Medford intruders shoot and kill one man, wound another

One man was killed and another wounded when two men barged into a Meford home late Wednesday. Suffolk police are seeking two suspects. Videojournalist: James Carbone (Aug. 8, 2013)

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Two masked gunmen barged into a Medford home and shot a man to death as he watched TV and another in the face after he tackled one of the intruders, police and a witness said yesterday.

Jeremy Phillips, 25, of Coram, who was visiting friends at the Gray Avenue home Wednesday night, was shot dead and Jermel Bonaparte, 28, was taken to Stony Brook University Hospital with a gunshot wound to the face after the 10:45 p.m. shooting, police said. On Thursday, he was listed in stable condition, said his fiancee, Olivia Smith, 23, who witnessed the shootings.

She said the gunmen were silent after Bonaparte answered a knock at the door before bursting in and opening fire, their faces covered by bandannas.

"They pushed my fiance and the other guy ran up to my friend that was sitting on the couch," said Smith, who witnessed the shootings from her kitchen. "Then, my friend stood up and [the gunman] shot my friend."

Immediately, Bonaparte, 28, tackled the man holding him at gunpoint and it was during the struggle that he was shot, Smith said. Pebbles, Smith's pet pit bull, was also shot dead by one of the gunmen before they fled, she said.

"It's all done in a couple of seconds," said Suffolk police Det. Lt. Jack Fitzpatrick, commander of the Homicide Squad, adding that police were continuing to search for the suspects Thursday.

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Smith, her 5-year-old son, who was asleep in an upstairs bedroom, and Phillip's father, who was in the bathroom, were not harmed.

The motive for the shootings is a mystery, said Suffolk police and Smith.

"They didn't say they wanted any money. They didn't say they were looking for drugs," she said. "They didn't say they were looking for anything."

Up until the time of the shootings, Smith said the day unfolded like any other.

"There was nothing weird about the day," she said.

According to Smith, Phillips and his father had dropped by her house a few hours before the shootings. Phillips and Bonaparte went to a birthday party up the block and the men had returned to Smith's house about 15 minutes before the gunmen showed up. As far as she knew, Smith said, there were no fights or arguments at the birthday party.

Soon after the friends returned, Bonaparte answered the door and immediately raised his hands over his head when one of the intruders pointed a gun at him, Smith said. The other gunman rushed toward Phillips, who was lying on a living room couch and shot him at close range.

Both gunmen ran out of the house and into the street toward Beach Lane as Smith's pit bull, Honey, gave chase. They wore red and black or dark hooded shirts, Smith said. One wore a black or dark bandanna and the other wore a bandanna that Smith said looked like the Haitian flag.

Police are asking anyone with information about the shootings to call Homicide Squad detectives at 631-852-6392 or Crime Stoppers at 800-220-TIPS. All calls will remain confidential.

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