Suspects In Flanders Shooting Remain Behind Bars


The two men charged in last week’s shooting in Flanders, which left a Flanders man in critical condition with multiple gunshot wounds, are still being held at the Suffolk County Jail as of Wednesday morning, and both are expected to be indicted by a grand jury before the end of the week.

The two suspects—Kwame Opoku. 33, of Mastic Beach, and Emmanuel Coleman, 34, of Riverhead—were remanded to the Riverside jail without bail after being arraigned last Thursday morning, October 16, on multiple felony counts in Southampton Town Justice Court. Both men entered not guilty pleas.

Mr. Opoku and Mr. Coleman were arrested by Southampton Town Police at around 3 p.m. last Wednesday, October 15, minutes after multiple shots were fired on McKinley Street in Flanders. The sole victim—identified by police as a 36-year-old man who lives in the house—suffered multiple gunshot wounds while standing in front of his home. He was airlifted by Suffolk County Police Medevac helicopter to Stony Brook University Hospital, where he immediately underwent emergency surgery.

The victim, who is not being identified by authorities, was still listed in critical condition as of last Thursday. Police could not offer an update on his condition this week, and hospital officials said Wednesday morning that they could not provide any additional information regarding his condition.

Southampton Town Detective Sergeant Lisa Costa revealed this week that both Mr. Opoku, the alleged gunman, and Mr. Coleman knew the victim, but would not say how. She also said she would not classify the shooting as a drive-by, though she would not estimate how long Mr. Opoku and Mr. Coleman were outside the home before their argument with the victim turned violent.

The two suspects were found in a white Chrysler sedan about 10 minutes after the shooting, near the intersection of Spinney and Flanders roads in Flanders, according to Sgt. Costa. They surrendered without incident.

Mr. Opoku was charged with first-degree assault, second-degree criminal possession of a weapon, second-degree criminal use of a firearm and first-degree reckless endangerment, all felonies. While wearing a white jumpsuit with his hands shackled to a leather belt, he entered a not guilty plea before Town Justice Barbara Wilson last Thursday morning.

Mr. Opoku, who revealed during his arraignment that he is an unemployed father, is being represented by Eileen Powers, an attorney with offices in Riverhead. She did not return calls seeking comment this week about her client.

Due to the severity of the crime, Mr. Opoku’s case has been transferred to the Suffolk County Criminal Court in Riverhead, and an indictment is expected to be handed down from a grand jury later this week.

In February 2013, Mr. Opoku sued Southampton Town and its police department, alleging that members of the law agency’s now-defunct Street Crimes Unit conducted warrantless searches, fabricated evidence and provided false testimony that led to his arrest in January 2011 on drug-possession charges at his then-home in Noyac.

Mr. Opoku had served seven months in jail before his conviction—along with those of six others—were overturned at the request of Suffolk County District Attorney Thomas Spota. Those cases were overturned after an investigation revealed that Eric Sickles, a member of the Street Crimes Unit, had been addicted to prescription drugs at the time of Mr. Opoku’s arrest.

Meanwhile, Mr. Coleman, who was also wearing a white jumpsuit, entered a not guilty plea last Thursday, and was charged with first-degree assault, a felony, and violating his parole. Mr. Coleman, who is being represented by a public defender, was arrested in 2012 in Queens and charged with second-degree assault, a felony, according to state parole records. It is not known if Mr. Coleman served any jail time in relation to that case, or what that assault involved.

Mr. Coleman, who also told the court that he was a father, stated that he has been working for a temp agency in Islandia. His attorney, Michael Dipresso, waived his client’s right to a speedy trial during a follow-up conference in town court on Tuesday morning. Mr. Dipresso was scheduled to return to court on Wednesday.

After accepting the not guilty pleas of the defendants last Thursday, Justice Wilson granted orders of protection that were requested by the victim, who was not identified in court, and several unnamed witnesses. Justice Wilson did not read their names into the record after noting that the list included several minors. One minor on the list was related to Mr. Opoku, according to prosecutors.

The mother, brother and a cousin of the shooting victim attended last Thursday’s court appearance, though all three declined to give their names or discuss the shooting.

A neighbor, who was home at the time of the shooting, said she looked out her window after hearing multiple gunshots. The woman, who did not want to be identified, said she saw a group of people—either family or friends of the victim—huddled around the victim who was lying on the ground in front of his home.

“I saw them standing over the guy,” she said. “There were kids outside, too.”

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