2009-05-08 / Top Stories

Shooting Victim Succumbs

Howard Schwach

A Rockaway woman who was fatally shot by a Jamaica thug died earlier this week from her head wound, while the man who shot her awaits his next court date and the probability that the charges against him would be upgraded to murder.

Melissa Williams, 28, a Hempstead resident who once lived in the Hammel Houses, was shot at the public housing complex on Saturday, April 25 by a man identified by court papers as Nigel Vasser, 23.

Police charge that Vasser fired several shots at a local gang member known on the street as "Buddha," hitting Williams once in the head instead.

Witnesses told police that the shooter, who was wearing an Eight-Ball Jacket, fled the scene and could be found in Apartment 6E at 85-02 Rockaway Beach Boulevard in the Hammel Houses complex, where officers from ESU's Truck Nine and the 100 Precinct detective squad apprehended Vasser.

Williams was rushed to the Peninsula Hospital Center and then was transferred to Long Island Jewish Hospital in Queens, reportedly brain dead and on life support.

Her parents took Williams off life support on Saturday, and her funeral was held at the St. John's Baptist Church on Beach 74 Street on Tuesday.

Published reports say that her funeral was attended by 300 mourners and a large detail of police officers, both in uniform and in plain clothes.

Rocco Parascandola, Newsday's crime beat reporter said on Tuesday that Williams' death was part of an ongoing battle between two gangs - GIB (Get it in Bricks), a drug gang known to center on the Hammel Houses complex, and an offshoot of the Bloods gang called HRG Blood, for Hood Related Gangster.

Parascandola reported that police sources told him that Williams was an associate of the GIB, but friends and relatives scoffed at that idea.

They say that Williams was just in the wrong place when the shooting started.

A police source close to the story told The Wave that Williams was "very innocent," and that she was not a known gang affiliate, but that she may have been involved with a gang member. Vassar, police say, is an HRG Blood member.

The Bloods and GIB have been warring since May of 2006, when a local man was shot after a GIB member found him handing out stolen gang sweatshirts, sources said.

Many of the Rockaway murders that took place in late 2006 can be traced to that gang war.

On April 27, Vasser was remanded without possibility of bail and charged with attempted murder, assault and criminal possession of a weapon.

A spokesperson for Queens District Attorney Richard Brown told The Wave on Tuesday that the charges against Vasser have been upgraded to homicide and Queens prosecutors will ask a grand jury to indict him on those charges after his next court date, which is set for May 11.

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