Rikers Island

Murder Suspect Accidentally Released From Rikers Is Recaught 5 Weeks Later

Christopher Buggs had been in custody for three years awaiting trial for a 2018 Brooklyn murder

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The murder suspect accidentally released from Rikers, where he was awaiting trial, has finally been recaptured more than a month later, officials said Friday.

Christopher Buggs, 26, was apprehended by the Department of Correction's Correction Intelligence Bureau and the U.S. Marshal's Regional Fugitive Task Force, DOC Deputy Commissioner of Public Information Peter Thorne said in a statement.

"We hope that Mr. Buggs' swift return to Rikers Island provides some comfort to the victim's family," Thorne added.

Buggs had been on the lam for about five weeks since being "inadvertently released" due to a clerical error on March 10, police have said. He was caught in the Bronx around noon, according to The New York Post.

Buggs sat in custody for three years at Rikers following his February 2018 second-degree murder arrest in the death of Ernest Brownlee, 55, who was shot in front of a Throop Avenue deli in Bed-Stuy. Court records indicated he was next due for a hearing in June on the murder charges.

At the time of his accidentally release, Department of Correction online inmate records also showed Buggs' status as "Released." He had been held in the Otis Bantum facility.

It appeared Buggs was released on an unrelated contempt of court finding, with Rikers staff not realizing he should still be locked up for his alleged role in the murder case.

"We are aware of this incident and a full investigation into how this happened is underway. Right now we are working with our law enforcement partners to return this‎ individual to custody," Peter Thorne, the department's deputy commissioner of public information, said in a statement at the time.

New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio weighed in on the apparent mistake at the time as well, saying that the city was looking to put "additional safeguards in place to make sure this never happens again. That's very frustrating."

A friend and advocate for Brownlee's widow said his mistaken release was concerning.

"If he's out, ain't no telling where he is at or what is on his mind," said Isaac Mickens. "As of right now, it is more or less like a cat and mouse game. We're just waiting. I am waiting for them to catch the man."

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