Man who served 17 years in Riverhead killing, busted on drug charges

02/24/2013 5:44 PM |

NEWS-REVIEW FILE PHOTO | A police car at the scene of the May 30, 1993 shooting incident that led to the death of Alvin McElroy Jr.

Nearly 20 years after the shooting incident that led to the death of a Persian Gulf veteran, one of two men convicted in his killing could be headed back to prison.

David Brown, 37, of Flanders was arrested on drug charges Saturday night following a traffic stop on East Main Street, Riverhead Town Police said. The bust comes less than six months after he was paroled on Sept. 14, following 17 years in prison for killing Alvin Charles McElroy Jr., state parole records show.

Alvin Charles McElroy Jr.

Mr. Brown had been living in Riverhead before he was convicted of manslaughter in connection with Mr. McElroy’s death in May 1995 and sentenced to a minimum of nine years in prison. He was later convicted of attempted promotion of prison contraband and was not released until last September, state records show. His release came nine years after he was first elegible for parole, but 11 years before his maximum sentence of 28 years was to expire.

Mr. Brown’s cousin, Edward Jackson of Flanders, who was 19 years old at the time of the shooting, was also convicted of manslaughter in connection with Mr. McElroy’s death and was released from prison in 2010 after serving 15 years, state parole records show.

The shooting incident occurred after a group of as many as 10 young men, including Mr. Brown and Mr. Jackson, confronted Mr. McElroy on Phillips Street near Route 25 about 8 p.m. on Sunday, May 30, 1993, according to previously published reports in the News-Review and Newsday. Several shots were fired and Mr. McElroy was struck four times in the head and legs. It was the third shooting reported in Riverhead that day, after two other incidents occurred earlier that morning.

Mr. McElroy, a 22-year-old father of three, spent the last eight months of his life in a coma before dying at Hilltop Manor Rehabilitation Center in Niskanyuna, N.Y. on Feb. 1, 1994, according to a story published in the News-Review at the time of his death. He was the son of Rev. A. Charles McElroy Sr. of Friendship Baptist Church in Riverhead, who presided over his funeral.

The death of a preacher’s son sent shockwaves through Riverhead Town, Newsday reported at the time.

Rev. McElroy said during the funeral that his son had brushes with the law and had disputes with the alleged gunmen in the weeks leading up to the shooting, according to a Newsday report.

GRANT PARPAN PHOTO | Alvin McElroy Jr.’s grave at Calverton National Cemetery. One of the men convicted in his killing was arrested again Sunday on drug charges.

“He was offered everything, a good home, a good environment and education,” Rev. McElroy said of his son. “Raising a child today is a high risk. He encountered the demonic forces of his time.”

Mr. Brown was a suspect in the shooting soon after police began their investigation, but he was not located until he attempted to run from the scene of a traffic stop in September 1993. After a foot pursuit, Mr. Brown, who was wanted on a warrant issued by Suffolk County Police, was detained by Riverhead police officer James Wooten, according to a story published in the News-Review at the time of his arrest.

Mr. Wooten, now a town councilman, said that after he saw Mr. Brown, who was 18 at the time of his arrest, run up Fifth Street, he knew exactly where he was headed.

“I took off running to St. John’s [Church] and he ran right into my arms,” Mr. Wooten recalled in an interview Sunday.

“The guy did 17 years as a young man and he had a chance to turn his life around. It’s crazy,” he said. ”I’m glad he’s off the street though. He spent most of his adult life in jail and he didn’t learn a thing from the sound of it.”

Mr. Brown was charged with three counts of criminal possession of a controlled substance, criminal possession of drug paraphernalia and criminal possession of marijuana, police said following his 2 a.m. arrest Sunday. Also charged in the incident was 25-year-old Michael Bambrick of Riverhead.

The two men were in possession of more than four ounces of cocaine, more than eight ounces of marijuana, 10 packets of PCP and a digital scale, according to a report on riverheadlocal.com, which covered the arraignment Sunday morning.

gparpan@timesreview.com