BY ARIEL HERNANDEZ
Last week, two homicides, each involving adult men sitting in red Honda Accords, took place just three hours and less than six miles apart in Queens.
One week later, it is still unclear if the two murders are connected, and NYPD officials are not being forthcoming about the details as the investigation continues.
On Sunday, Gifford Hunter, 30, a Metropolitan Transportation Authority (MTA) employee, was arrested and charged in connection to the second homicide, which involved the death of a Rikers Island corrections officer, Jonathan Narain, 27.
In their statements, NYPD officials said the motive for the murder was road rage.
They have not made any statements suggesting Hunter was involved in the first murder, which took place on Sept. 13 at approximately 10:23 p.m. That’s when police responded to a 911 call of a person shot in the vicinity of 144–07 249th St. in Rosedale. When they arrived, they found Scott Orville, 42, with a gunshot wound to his head inside a red Honda Accord that had struck a light pole.
Orville was transported to Jamaica Hospital where he was pronounced dead.
Police say the suspect in that shooting fled the scene.
Approximately three hours later, at 1:46 a.m. on Sept. 14, police responded to a 911 call of an unconscious person inside a car at the intersection of 103rd Avenue and 120th Street in South Richmond Hill. When they arrived, they found Narain in a red Honda Accord, unconscious and unresponsive with a gunshot wound to the head.
Narain was also transported to Jamaica Hospital where he was pronounced dead.
The Queens Tribune reached out to police to ask if this is a case of mistaken identity or if there is a connection between the two, but was told that both investigations remain ongoing and that no further information on a connection was available.
Hunter was arraigned in court on Monday, where he was charged with second-degree murder, criminal possession of a weapon and criminal use of a firearm.
At a police briefing, NYPD Deputy Chief Joe Kenny said Hunter, who was on a motorcycle, got into a verbal dispute with Narain at the intersection because Narain had made a U-turn in front of Hunter while on his way to work.
Narain was reportedly armed but had not drawn his service weapon, while Hunter reportedly fired one shot to Narain’s head at close range before fleeing the scene.
Hunter is currently being held without bail and is due back in court on Oct. 10. If convicted, he would face 25 years to life in prison.
About a dozen corrections officers attended the arraignment for their colleague of two years.
“The entire Department of Correction is grieving this morning upon learning of the tragic shooting death of an off-duty corrections officer,” said Department of Correction Commissioner Cynthia Brann. “My deepest sympathy and heartfelt condolences go out to the officer’s family, friends and colleagues throughout the department. We are in close communication with the NYPD.”