2010-06-11 / Top Stories

Hammels Shooter Convicted, Faces 25 To Life

A known Rockaway gangbanger has been convicted of fatally shooting a female bystander in the head when the defendant fired several shots at another man outside the Hammel Houses in April 2009, Queens District Attorney Richard A. Brown announced this week.

“The defendant stands convicted of callously standing in front of a densely populated public housing development and – without any thought about the safety of others in the vicinity – recklessly fired an illegal handgun at an unarmed man, striking and fatally wounding an innocent bystander,” District Attorney Brown said. “I hope that the victim’s family finds some closure in knowing that the person responsible for shooting their loved one has now been held accountable for his actions and will probably spend the rest of his natural life in prison.”

The District Attorney identified the defendant as Nigel (also known as “Newz”) Vasser, 23, of 108-32 164th Street in the Jamaica sections of Queens. Vasser was convicted yesterday of second-degree murder, second-degree attempted murder and second-degree criminal possession of a weapon following three hours of jury deliberation. Queens Supreme Court Justice Gregory L. Lasak, who presided at the nearly three-week trial, set sentencing for June 23, 2010, at which time Vasser faces up to 25 years to life in prison.

According to the trial testimony, Vasser, a reputed member of the Bloods street gang, Brown said, was at the Hammels Houses, located at 84-12 Rockaway Beach Boulevard, at approximately 7:20 p.m. on April 23, 2009, when he pointed a handgun in the direction of Derrell “Buddha” Daniels, an alleged Crips member, and fired several shots, striking Hammels House resident Melissa Williams, 28, in the head. 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 the following 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.

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