One of two men facing charges after a shootout at a July Fourth block party turned deadly in Roosevelt pleaded not guilty to a murder indictment Monday.
Prosecutors have alleged Michael Wright, 34, of Roosevelt, opened fire with a .9 mm gun before bullets from the weapon hit three partygoers — killing 27-year-old Tavon Greenhill of Hempstead and wounding two other people — after another defendant first began shooting at Wright as they argued.
The other defendant, Lawrence Sims, 29, also of Roosevelt, drew a .9 mm gun and fired multiple gunshots in Wright's direction that didn't hit anyone, according to the Nassau district attorney's office.
Law enforcement officials said the gunfire erupted at about 7:30 p.m. during the holiday celebration on Hudson Avenue that about 75 to 100 people attended and that featured children's "bouncy houses," a disc jockey and street vendors.
Wright's lawyer, Michael DerGarabedian, said after his client's arraignment on charges of second-degree murder, attempted murder, assault and criminal possession of a weapon that prosecutors haven't turned over their evidence to him yet, but a defense investigation showed Wright wasn't one of the shooters. Wright is jailed without bail, according to the Rockville Centre attorney.
Prosecutors said Sims was arraigned earlier this month after his indictment on charges of second-degree attempted murder, criminal use of a firearm and criminal possession of a weapon. Sims' attorney, Robert Schalk, said Monday that his client is out on bail, "maintains his innocence" and "looks forward to his day in court."
Acting Nassau District Attorney Joyce Smith said in a statement Monday that the two defendants "fired indiscriminately at one another" during their argument, making other partygoers scream and run away.
Greenhill died at the scene after gunfire hit the back of his head, according to authorities. They have identified the other wounded partygoers as a 21-year-old man from Hempstead and a 31-year-old Uniondale woman.
Police said Wright has two prior convictions for possessing a loaded weapon and was on parole at the time of the shooting — violence they believe grew out of a dispute that first began two weeks earlier.