More than two years after Frederick Khabir Wells was shot and killed in the City of Poughkeepsie, a New York man is charged in his murder.
Around 8 p.m. on June 20, 2020, Wells was on the corner of North Bridge and Charles streets, blocks from his home. The 16-year-old was shot in the back, the autopsy report said, and the bullet pierced his heart. He was shot after his companion, another 16-year-old who survived the encounter, was stabbed.
Elijah Bermudez, 29, an alleged member of the "Bully Hard Hunna Blood Gang," was indicted by a grand jury in U.S. Southern District of New York Court in White Plains on charges of murder in aid of racketeering, racketeering conspiracy, murder through the use of a firearm, and being a felon in possession of ammunition. The first three of those charges carry a maximum sentence of death or life in prison, according to a release from the office of Damian Williams, the U.S. Attorney for the Southern District of New York.
The charges, according to the indictment, are tied to the June 20, 2020 fatal shooting of a minor in the area of Charles Street in Poughkeepsie; Wells' name is not used in the indictment or Williams' statement.
Gangs Next Door: Poughkeepsie struggles to break cycle of violence
Crime: Gang member pleads guilty to role in fatal shooting of Poughkeepsie 15-year-old
'Fireworks bursting in lobby': $50M lawsuit reveals new details in Poughkeepsie hotel shooting
Wells was the first of five boys and men, ages 24 and younger, who were fatally shot in the city in a span of less than a year; three of them were under the age of 17. Others suffered severe wounds.
Wells' mother, Allison Dock, told the Journal in summer 2021 she not only continued to feel pain from her son's loss, but also trapped in her own home due to gang activity outside her door. Their story was featured in a Journal investigation into violence in the city.
Wells, in the days and weeks after his death, was remembered as laid back, with a sharp sense of humor.
"I didn't know of him getting in trouble," Davontrey Thomas, a 2019 Poughkeepsie High School graduate, told the Journal after the shooting. "He didn't seem like the kind of guy that would have something like this happen to them."
According to the indictment, the "Bully Hard" gang has engaged in murder, robbery, fraud and drug distribution "in and around New York City and upstate New York," with the purpose of expanding its business and promote the standing and protection of the gang. The indictment noted that included "a series of violent disputes with rivals of Bully Hard, as well as those within Bully Hard who they deemed disloyal." Other acts of violence, the indictment asserts, was in an effort to promote fear.
Bermudez, the indictment charges, operated within the gang from about early 2020 to April 2022, with the nickname of "Quiet." The New York resident shot the 16-year-old that night, the indictment asserts, "for the purpose of gaining entrance to and maintaining and increasing position in Bull Hard."
In addition to using a gun for the purpose of murder, Bermudez "had previously been convicted in court of a crime punishable by imprisonment," making it illegal for him to possess the gun in general, the indictment states.
"Gangs like Bully Hard reward violence with promotions within the group, which often leads to tragic deaths, including the minor victim in this case," Williams said in the statement. "We hope this investigation and prosecution brings some measure of closure to the family of Bermudez's alleged victim."
This article originally appeared on Poughkeepsie Journal: Poughkeepsie murder: Alleged Bully Hard gang member charged