'I remember it vividly': Woman who ID'd killer of NYPD detectives is now sergeant in same precinct
NYPD Sergeant Candice Negron remembers quickly alerting an officer to one of the suspects 20 years ago
By Leonard Greene
New York Daily News
NEW YORK — Twenty years ago, when two undercover detectives were executed by a ruthless illegal gun dealer in Staten Island, Candice Negron helped cops identify one of the suspects trying to flee on the ferry.
Now, Negron, the daughter of a retired detective, is an NYPD sergeant working in the same precinct as the officers whose killers she helped catch as a civilian.
“The cycle of life brought me right back there,” said Negron, 43, a sergeant in Staten Island’s 120th Precinct.
Detective James Nemorin and his partner, Detective Rodney Andrews, were carrying out a gun-buying sting when they were both shot in the head from behind by a gunman seated in the backs of their car on March 10, 2003.
The shooter, Ronell Wilson, rifled their bodies for cash before dumping them on the street.
[PREVIOUSLY: Slain NYC Detectives Were on Risky Detail]
The next morning, Negron was on the ferry headed to her retail job in Manhattan when she noticed a man sitting across from her who looked like one of the suspects pictured in a newspaper she was carrying.
The man wore a dress, high-heel pumps, red lipstick and a blond wig. The disguise did not fool Negron, who found a police officer, and convinced him she had seen one of the shooting suspects.
“I said, ‘He’s down there,’ she recalled. “I yanked his arm. ‘Either that’s him or that’s the ugliest woman I’ve ever seen.’”
Cops said Omar Green, the man Negron identified, was the mastermind behind the gun deal that ended in the execution of Andrews and Nemorin.
His capture led to the arrest of triggerman Wilson and accomplice Jessie Jacobus. Prosecutors said Jacobus was sitting in the backseat with Wilson and helped him pull the lifeless bodies out of the car.
Wilson was sentenced to life in prison after an appeals court overturned his death sentence, and Brooklyn federal prosecutors decided not to try him again.
Jacobus, who cooperated with authorities, was released on parole in 2018.
Jacobus testified that he, Green, Wilson and a fourth suspect, Michael Whiten, met at Green’s Stapleton Houses apartment on the morning of the killings and hatched the scheme to set up a phony gun sale and then rob the buyers of $1,300 they expected them to be carrying to pay for a Tec-9 pistol.
Nemorin, who had previously bought a gun from Green and Whiten, showed up with Andrews.
But instead of doing the deal as planned, Wilson shot both cops in the head from behind, a horrific execution that shocked and outraged the city.
The murders had a lasting effect on Negron. Not only had she grown up in the same Staten Island housing complex where the killer lived, the murdered cops reminded her of her father, retired Detective Dwight Cunningham.
“They actually physically resembled my father,” Negron said. “It saddened me as a daughter of a detective. Imagine if that had been my father, if he didn’t come home.
“I felt like those two men were related to me,” Negron said. “They both remind me of him.”
Although the murders strengthened her resolve to become a police officer, they weren’t what drove her. The seeds for that dream had been planted long before.
“I knew in high school,” Negron said. “I wanted to be like my father. I wanted to be a New York City detective.”
And she was. Before she was promoted to sergeant a year ago and transferred to the 120th Precinct, Negron worked for a year as a detective, a period she calls “the best time of my career.”
“I was working with families of homicide victims, being there for people who were going through such a loss, " Negron said. “I learned a lot of investigative work. It challenged me professionally for the better.”
Now, Negron is a youth coordination sergeant, dealing with schools and at-risk teens.
Although Friday’s anniversary of the murders will open old wounds for cops, detectives say they are still grateful 20 years later for the role Negron played in helping to catch the killers.
[EARLIER: For 2nd time, double NY cop killer avoids death penalty]
“It was a terrible day for law enforcement,” said Detectives’ Endowment Association President Paul DiGiacomo. “She was instrumental in identifying the subjects that tied everything together. She’s a genuine person. The DEA is very happy she’s in our lives. She took an oath and followed in her father’s footsteps.”
Negron still takes the ferry now and then, and she often walks by the intersection in Tompkinsville where the bodies of Andrews, 34, and Nemorin, 36, were found.
The streets — St. Paul Avenue and Hannah Street — were renamed in their honor last year.
“I pass that street a lot,” Negron said. “I get a weird feeling in my stomach. Even having to think about them just laying there, it makes my stomach hurt.”
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