Laurelton resident Jeffrey Thurston on May 25 pleaded guilty to attempted murder and other crimes for shooting a man outside a deli on Springfield Boulevard in July 2020, according to Queens District Attorney Melinda Katz.
Thurston, 28, of 220th Street, also pleaded guilty to burglary charges for a March 2020 incident involving an estranged girlfriend and her son.
Additionally, Thurston admitted to attempted assault charges for an unrelated incident, also in July 2020.
According to the charges, on July 27, 2020, at around 4:30 p.m., 20-year-old Malachi Capers accidentally bumped into Thurston while inside the 136 Deli & Grill on the corner of Springfield Boulevard and 136th Avenue in Laurelton. Thurston punched Capers, who was a defensive end for the University of Buffalo football team, chased Thurston out of the store and tackled him on the sidewalk.
Video surveillance captured the fight and showed both men wrestling on the ground. After Thurston regained his footing and began to walk away from Capers, he suddenly turned toward him and pulled out a handgun. Thurston is seen firing a single shot that stuck Capers in the abdomen.
Capers, who played football at Flushing High School before SUNY Buffalo, was rushed by EMS to an area hospital in critical condition. Thurston fled the scene and was taken into custody two days later by the NYPD’s Regional Fugitive Task Force.
In a separate incident, Thurston also pleaded guilty to burglary, criminal possession of a weapon and endangering the welfare of a child for breaking into his ex-girlfriend’s home on March 13, 2020. At that time, Thurston pulled out a knife and choked the woman’s 6-year-old son.
Additionally, the Laurelton man pleaded guilty to attempted assault for firing a handgun at a vehicle where people were seated. The shooting, which did not injure anyone, occurred on July 8, 2020, according to Katz.
On May 25, Thurston pleaded guilty to attempted murder, four counts of criminal possession of a weapon, three counts of attempted assault, and endangering the welfare of a child before Queens Supreme Court Justice Ira Margulis.
“The defendant has admitted guilt in a number of criminal incidents, each one more alarming than the next,” Katz said. “From firing a gun at a vehicle to breaking into the home of his estranged ex-girlfriend, to shooting a young man following an incidental brush of shoulders, this defendant has displayed a complete disregard for public safety time and time again. He has now been held accountable and will spend a lengthy time in prison for his actions.”
Justice Margulis indicated that he will sentence Thurston to a determinate term of 18 years in prison, to be followed by five years of post-release supervision. Thurston’s sentencing is scheduled for June 13.