New York

Gang Member Arrested in 2005 Slaying of College Basketball Player

The case was once featured on the TV show "America's Most Wanted"

An alleged gang member has been arrested on murder- and firearms-related charges in the 2005 shooting death of a promising college basketball player from Brooklyn, prosecutors announced Monday. 

Jaime Rivera, who prosecutors say is a member of the Almighty Latin King and Queen Nation street gang, was charged in a two-count indictment with killing Tafare Berryman as the then 23-year-old ball player at C.W. Post tried to take a friend to a hospital after a fight at a Long Island nightclub April 3, 2005. Berryman was two weeks from graduating college. 

Berryman's mother wept in court Monday as Rivera was officially charged.

"Twelve years, I've waited for this day. Twelve years," Dawn Thompson told reporters outside court. "A lot of pain, a lot of cry, a lot of anger, a lot of tears. It destroyed my whole family."

Duane Thompson, who was just 13 when his brother was killed, said, "I never thought I would see this day in my life." 

He said Rivera appeared to have no remorse in court. 

"I can never understand how someone could take someone's life and just be so emotionless," he said. "He seemed so emotionless and it just made me so sad." 

The arrest of 32-year-old Rivera, whose mother is a retired NYPD officer and whose brother is a Freeport police officer, brings closure to a case that was once featured on "America's Most Wanted."

No one from Rivera's family would comment after he was arraigned. 

Prosecutors said the alleged gunman mistakenly thought Berryman had been part of a brawl outside the club involving gang members.

Since Berryman's death, his mother has kept a shrine to her son in the family's Brooklyn home, including trophies and other symbols of what might have been. Duane Thompson brought to court a basketball signed by Berryman's C.W. Post teammates after the murder. 

"Most of the things I did was inspired by him," said Thompson. 

U.S. Attorney for the Eastern District of New York Robert Capers said in a statement that gang violence has claimed too many promising young lives. 

“This case should serve as a message to all gang members, if you engage in violent gang activity, our law enforcement partners will not stop pursuing you until you are held accountable for your actions,” Capers said. 

"The mentality that an innocent person is some sort of threat to a gang member or a gang defies logic," added FBI Assistant Director-in-Charge William Sweeney. "A student who was out having a good time, ended up in the middle of a dangerous situation and was killed for absolutely no reason. No one deserves to die because they found themselves in the wrong place at the wrong time. 

The FBI joined the investigation when the case went cold, and helped arrest Rivera. 

Rivera has been ordered held without bail and could face the death penalty if convicted.

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