Relatives of a 1993 Brooklyn shooting victim are a step closer to justice now that his recent pneumonia death has been reclassified a homicide caused by the bullets that paralyzed him.
But in a heartbreaking twist, the family members say they’re still too scared to press charges.
Francis Colombo was hit multiple times during an East New York shooting in May 1993 and ended up trapped in a wheelchair for two decades until he died last year at age 45, sources told the Daily News.
Prosecutors in the Brooklyn District Attorney and Manhattan U.S. Attorney offices have identified the shooter as 50-year-old Fernando Vinas and are pursuing leads to possibly file, the sources said.
Vinas was arrested in a federal conspiracy case after the shooting, served 20 years and was later deported back to the Dominican Republic.
In an exclusive interview Tuesday, Colombo’s sister said that when police called after her brother’s death to ask about pressing charges, her parents weren’t interested.
“They didn’t want them to pursue it. He’s gone. If they catch the guy again, and they charge him, we don’t know what his family is capable of,” the sister said.
“He’s with God. They don’t need that. They’re old already,” she said. “It’s over and done with. That’s the way I see. He suffered a lot in that wheelchair. He was ready to leave.”
She said her brother wasn’t the intended target when he was hit near Elton St. and Liberty Ave., just a block from where family used to live.
“They were looking for another guy, one of his friends, and he got caught in the middle. One of the guys who saw it said there was a girl walking by and he pushed her out of the way and that’s why he got shot,” she said. “It was drug related … He got caught in the middle of it. Nobody deserves to get shot like that and end up in the wheelchair.”
Another man, Isadora (June) Vega, 23, was shot and killed in the same incident.
Colombo’s sister said he was shot three times and still had bullets in his back when he died.
“It was terrible for him. It took him so long to get out of the house or get on a bus. He started adjusting little by little. You imagine a handsome young man, he had friends, and cars, and money, and women, and then he ended up in a wheelchair and he had nothing,” she said.
When doctors told his mom the shooting left Colombo paralyzed from the waist down, she fainted, the sister said.
“Every day still she cries. I’ll tell her, you gotta let him go, but her heart’s still broken,” she said.
“In the house, you can hear him sometimes, there’ll be little knocks on the wall, or you can smell his cologne he used to use,” she said.
“The family just wants to leave it now. The guy served 20 years. Maybe he should have gotten more. Either way, (Colombo) is gone now. Nothing can change that,” she said.
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