Venezuelan Migrant Who Shot Two Cops Indicted on Over 20 Charges

The 19-year-old Venezuelan national, who in early June allegedly shot and injured two NYPD officers, was arraigned on June 26 after a grand jury indicted him on multiple charges, including first-degree attempted murder.

A grand jury indicted Bernado Raul Castro Mata on 20 counts for the June 3 shooting of NYPD Officers Richard Yarusso and Christopher Abreu.

According to a press release from the Queens County District Attorney, Mata allegedly shot the officers after they attempted to pull him over in East Elmhurst for riding a scooter the wrong way on a one-way street.

Mata attempted the flee the scene and opened fire on the officers during the pursuit. The officers returned fire and Mata was also injured.

District Attorney Melinda Katz said in the press release that the officers were shot at point-blank range, with one hit in the abdomen and the other in the leg.

In addition to first-degree attempted murder, Mata is also charged with second-degree attempted murder, first-degree attempted assault, criminal possession of a firearm, resisting arrest, assault, and multiple traffic violations, including reckless driving.

According to court documents, Mata told detectives that he was a member of the Venezuelan gang Tren de Aragua. He claimed that the gang was smuggling weapons into New York City migrant centers using food delivery packages.

Mata also told investigators that it was normal for gang members to shoot police because Venezuelan police often shoot first when they stop members of the gang.

Mata pleaded not guilty to the charges. He claimed that the gun, which he said did not belong to him, accidentally fired during the traffic stop.

During the arraignment hearing, prosecutors read some of the statements Mata made to the police, including admitting that he knew the gun was in the bag he carried. Mata also told police that he ran from the officers because he was scared.

Detectives told the court that Mata had two stolen credit cards on him at the time of his arrest that linked him to other crimes.

Mata is scheduled to appear in court again on September 16.