ORANGE COUNTY, N.Y. (PIX11) -- He'd been released from prison for 15 minutes when he was shot in an apparent surprise attack Thursday morning. But now, two men suspected of having staged the attempted murder are themselves behind bars. It's the result of an investigation covering a 90 mile route and involving four different police departments. The case is apparently an attempted grudge killing, according to investigators.
"I think that if you're intent on killing somebody, you're going to go out of your way to make it happen," said the chief of police of Mt. Hope, New York, Paul Rickard, Friday morning. "That's what happened here," the chief said at a Friday morning news conference about the shooting that had taken place in the Otisville Village section of Mt. Hope Thursday morning.
Chief Rickard joined other law enforcement officials to try to explain why two men now under arrest allegedly drove 90 miles to Otisville from the Upper West Side of Manhattan to try and kill another man, 15 minutes after the shooting victim had been released from serving a prison sentence for 15 years.
Jerome Mack and Edgar Wilson, both 35, reportedly drove from Manhattan to the state prison in Otisville yesterday morning, where Devon Simmons, 33, was finally walking out of state prison. Simmons had known Wilson from their time in the city growing up together, apparently. Wilson surprised his old acquaintance by pulling up to the Otisville State Prison release gate in a white Hyundai Sonata Thursday at 9:45 A.M. Wilson appeared to be alone, according to investigators. After driving just two thirds of a mile, Wilson pulled over, springing a far bigger surprise on the newly released ex-con, police said.
"They stopped the vehicle," said State Police Captain Pierce Gallagher. "Wilson indicated that he needed to relieve himself, they both got out of the vehicle and at that point, Mack made his entrance."
Mack, who police sources described as a large man, was nonetheless hiding in the trunk, according to investigators. They said he popped out, with a handgun blazing.
"He was shot in the right upper arm and chest area," said Capt. Gallagher, about what happened next to Simmons.
Gallagher said that the men then sped off, and ended up back at a building on West 97th Street on the Upper West Side, where Wilson lives with his mother.
Meanwhile, upstate in Otisville Thursday morning, victim Simmons managed to run, bleeding, 500 yards to the Metro North commuter train depot, and got help. That saved his life, allowing him to tell responding officers who'd shot him.
They contacted state police and NYPD officers in Manhattan, who were able to nab both suspects at Wilson's building, near Columbus Avenue. People there told PIX11 News that police searched the entire building for the two men, and ultimately caught them, around 5:00 P.M. Thursday.
Investigators told PIX11 News that the alleged shooter, Mack, had had some sort of dispute with Simmons, the victim, when the two had been incarcerated together years ago.
Now Mack is incarcerated again, charged with attempted murder and weapons charges, as is his alleged accomplice, Wilson. Neither will get out of jail until they go to trial, since neither was granted bail.
Simmons remains in the hospital, where he'd provided information on Thursday that led to Mack's and Wilson's arrests. Police said that they expect Simmons to make a full recovery.