NYPD Officer's Killer Captured After 20 Years On The Run
Jacksonville, FL – Police arrested an attempted cop killer who has been on the lam since he tried to kill New York Police Department (NYPD) Officer Vincent Ling in 1999.
Jacksonville police and U.S. Marshals took 43-year-old Lester Pearson into custody without incident at a home on Broad Creek Lane at about 8:45 a.m. on Friday morning, WJXT reported.
“It was early. You hear a bunch of people screaming, 'Get on the ground,'" a nearby neighbor said. "You look outside and there’s U.S. marshals on the street. It was just shocking and pretty scary."
Police discovered Pearson had been living in Florida under the false name of “Michael Davis” for years, according to WJXT.
Officers said the fugitive had become a rapper named “Monsta Kodi,” WJXX reported.
NYPD had initially announced that Pearson was wanted for the murder of off-duty Officer Ling in the Bronx 20 years ago.
Police said Officer Ling was murdered in a dispute that involved Pearson dating the police officer’s sister, WJXT reported.
The officer was seriously wounded and left paralyzed.
Police said Officer Ling eventually died from those injuries when this story was first reported; however, on Monday, NYPD issued a correction that said they had made an error.
Officer Ling was paralyzed in the shooting but is very much alive, the New York Post reported.
The confusion happened when NYPD Commissioner James O’Neill tweeted his thanks to the law enforcement officers who captured Pearson.
"Thanks to ~~@~~JSOPIO & ~~@~~USMarshalsGov for capturing the career criminal who killed off-duty ~~#~~NYPD Officer Vincent Ling in 1999. Law enforcement professionals demonstrate time & again that we are patient & that our collaborative forces have a very long reach," Commissioner O'Neill wrote.
Several states had warrants out on the wanna-be cop killer.
U.S. Marshals said the Louisiana State Police had caught Pearson with 100 pounds of marijuana in 2005, the New York Post reported.
But he attacked one of the officers who was interviewing him and escaped.
Pearson was wanted for battery on a law enforcement officer and trafficking marijuana in Louisiana when he was arrested in Florida.
He was also wanted on a weapons charge in North Carolina, the New York Post reported.
Pearson was being held on a $40,000 bond at the Duval County jail, WJXX reported.
When he was arrested in Jacksonville, Pearson was in possession of a handgun, WJXT.
As a result, he is facing gun charges for possession of a firearm by an out-of-state felon.
Pearson’s next court appearance is March 29 and it is likely he will be extradited to New York, WJXX reported.
Neighbors in the community near Florida State College at Jacksonville North Campus said they had no idea there was anything shady about Pearson when he was living amongst them, according to WJXT.
“He didn’t bother me, and he didn’t do anything. He seemed like he was cool with the kids over there and everybody,” a man who lived nearby Pearson said.
"I don't have any words. I'm, like, 'Wow,'" a neighbor told WJXT. "He was this close to us. That's scary."
Several people said Pearson had been a quiet neighbor who kept to himself.
“That guy was in and out the neighborhood for the last seven or eight months. He never spoke to anyone. He was just in and out," another neighbor told WJXT.
Officials could not say exactly how long Pearson had been living in the quiet neighborhood in northwest Jacksonville, but there was speculation he had been living in the Jacksonville area for some years.
Correction: This story originally reported that Officer Ling had died of his wounds and labeled Pearson a cop killer. NYPD corrected their original statement on Monday afternoon, and we corrected our story to reflect the fact that Officer Ling is still alive.