police have arrested a Far Rockaway man in connection with the brutal murder of a 15-year-old girl who was shot and killed while attending a party at the Redfern Houses on May 17.

Brandon Bethea in a photo taken just prior to her murder. Brandon Bethea in a photo taken just prior to her murder. Court records identify the alleged shooter as Randolph (Randy) Washington, 17, of 22-04 Collier Avenue in Far Rockaway.

Sources say that Washington and another teen, who has not yet been identified by police, lay in wait at the rear of 12-50 Redfern Avenue with a view of 12- 70 Redfern Avenue, where an outdoor graduation party for Brandon Bethea's boyfriend was being held.

According to police, the two had no particular target in mind, but were waiting until enough targets showed up before they began shooting at the partygoers.

At about 11:10 p.m., police say, the party reached critical mass and the two men began to fire into the crowd.

More than a dozen shots were fired, one of them striking Brandon Bethea in the forehead, killing her immediately.

Bethea's family had moved to Jamaica, Queens to get away from the violence in the Redfern Houses. The teenager, who still attended Middle School 53 in Far Rockaway and was a few weeks from graduating from the eighth grade, returned for the party.

"[The arrest] is not going to bring her back, but it brings me some relief," Bethea's mother, Tineen Harris, told reporters.

Washington was arrested at his home on June 15, but police embargoed the news of the arrest because they were still looking for the second shooter, who, sources say, is also from Rockaway.

Washington also faces charges from a 2006 incident, in which he and a group of men were caught with a 9-milimeter weapon and seven bullets inside a gypsy cab in Far Rockaway, court records show.

Washington was arraigned on June 16 before Justice Dorothy Chin- Brandt in Queens Supreme Court, charged with murder in the second degree, manslaughter, and two counts of criminal possession of a weapon.

He was remanded without the possibility of bail for his next court date, which is set for July 23.

Bethea's death, along with the death of 16-year-old Tyrese Johnson on May 19 and the non-fatal shooting of five men in a drive-by shooting perpetrated by reputed MS-13 gang members, sparked action in the Far Rockaway community, bringing forth a number of plans to stop the violence and blackon black crime.

Just this week, the Redfern Community Center, which had been closed by budget cuts, reopened for the summer to provide a place for teenagers to go to become involved in non-violent activities.

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