NEW YORK (CBSNewYork) — The man accused of the road rage killing of a 27-year-old correction officer in Queens appeared in court Monday morning.
Gifford Hunter, 30, is a Metropolitan Transportation Authority bus maintenance worker from St. Albans, Queens. He was charged with second-degree murder and two counts of second-degree criminal possession of a weapon. If convicted, he faces 25 years to life in prison.
Hunter was ordered held without bail and will next appear in court on Oct. 10.
Hunter’s attorney Ken Finkelman said he believes the police arrested the wrong person, CBS2’s Jenna DeAngelis reported. Finkelman says Hunter has no criminal record and doesn’t own a gun.
Dozens of Correction officers packed the courtroom for Hunter’s arraignment Monday.
“Innocent is what he’s supposed to say. But we know he’s not innocent. The NYPD knows he’s not innocent,” said Correction Officers’ Benevolent Association President Elias Husamudeen. “Jonathan Narain was a New York City Correction officer who did not deserve to die.”
The officers who packed the courtroom gathered outside, lining the steps and saluting to pay respect to their fallen comrade, who had worked as a Correction officer for more than two years.
“He was 27 years old. A very good man, a very good officer,” Husamudeen said. “In those two years he made a mark. He worked in the largest jail on Rikers Island, and he did a hell of a job.”
Narain’s family had no comment when they left the court, but over the weekend his brother spoke out.
“He told me he was going to see me on Friday. Now, I don’t know what to say no more. I don’t have no words,” brother Heymant Budhram said. “Jon, I love you bro, I’m always going to be there for you.”
Narain will be laid to rest on Thursday.
Police say on Friday, just before 2 a.m., Hunter fatally shot Jonathan Narain in Richmond Hill as a result of road rage. Narain was on his way to work as a correction officer at Rikers Island.
Police said Narain was shot in the head while stopped at a red light in Queens. He was found sitting in a red Honda Accord near 103rd Avenue and 120th Street.
Police said video shows Narain and Hunter, who was on a motorcycle, get into a verbal argument before Hunter opens fire and speeds off.
The MTA did not issue a statement in regards to Sunday’s arrest but did confirm that Hunter has worked with the agency since July of 2017.
Narain had been a correction officer for almost three years. A Change.org petition has been started to get him promoted posthumously to the rank of captain.
“Narain broke me in on the job in QL14/16,” posted Jospeh Travolino on the petition. “He didn’t treat me like a ‘rookie’ or anything like that… and I never forgot it.”