CENTRAL ISLIP, N.Y. (CBSNewYork) — A mother is breathing a sigh of heart wrenching relief after a break in her son’s unsolved murder case.

Tafare Berryman, of Brooklyn, was just a few weeks from his college graduation when he was gunned down outside a club. The popular student athlete was mistaken for someone else.

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After more than a decade, his mother came face to face today with the man accused of the crime in court.

In 12 years, Dawn Thompson never gave up on justice — checking with police often to see if they’d cracked her son’s 2005 murder. Today, clutching his picture, she sobbed as heroin addicted reputed gang member Jamie Rivera was arraigned in federal court in Central Islip.

“He take my baby away from me,” she sobbed outside the Suffolk County courthouse. “He did everything right. I raised him right and it’s not fair.”


Her 22-year-old son — set to graduate from C.W. Post College and play basketball overseas — was simply in the wrong place at the wrong time.

“My son was a good boy,” she said. “He just went out one night and just like that his life is gone.”

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Berryman was leaving an Island Park nightclub when a gang brawl broke out injuring his friend. While driving away, they were mistaken for a rival gang. Someone pulled up alongside them and fired the fatal shot.

“It was like nothing to him,” Berryman’s brother Duane Thompson said Monday. “This was my brother’s life.”

As CBS2’s Carolyn Gusoff reports, the cold case was cracked with the help of the FBI, DEA, and Nassau County Police who worked with cooperating former gang members. The 32-year-old Latin Kings member mistakenly thought Berryman had threatened his gang.

“A student was out having a good time, ended up in the middle of a dangerous situation, and was killed for absolutely no reason,” William Sweeney Jr. of the FBI said in a statement.

“I can’t believe he take my son’s life like that and he wants to get bail,” Berryman’s mother said. “He want to be out, 12 years I’ve been waiting for this day. 12 years!”

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The anguished family carried Berryman’s basketball Monday, as it’s all that remains of his promising career. The suspect’s family — a mother and brother who works in law enforcement — left the federal courthouse without comment.