Suffolk County police officer accidentally shot and
killed a 20-year-old man during a botched drug raid
Friday night, the police said.
The shooting occurred at 10:40 p.m., the police
said, as officers from the Police Department's
emergency services division prepared to raid a house
in Bellport, N.Y., where they believed drugs were
being sold by armed dealers.
As a group of four officers neared the front door,
the police said, two men opened the door and walked
out. The officer leading the raid, who was carrying a
9-millimeter submachine gun, stopped short. The
officer behind him tripped over a tree root and bumped
into the lead officer, setting off his gun, the police
Three shots were fired from the gun, and one hit
Jose Colon, 20, in the head, said Detective Lt. John
N. Fitzpatrick, commander of the Suffolk County Police
Department's homicide squad. Mr. Colon was pronounced
dead early Saturday morning at a nearby hospital.
At a news conference Saturday, police officials
apologized to Mr. Colon's family. "This was completely
an unintentional act and a tragic mistake," Lieutenant
Fitzpatrick said yesterday. The homicide squad and
internal affairs bureau are investigating and will
report their findings to the Suffolk County district
attorney's office, he added.
Mr. Colon was mourned yesterday at the Victory
Church of God in East Patchogue, where his family
attends services and his uncle is a pastor.
"Everybody was crying in church," said Adrian
Ramdoo, a relative of Mr. Colon's and a member of the
church. "I broke down and cried today myself." Mr.
Colon's grandfather, Charles Seaton, said his grandson
had been studying draftsmanship and photography at
Briarcliffe College on Long Island and was working in
Lieutenant Fitzpatrick said yesterday that just
before the gun went off, officers had asked Mr. Colon
and the other man who stepped outside, identified as
Aaron Hatcher, 20, to drop to the ground. Mr. Hatcher
had complied, the lieutenant said, but Mr. Colon had
not. "He was still moving down the steps toward the
officers," the lieutenant said. "If he's moving toward
them, they're not going to continue to rush him, which
probably led to the lead man stopping."
Mr. Colon did not have weapons or drugs with him,
the lieutenant said.
The police would not identify the officer whose gun
discharged yesterday, but Newsday reported that he is
Tony Gonzalez, a 14-year veteran of the Police
In the raid, the police recovered at least eight
ounces of marijuana and a loaded semiautomatic rifle
from the house, Lieutenant Fitzpatrick said, and
arrested four men on charges of second-degree
marijuana possession. The police said no one lived at
the house. Aside from the men arrested and the drugs
seized, the police found little more inside than a pit
bull and a chair.