Everyday the First District Court in Hempstead is home to cases of all kinds from parking tickets to violent crimes. Arraignments are daily routine. On Friday morning though the daily routine saw a bit of a shake up when a melee broke out.
At 11 a.m. Friday a group of people were arrested for causing mayhem between the walls of the courtroom. Six were arrested for the incident. Of those six, two were injured. Two court officers were also injured during the fight, according to a court spokesperson.
The fight broke out during 20-year-old Pedro Merchant’s arraignment. Merchant, of Valley Stream, is accused of shooting and killing 17-year-old Dante James Quinones-Wright last week. Friends and family of both the victim and accused got into a heated exchange following the arraignment. When their argument broke out into a fight the courthouse was put on lockdown for 15 minutes. The streets around the courthouse were closed off for an hour also.
Police arrested Merchant on Thursday. No motive has been found in the slaying. Investigators say Quinones-Wright was killed on Dartmouth Street in Hempstead last week. He was standing with a group of kids at the time of the shooting. The kids scattered once officers arrived at the scene which forced police to search out witnesses and suspects.
Quinones-Wright was pronounced dead after being rushed to Winthrop University Hospital. Merchant faces second-degree murder charges.