Jamaica Post Office bandit gets 20 years behind bars

Photos by Ellis Kaplan
By Rich Bockmann

A fugitive who opened fire on the federal marshals who tracked him down after he stuck up a downtown Jamaica post office four years earlier was sentenced in Brooklyn federal court Tuesday to more than 20 years behind bars.

Derome Gray, along with his accomplices, walked into the Archer Avenue post office on the morning of June 8, 2007, and held up three Postal Service employees at gunpoint, stealing cash from several lock boxes before forcing the employees into a vault, according to Loretta Lynch, U.S. attorney for the Eastern District of New York.

U.S. postal inspectors were quick to identify and arrest members of the gang, but Gray was able to elude capture and fled to Virginia.

Postal inspectors and the U.S. Marshals Service conducted a manhunt for Gray for four years before he popped up on their radar in October 2011 at a home in Springfield Gardens, where he was taking refuge.

On Oct. 3, the marshals and other members of the Regional Fugitive Task Force went into the two-story home on 144th Terrace and tried to take Gray in around 7:30 a.m., but he was not ready to go quietly.

As the agents went up to the second floor of the home, Gray fired two rounds in their direction, Lynch said, but the shots were deflected.

Court records show the feds ordered Gray to throw his weapon down the stairs and they were able to take him into custody without discharging their weapons.

Inside the home, investigators found several firearms, including a cache of rifles and semi-automatic handguns.

In addition to the post office robbery, the fugitive was also wanted for violating his parole from a 1998 Brooklyn murder conviction.

He pleaded guilty in October to assaulting deputy U.S. marshals with a deadly weapon in addition to robbery and firearms charges.

U.S. District Judge Sandra Townes sentenced Gray, 42, to 241 months in prison Tuesday.

The U.S. attorney said Gray was able to run from the law, but ultimately could not hide.

“With a pistol in his hand, the defendant brazenly invaded a United States Post Office and put the lives of three postal workers in jeopardy,” Lynch said. “Then, for more than four years, he led investigators on a manhunt up and down the Eastern Seaboard. Finally, when confronted by the U.S. marshals, the defendant tried to shoot his way out, again putting the lives of our public servants at risk. He has now been held to account for his crimes.”

Reach reporter Rich Bockmann by e-mail at rbockmann@cnglocal.com or by phone at 718-260-4574.

More from Around New York