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Queens Chronicle

2 dead, 1 wounded in a Jamaica shooting spree

Alleged killer faces 25 years to life

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Posted: Thursday, December 8, 2011 12:00 pm | Updated: 4:49 pm, Thu Dec 15, 2011.

Gunfire in the middle of the afternoon on Friday left two people dead and one wounded in a spree that started in an apartment and ended on a Jamaica bus, sending frightened commuters fleeing into the streets.

Damel Burton, recently released from prison after serving seven years for armed robbery, reportedly told cops he had “to settle a beef,” when he allegedly shot his girlfriend’s 18-year-old son, Keith Murrell, in the apartment on Foch Boulevard where they lived together.

Sometime between 3:40 and 4:10 p.m. Burton, 34, opened fire on Murrell, striking him once in the chest, according to the complaint filed with the Queens District Attorney’s Office by Det. Isaac Wright of the 103rd Precinct.

Murrel ran to his room, closed the door, and jumped out of his window, landing in the grass below. A nearby witness heard a gun shot and then a loud thump.

That person helped Murrell cross the street, where he collapsed and lost consciousness, the complaint said. He was taken to Jamaica Hospital Medical Center, where he was pronounced dead at 5 p.m.

After Burton left the apartment, he boarded a Q111 bus, and while on it, allegedly shot another man, Marvin Gilkes, 36, in the back of the head, according to the Queens DA. Gilkes was pronounced dead at the scene by emergency medical service personnel.

Burton then allegedly shot a third victim, Jojuan Lipsey, 29. He was taken to Jamaica Hospital, where he underwent surgery for a bullet wound to his mouth and face.

After the shootings, Burton told the bus driver to stop the bus and let him out, according to Wright. The ride ended near the intersection of Parsons Boulevard and Archer Avenue in Jamaica.

A fellow detective from the same precinct told Wright that he observed the butt of a gun sticking out of the right front pocket of Burton’s jacket, according to the complaint.

The 9-mm pistol was loaded with one round of ammunition in the chamber and three rounds in the magazine. Another magazine containing nine rounds was also found on Burton, the complaint said.

Burton allegedly said he shot Gilkes and Lipsey because they were staring at him, according to published reports. Anthony Rattoballi, Burton’s court-appointed attorney, plans to ask that his client undergo psychological and psychiatric exams to determine whether he is fit to stand trial.

The tests would determine whether Burton understands the charges against him and is able to assist in his own defense — not whether he might plead guilty by reason of insanity, which requires a different test, Rattoballi said.

The attorney added that in Burton’s statement to the police, he said he thought the victims of the robbery for which he had served prison time had been following him for quite a while. He also told cops that Murrell had stabbed him in January.

“I don’t believe people were following him and neither does his family,” Rattoballi said, adding, “The family is very distraught and remorseful about what happened to his stepson and the people on the bus.”

Burton is charged with two counts of second-degree murder, one count of second-degree attempted murder, one count of first-degree assault and two counts of second-degree criminal possession of a weapon. He faces up to 25 years to life in prison if convicted.

“These shootings are particularly disturbing for having exploded during an otherwise routine afternoon bus ride filled with shoppers, students and ordinary people returning from work,” District Attorney Richard Brown said in a prepared statement. “Violence such as this will not be tolerated, especially aboard public transportation.”

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