Twenty years ago, when two undercover detectives were executed by a ruthless illegal arms dealer on Staten Island, Candice Negron helped police identify one of the suspects who was trying to flee on the ferry.
Now Negrón, the daughter of a retired detective, is an NYPD sergeant who works at the same station as the officers whose killers she helped catch as a civilian.
“The cycle of life brought me back there,” said Negrón, 43, a sergeant at the Staten Island 120th Precinct.
Detective James Nemorin and his partner, Detective Rodney Andrews, were conducting an undercover operation to buy weapons when a gunman shot them both in the head from behind while sitting in the back of their car on March 10, 2003. .
The shooter, Ronell Wilson, looted their bodies for cash before dumping them in the street.
The next morning, Negrón was on the ferry heading to her retail job in Manhattan when she noticed a man sitting across from her who resembled one of the suspects featured in a newspaper she was carrying.
The man was wearing a dress, high-heeled shoes, red lipstick, and a blonde wig. The disguise did not fool Negrón, who found a police officer and convinced him that he had seen one of the suspects in the shooting.
“I said, ‘He’s down there,’” she recalled. “I tugged on his arm. ‘Either it’s him or he’s the ugliest woman I’ve ever seen.’
Police said Omar Green, the man identified by Negrón, masterminded the arms deal that led to the execution of Andrews and Nemorin.
His capture led to the arrest of gunman Wilson and his accomplice Jessie Jacobus. Prosecutors said Jacobus was sitting in the backseat with Wilson and helped him remove the bodies from the car.
Wilson was sentenced to life in prison after an appeals court overturned his death sentence and federal prosecutors in Brooklyn decided not to try him again.
Jacobus, who cooperated with authorities, was paroled in 2018.
Jacobus testified that he, Green, Wilson, and a fourth suspect, Michael Whiten, met at Green’s Stapleton Houses apartment on the morning of the murders and hatched the plan to stage a fake gun sale and then rob the buyers of $1,300. that they expected to be delivered. carry to pay for a Tec-9 pistol.
Nemorin, who had previously purchased a gun from Green and Whiten, appeared with Andrews.
But instead of making the deal as planned, Wilson shot both police officers in the head from behind, a gruesome execution that shocked and outraged the city.
The murders had a lasting effect on Negrón. Not only had he grown up in the same Staten Island housing complex where the killer lived, but the murdered cops reminded him of his father, retired detective Dwight Cunningham.
“Actually they physically resembled my father,” Negrón said. “She made me sad as a detective’s daughter. Imagine if that had been my father, if he hadn’t come home.
“I felt that these two men were related to me,” Negrón said. “They both remind me of him.”
Although the murders strengthened her determination to become a police officer, they were not what drove her. The seeds of that dream had been planted long before.
“I knew it in high school,” Negrón said. “I wanted to be like my father. I wanted to be a New York City detective.”
And she went. Before being promoted to sergeant a year ago and transferred to the 120th Precinct, Negron worked for a year as a detective, a period she calls “the best time of my career.”
How does it happen
Get updates on the coronavirus pandemic and other news as it happens with our free breaking news email alerts.
“I was working with families of homicide victims, being there for people who were going through such a great loss,” Negrón said. “I learned a lot from the research work. He challenged me professionally to improve.”
Now, Negrón is a youth coordination sergeant who deals with schools and at-risk teens.
Although the anniversary of Friday’s murders will open up old wounds for police officers, detectives say they are still grateful 20 years later for the role Negrón played in helping to catch the killers.
“It was a terrible day for law enforcement,” Detective Manning Association President Paul DiGiacomo said. “She was instrumental in identifying the themes that tied everything together. She is a genuine person. The DEA is very happy to be in our lives. She swore an oath and followed in her father’s footsteps.”
Negrón still takes the ferry from time to time, and often walks through the intersection in Tompkinsville where the bodies of Andrews, 34, and Nemorin, 36, were found.
The streets, St. Paul Avenue and Hannah Street, were renamed in her honor last year.
“I walk down that street a lot,” Negrón said. “I have a strange feeling in my stomach. Even thinking about them lying there makes my stomach hurt.”