A 21-year-old Bronx man, charged with killing a college student at a Garden City restaurant earlier this month, was ordered held without bail at his arraignment Thursday in Hempstead.
Tyshaun Phillips, of 1139 Fteley Ave., was arrested Wednesday night and charged with second-degree murder in connection with the March 16 shooting death of Emmanuel Barnett, 21, of Cambria Heights, inside the Mint Restaurant and Lounge.
Barnett, who relatives said was studying electrical engineering at Queensborough Community College, was hospitalized after the 3:26 a.m. shooting, but later died. A 23-year-old man was shot in the leg after an altercation between patrons, but survived, authorities said.
Phillips pleaded not guilty to the murder charge at a hearing Thursday in Hempstead attended by several relatives of the defendant and the victim. He was arrested while attending a drug program in the Bronx, said his attorney, Ronald S. Nir. He had been on probation for a drug charge, Nir said.
Police have not revealed what led investigators to arrest Phillips, but said additional charges are possible.
The shooting occurred inside the Mint, an upscale establishment on Ring Road across from Roosevelt Field after an altercation, police said. An "unknown subject" then proceeded to "fire gunshots into a crowd of people" before fleeing, Nassau police said after the shooting.
Nir said it's unclear if Phillips was even at the club that night. He said Phillips never gave police a statement, and there was no physical evidence linking him to the shooting and no indication that witnesses identified him.
"Let's not rush to judgment," Nir said after the arraignment. "I don't know that the parties knew each other . . . and I don't know that my client was involved."
Members of Barnett's family at Thursday's hearing said he didn't know Phillips.
"I'm trying my best to cope with what happened," said Barnett's mother, Carmen Johnson, outside the courtroom. "I don't know the reason why God used my son for the example, but somehow he will unfold that."
Relatives said Barnett had four sisters who attended the hearing.
"I miss my baby brother," said his eldest sister, Jesenia Sealey, 39.
The engineering student's family sat in the fourth row during the hearing as Phillips, handcuffed and wearing jeans and a sweatshirt, was arraigned.
Several court officers stood watch and one asked everyone to remain calm. Phillips' relatives stood outside the courtroom.
Afterward, relatives of Barnett met in the hallway with prosecutor Daryl Levy. Nearby, Phillips' relatives huddled with Nir. The families said nothing to each other.
One by one, four members of Barnett's family embraced two Nassau investigators on the case, Dets. Michael Maloney and Charles DeCaro.
With John Valenti