A Hewlett man was arrested Wednesday in connection with a 2011 shooting that left a college student and football hopeful a quadriplegic who died of his injuries almost five years later, authorities said.
Hamilton Croft, 38, is expected to be arraigned Thursday on a charge of second-degree murder in the death of Daniel Flowers, 24, of Freeport, Nassau police said.
“I do have a friend in Jesus,” said his aunt, Gerry Flowers of Freeport, who raised Daniel and his brother Aaron since they were boys.
Flowers and about 10 friends were out July 3 in Hempstead Village, near a Main Street strip joint called the Seducción Bar, when someone started shooting, police said.
Flowers said her nephew’s friends told her the gunman was drunk and had come out of the bar and when nearby residents came out after the gunfire, they shouted the shooter’s street name.
One second, Daniel Flowers had dreams of going into college football and the next he was lying on the sidewalk, a bullet fragment in his neck, never to get up again.
Flowers, a church choir singer and a “born” athlete whose basketball, baseball and football awards decked the walls of his room, never returned home.
He died Jan. 2 of last year, having spent his remaining days at the A. Holly Patterson nursing facility in Uniondale. It was where he started talking again, where he moved a hand and felt sensation in his feet, one year after the shooting, with his friends and relatives trying to buoy his spirits all the while, his family said.
Gerry Flowers said she and her family had waited for years for justice, imagining their loved one’s killer walking the streets in freedom and smiling.
Now, she hopes he’ll be locked up for years.
“He’s going to think about the damage he did to Daniel and the damage he did to my entire family,” the aunt said.
Croft’s arrest comes two months after Nassau police asked for the public’s help in nabbing the gunman.
When a homicide detective called her Wednesday to say “We have him,” Flowers recounted, he asked if she was all right because she had a long “praise moment” shouting “Thank you, Jesus” repeatedly.
Her nephew’s friends who were at the shooting still visit her, having kept in their hearts a man they supported as he was despondent, then accepting of his fate, Flowers said.
Daniel Flowers was buried on what would have been his 25th birthday. Said his aunt, “He’s a kid who would give you the shirt off his back.”