A member of the MS-13 street gang admitted in court Monday that he killed a bouncer in a Hempstead bar to gain the respect of other gang members and not because he had any sort of personal beef with the victim.
Speaking through a Spanish interpreter, Vidal Espinal, 24, said that he fatally shot security guard David Nestor Moreno in the head in March 2010 "in order to maintain and increase my position in the MS-13 and afterward I was given more respect from other MS-13 members because I 'put in work' for the gang."
Espinal, an undocumented native of El Salvador, said in federal court in Central Islip that he shot Moreno with a .22-caliber handgun after the security guard had an altercation with other members of the gang several weeks before.
Police at the time said that Moreno, who died of the gunshot a week after the shooting, had been shot between the eyes.
The altercation with the other MS-13 members arose when Moreno attempted to get them to pay for drinks as they were leaving the bar, sources said.
Even though Moreno sprayed the MS-13 members with mace, they fled without paying the $40 bar tab, but one of them said they would get even with him, the sources said.
Espinal, who was arrested 2 1/2 weeks after the shooting as a result of an investigation by FBI agents and Nassau County homicide detectives on the FBI's Long Island Gang Task Force, was not involved in the initial altercation.
Espinal's attorney, John Carman of Garden City, declined to comment, as did Eastern District federal prosecutor John Durham.
Espinal faces up to life in prison when he is sentenced by U.S. District Judge Joseph Bianco.