Laurelton resident Jeffrey Thurston, 28, was sentenced to nearly two decades in prison for shooting a former student-athlete outside a deli on Springfield Boulevard in 2020, Queens District Attorney Melinda Katz announced Tuesday.
Thurston, of 220th Street, was also sentenced for a burglary related to a March 2020 incident involving an estranged girlfriend and her son, as well as an attempted assault for an unrelated shooting in July 2020.
Thurston pleaded guilty on May 25 to attempted murder, assault, four counts of criminal possession of a weapon, burglary and other charges including endangering the welfare of a child before Queens Supreme Court Justice Ira Margulis.
According to the charges, on July 27, 2020, at around 4:30 p.m., 20-year-old Malachi Capers and Thurston accidentally bumped into each other 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. Capers then 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 addition, Katz said that in two separate incidents, Thurston broke into his ex-girlfriend’s home on March 13, 2020, at which time he pulled out a knife and choked the woman’s 6-year-old son. On July 8, 2020, Thurston fired a gun at a vehicle with passengers inside. No one was injured during that shooting.
“The defendant has now been held accountable for displaying a blatant disregard for public safety on three separate occasions,” Katz said. “Within a span of a few months, he fired a gun at a vehicle, broke into the home of his ex-girlfriend and shot a young man following a brush of shoulders. The defendant has been sentenced by the court and will spend a lengthy time in prison as punishment for his callous actions.”
Justice Margulis sentenced Thurston to 18 years in prison, to be followed by five years’ post-release supervision.