Brooklyn man gets 23 years to life in prison for fatal shooting at Springfield Gardens house party in 2020: DA

A Brooklyn man was sentenced to 23 years to life in prison for the murder of a Bronx man during a Springfield Gardens house party in 2020.
Photo courtesy of the DA’s office

A Brooklyn man was sentenced in Queens Supreme Court to 23 years to life in prison for the shooting death of a Bronx man at a crowded Springfield Gardens house party in August 2020.

Devante Richards, 30, of Montgomery Street in Flatbush, was convicted of murder by a jury last month for gunning down 25-year-old Jonathan Distant after he bumped into one of Richards’ friends at the party and a stare down ensued. Richards then opened fire with more than 100 people present at the gathering.

According to the charges and trial testimony, at approximately 2:15 a.m. on Aug. 9, 2020, Richards and a group of friends arrived at a large house party already underway for several hours in the front yard of a residence at 146-56 183rd St. in Springfield Gardens. More than a hundred party goers were in the yard, despite the early hours, and security guards manned a line of more than 50 more waiting to get into the house party.

Richards and his crew entered and joined their friends from Brooklyn.

At around 4:30 a.m., as Distant prepared to leave the party, one of Richards’ friends bumped into him. As the two stared at one another, Distant’s girlfriend tried to get the two men to walk away from each other but failed.

Richards then walked toward Distant and fired at him, hitting him in the left side of the abdomen. When Richards started shooting, the approximately 150 party guests began running toward the lone exit and climbed fences into neighboring yards. Additional gunshots sounded from at least two other firearms. No additional injuries resulted from the additional gunfire.

Distant was transported by private means to Jamaica Hospital Medical Center where he was pronounced dead from his injuries.

“This was an absolutely senseless loss of a young life,” Queens District Attorney Melinda Katz said. “It is a tragedy that strengthens our resolve to rid our streets of illegal firearms and to do all we can to end the plague of gun violence that time and time again has taken family, friends, and loved ones from our communities.”

The jury also convicted Richards on two counts of criminal possession of a weapon. Queens Supreme Court Justice Kenneth Holder sentenced Richards to 23 years to life in prison on the murder charge and 15 years in prison on each of the weapons charges, to be served concurrently.