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LI Man Sentenced to 25 Years in Prison for Shooting

RIVERHEAD, NY — A former “violent offender” from Riverhead has been sentenced to 25 years to life in prison for his involvement in an incident that occurred while he was on parole from a previous prison sentence, as announced by Suffolk County District Attorney Ray Tierney.

Messiah Booker, also known as Matthew Booker, aged 38, was given the 25-year-to-life prison term after a jury found him guilty of participating in the shooting, according to Tierney.

Evidence presented during the trial indicated that on May 20, 2022, Booker was engaged in a verbal dispute with a teenager in the parking lot of a downtown Riverhead apartment complex. The situation escalated when Booker threatened the teenager with a gun he retrieved from a fanny pack in his black Jeep Compass. This action prompted the teenager to flee for safety, Tierney reported.

Following this, the teenager’s family arrived at the complex around 3:50 p.m., leading to a confrontation with Booker in front of the building, attracting a large crowd. Booker retrieved the same loaded firearm from his Jeep and fired at someone in the crowd. The bullet ricocheted off the ground, striking another individual in the forearm before Booker fled on foot, Tierney explained.

Officers from the Riverhead Town Police Department responded to the scene, where they found a 9mm shell casing and impounded Booker’s Jeep Compass for a search authorized by a warrant. The search uncovered drugs such as cocaine and morphine, over $1,000 in small bills, multiple cell phones, walkie-talkies, a tactical vest, 9mm ammunition, a digital scale commonly used for weighing narcotics, and drug packaging materials like glassine envelopes, Tierney detailed.

Booker was apprehended with the assistance of the United States Marshals Service and subsequently arrested. A jury trial overseen by Acting Supreme Court Justice Anthony S. Senft, Jr. resulted in Booker’s conviction on various charges, including criminal possession of a weapon, criminal possession of a controlled substance with intent to sell, criminal possession, criminally using drug paraphernalia, and menacing, among others, Tierney noted.

Before this incident, Booker had five prior felony convictions, two of which were for violent offenses. He was previously convicted in 2017 of second-degree attempted burglary, a Class D violent felony, related to an incident that led to the death of Demiti Hampton, 21. Booker was on parole for this conviction at the time of the recent offense, Tierney stated.

Justice Senft imposed a 25-year-to-life prison sentence on Booker, who was represented by Ian Fitzgerald. Tierney stressed the importance of holding individuals responsible for violent acts, emphasizing that such conduct will not be accepted in Suffolk County.