A Bronx man has pleaded guilty to manslaughter in the 2014 shooting death of a college student at a Garden City lounge after the suspect opened fire into a crowd, according to prosecutors.
Lij Tyshaun Phillips, 23, pleaded guilty to manslaughter and assault charges Monday, just before jury selection in his murder trial was supposed to start.
Authorities said the March 16, 2014, early morning shooting at Mint — following a fight among patrons inside — killed Emmanuel Barnett, 21, of Cambria Heights. He had been studying electrical engineering at Queensborough Community College and suffered a gunshot to the head.
Authorities said another victim, a 23-year-old man, was shot in the leg and survived.
Nassau District Attorney Madeline Singas on Tuesday called Barnett “a promising young man” and “innocent college student,” saying in a prepared statement that his family “will be forever changed” because Phillips “indiscriminately shot into a crowded lounge.”
The prosecutor said she hoped the plea would console Barnett’s grieving relatives.
Police testimony at a court hearing earlier this year showed two witnesses who said they were at Mint when gunfire erupted had identified Phillips as the shooter.
A detective also testified police had surveillance video from the scene and some people who were present wore hooded sweatshirts with a symbol and lettering they linked to a Queens-based group called Snow Gang Music.
A witness also showed police photos from that night of people with the same garb throwing up “hand signs,” according to police testimony.
There is a street gang active in New York City known as the Snow gang.
Attorney Jeffrey Groder, who represented Phillips after his murder indictment, said Tuesday his client had taken responsibility by pleading guilty.
“He felt that the plea was in his best interest based upon the possible punishment he was facing,” the Mineola attorney said, declining to comment when asked if his client had admitted to any gang ties.
Groder said State Supreme Court Justice William Donnino committed to giving Phillips a 23-year prison term at his July 29 sentencing.
The defendant had faced up to 25 years to life on the murder charge, and could have received another 25-year sentence if convicted of shooting the surviving victim, according to the defense attorney.
Police had said in the immediate aftermath of Barnett’s slaying that an unknown subject had fired bullets into a crowd after a fight in Mint — located across from Roosevelt Field mall — and then fled the area.
Barnett’s family said after Phillips’ arrest that their loved one hadn’t known his accused killer and they were doing their best to cope with a loss they didn’t understand.
Police arrested Phillips at a Bronx drug program while he was serving probation in a drug case, his arraignment lawyer said at the time.