Valley Stream man arraigned in Hempstead murder; courthouse riot ensues

Pedro Merchant, 20, charged with second-degree murder


A North Valley Stream man has been charged in the killing of a Hempstead teen that occurred two weeks ago. During the suspect’s arraignment last Friday, a scuffle broke out at First District Court, resulting in six additional arrests.

Nassau County police arrested 20-year-old Pedro Merchant at his home on Ascan Street without incident at 1:30 p.m. on Sept. 19. Merchant is accused of shooting 17-year-old Dante Quinones-Wright multiple times in front of a home on Dartmouth Street in Hempstead on Sept. 11.

On the night of the shooting, police said, officers found Quinones-Wright lying in the street shortly before 10 p.m., having sustained three gunshot wounds in the chest, stomach and groin. He was taken to Winthrop Hospital, where doctors operated on him for about a half-hour. He was pronounced dead at 11 p.m.

Merchant was arraigned on Sept. 20, and charged with second-degree murder. He was ordered held without bail by Judge Eric Bjorneby.

Near the end of his arraignment, a fight broke out in a courthouse corridor after heated comments were exchanged. When the confrontation escalated to pushing and shoving, police intervened and arrested six men. Four people were injured, including two officers. One officer was taken to Winthrop University Hospital, and one of the men involved in the fight was taken to Nassau University Medical Center.

“The court officers were extraordinarily professional and effective,” said court spokesman Dan Bagnuola. “It could have been a much, much worse situation and the officers acted very, very quickly.”

Hempstead Village police, Nassau County police and the Nassau County Sheriff’s Department also responded. After the fight, the court was shut down for 15 minutes, and then Merchant’s arraignment, before Judge Sharon Gianelli, resumed.

The six men arrested in the courthouse altercation — Abdul Rahim Robinson, 22, of West Hempstead; Aaron Munlin, 20, and Jerry Merchant, 50, of Hempstead; Terry Green, 28, of Elmont; Shapeace Goodwine, 22, of Roosevelt; and Louis Merchant, 51, of Philadelphia — were arraigned on Sept. 21, and charged with first-and second-degree rioting and second-degree criminal contempt. They were due back in court on Tuesday, after the Herald went to press.

Neither Quinones-Wright’s nor Merchant’s family could be reached for comment.