The suspect detained Tuesday was seen on a video wearing a jacket with the letters FDNY printed on the back while shooting and executing another man execution-style at a New York City smoke shop.
According to police, the same individual murdered a 19-year-old just 30 hours before and was on bail for allegedly opening fire on officers two years ago.
Messiah Nantwi, 21, was arrested and accused in the death of 36-year-old Brandon Brunson in a Harlem smoke shop on Sunday, as well as the slaying of 19-year-old Jaylen Duncan, who was fatally shot in the head near Madison Avenue and East 132nd Street on Saturday afternoon.
According to Yahoo reports, Nantwi was out on bail for the attempted murder of a police officer after allegedly firing at cops during a graffiti stop in the Bronx in February 2021.
Three uniformed cops returned fire, pelting Nantwi, aged 18, with bullets. He was freed in mid-2021 after paying $30,000 of the $300,000 bail issued by a Bronx Supreme Court judge, according to the New York Daily News.
To appease prosecutors, the court allegedly reduced bail from the initial $500,000 amount. That case is still open. According to NYPD Chief of Detectives James Essig, Nantwi, a member of the local OTN Goodfellas gang, was caught while riding a Citi Bike on Lenox Avenue on Tuesday, and the 9mm murder weapon was found nearby.
The NYPD had previously provided stills from surveillance video of the suspect, who was still wanted for the murder as of Monday.
The incident occurred shortly before 8 p.m. Sunday inside a tobacco store at 304 Lenox Ave. in East Harlem, Manhattan. According to police, the suspect shot a 36-year-old man in the head, killing him. Local media got graphic security footage of the establishment, which showed at least eight guys and a cashier behind the counter.
The victim is seen interacting with the cashier while wearing a tan jacket with a red hoodie underneath. He also seems to have a conversation with the suspect, who is dressed in a black jacket with FDNY initials in an American flag design on the back. As the victim turns to walk away, the suspect takes a revolver and shoots at him at close range.
Other shoppers rush outside, as one jumps the counter to take cover. The suspect then takes a position over the victim’s body, which is spread out on the ground. When the suspect notices that the man is still moving, he puts the gun towards his head and shoots. The victim is subsequently made lifeless and face down, and the suspect calmly starts to exit the store.
Before the video cuts out, the culprit returns to examine the victim’s pockets.
Since New York authorized the sale of marijuana, smoke shops have been a rising source of concern for citizens and politicians alike, according to the N.Y. Daily News. In February, New York City Mayor Eric Adams and Manhattan District Attorney Alvin Bragg threatened to remove shops selling marijuana without the required permits.
According to NYPD Chief of Patrol John Chell, robberies targeting stores selling marijuana paraphernalia and, in many cases, uncontrolled cannabis have increased by 10% this year compared to 2022. Investigators did not immediately uncover the motivations for the deadly killings allegedly carried out by Nantwi on Saturday and Sunday.