One Shooter Sentenced in Flatbush Funeral Gunfight, Brother Awaits Trial
FLATBUSH – The gunman who killed two people outside a funeral in 2015 has been sentenced to 25 years to life in prison, the District Attorney announced.
Fritz Celestine, 43, of Georgia, was attending the April 27, 2015 funeral of 38-year-old Jose Luis Robles at the Emmanuel Church of God on Flatbush Avenue when he encountered Sharieff Clayton, with whom he had a decades-old dispute originating in the 90s.
Celestine and Clayton got into an argument outside the church around 8:30 pm, according to trial testimony, when Clayton struck Celestine.
There were hundreds of mourners outside the funeral when Fritz Celestine and his brother Pierre, along with a third suspect, pulled guns in response to the punch and began shooting, according to trial testimony. Sharief Clayton and another man, Ronald Murphy, were both shot and killed.
A fourth man returned fire, and amid the hail of bullets, four people were injured—including Fritz Celestine.
Fritz was found bleeding in a nearby SUV shortly after the shooting, but it took some time before police caught up with Pierre and arrested him in Spring Valley. Neither of the other two shooters has been caught by police.
The violence sparked an outcry in the community and led to local leaders and politicians speaking out against gun violence at a vigil the next week.
“It is outrageous that a gunfight erupted as mourners were paying their respects to a lost loved one,” said District Attorney Eric Gonzalez. “Two lives were lost, and several other people were injured after the defendant and others fired upon a group of people attending a funeral. With today’s sentence, the defendant has been held accountable.”
Fritz Celestine was tried and found guilty of two counts of murder and received a sentence of 25 years to life on Wednesday, November 28. His co-defendant and brother, Pierre Celestine, is awaiting trial.
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