NYC Brooklyn bust kills Ethan Williams no joy for Indiana parents

When the call came while driving a car on Thursday afternoon, Jason Williams – whose son, a college student from Indiana, was shot in Brooklyn in 2020 – I thought something was wrong.

“You might want to stop,” the Brooklyn district attorney said on the other end of the line.

Then came the news. Williams said the prosecutor told her, “We’ve arrested a man for the murder of your son. He gave us a full statement.

It was news Williams had been praying for for nearly two years.

Ethan Williams, 20, was hit by a stray bullet on Oct. 24, 2020, while sitting on the front porch of his Airbnb in Brooklyn with pals from Indiana after a day of skateboarding and sightseeing.

His highly publicized death led to the creation of a joint task force of the NYPD and the Brooklyn District Attorney’s Office. On Thursday, 740 days after the murder, that work led to the arrest of 26-year-old William Freeman.

“I immediately called my wife and my son, who is now a pre-med biology student at North Park University,” said Williams, an educator in Indianapolis.

“My wife started crying. My son was silent. He didn’t want to know her name. We just stayed on the phone together for a few minutes.

Detectives had concluded during the lengthy investigation that the shooter mistook Ethan and his friends for members of a rival gang and opened fire near Eldert St. and Bushwick Ave. in Bushwick.

A bullet struck Williams in the chest. He could not be saved.

“We prayed every day not for revenge, but for whoever killed my son to begin to understand and to put it on his conscience and to admit that what he did was wrong,” he said. Williams. “I don’t know if that’s what happened here. But I don’t see any other reason why he would talk.

Father Jason Williams, mother Susan Williams, sister Ella, brother Aidan.

Just days ago, on October 24, the second anniversary of Ethan’s death, his family and friends gathered at the cemetery where he is buried to remember him.

Police say Freeman has long been a person of interest in the case, but they don’t have enough evidence to charge him.

Video evidence of the scene was hazy and witnesses were hard to find. Investigators were, however, able to use facial recognition software to identify Freeman. Additionally, an Uber driver who drove Freeman off the scene recognized him from a series of photos, authorities said.

After Freeman missed a court date for a petty theft charge on Jan. 3, a warrant was issued for his arrest. He was arrested by cops from the NYPD Public Safety Team.

During questioning by detectives on Thursday, he became involved in the murder of Ethan, law enforcement sources said. Freeman’s DNA was linked to the weapon believed to have been used in the murder, a law enforcement source said.

Police are investigating the scene of the shooting of Ethan Williams on Eldert Street in Brooklyn on October 24, 2020.

During arraignment in Brooklyn Criminal Court on Friday, a prosecutor said Freeman identified a photo of the gun used in the shooting and a photo of the site from which he fired.

Law enforcement sources said the murder was retaliation for the gang-related killing of Freeman’s cousin, Elijah Mims, who was beaten down On August 30, 2020, while sitting inside a Mercedes-Benz outside a block party on Madison St. in Bushwick.

A gang called TBO was allegedly involved in Mims’ murder. Freeman is a member of TBO rival the Cash Money Brothers, cops said.

Freeman faces murder and weapons charges. Judge Leigh Cheng set his bail at $350,000 cash and $600,000 bail over the objection of Brooklyn assistant DA Jordan Rodman, who wanted Freeman jailed without bail.

Freeman, dressed in a black hooded tracksuit, briefly turned to his family members in the courtroom gallery.

“He’s my son,” Freeman’s father said after the hearing. “I love it. That’s it.” He declined to give his name.

Williams said Freeman’s arrest didn’t fill him with joy, but rather a sense of relief.

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“It’s not an emotion I’ve felt before. Happy is not the word,” he said. “It’s a relief to know that a killer is off the street, and it’s certainly better than the alternative. I have peace of mind knowing he’s not on the street .

“Detectives and prosecutors did the job, and I continued to plead. I would say to all the other victim families out there, you need to keep staying there and getting involved. »

Ethan Williams was pronounced dead at Wyckoff Medical Center after being found with a gunshot wound to the chest outside 42 Eldert St. in Brooklyn on Saturday, October 24, 2020.

Williams credited law enforcement but also the Daily News and other outlets for keeping the story out of the public eye.

“I’m so grateful to the people of New York and their work, and I hope a jury does their job and this guy pays for his crimes.”

In a statement, Brooklyn District Attorney Eric Gonzalez said, “An innocent student was killed while visiting our city, and my office is committed to holding his alleged killer accountable for this act of violence. horrible. Our thoughts are always with Ethan’s family and friends.

The young man had a range of interests, including skateboarding and cinema. He was studying film at Indiana University.

There is a skatepark named in his honor in his hometown of Indianapolis partially funded by Tony Hawk, and a library is being built at a school in Rwanda that his family has been active with.

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