Cops arrest one, still seek suspect in Jamaica death

By Courtney Dentch

Officers arrested Derrick Coleman, 27, of 139-06 219th St. in Springfield Gardens and were still looking for his brother, Todd Coleman, as friends and family of 24-year-old Gregory Goff gathered for the man's wake last Thursday, police said.

Goff, an off-duty corrections officer assigned to Rikers Island, was shot in the torso at a Feb. 7 party at the Lebanon Lodge No. 54, a Masonic hall at 107-51 Guy R. Brewer Blvd. He died at Mary Immaculate Hospital about 30 minutes after the 3 a.m. shooting.

Three others, including Derrick Coleman, were wounded as gunfire erupted at the party. The dispute was believed to have been over a woman, police said. Coleman allegedly shot at a man whose girlfriend refused to dance with Coleman, police said.

Goff, of South Jamaica, was hit by one of the 15 bullets that were fired, although he did not appear to be Coleman's initial target, police said.

Officers believe that Coleman dropped the gun and his brother, Todd Coleman, 24, picked up the weapon and allegedly continued shooting into the crowd, police said. Todd Coleman allegedly shot his brother in the buttocks and another woman in the leg, police said.

A fourth victim, a 23-year-old man, was shot in the arm.

Derrick Coleman was charged with murder, attempted murder, assault, reckless endangerment and weapons possession, Queens District Attorney Richard Brown said. He was arraigned last Thursday in State Supreme Court in Kew Gardens before Judge Alex Zigman, who ordered Coleman held without bail, Brown said.

Rewards of up to $12,000 were being offered for information on Todd Coleman, who had not been arrested as of late Tuesday, police said.

Just hours after Derrick Coleman was arrested last Thursday, the Grand Council of Guardians, an association of black law enforcement officials, handed out flyers seeking information on the crime outside the Lebanon Lodge.

“We're here in support of the young corrections officer who was shot here,” said Charles Billups, president of the organization. “It is so important for the community to get involved to stop these heinous crimes. Hopefully, we can get some results and get justice for the family.”

Goff, who had worked for the Corrections Department since June 2002, was mourned at a wake at Crowe's Funeral Home in Jamaica last Thursday. His funeral was held Friday morning at Burns Memorial Church of God and Christ, also in Jamaica.

A volunteer coordinator at the New York Hall of Science where Goff led tours said the guard wanted to bring an astronomy program to young Rikers inmates. He also had ambitions to study forensic science at St. John's University and join the FBI, she said.

Reach reporter Courtney Dentch by e-mail at news@timesledger.com, or by phone at 718-229-0300, Ext. 138.

More from Around New York