Christopher Buggs had been detained for three years awaiting trial for a murder in Brooklyn in 2018.
NEW YORK – A murder suspect accidentally released from Rikers, where he was awaiting trial, was finally recaptured more than a month later, authorities said Friday.
Christopher Buggs, 26, was detained by the Department of Correction’s Office of Correctional Intelligence and the US Marshall Regional Fugitive Task Force, DOC Deputy Commissioner for Public Information Peter Thorne said in a statement.
“We hope that Mr. Buggs’ speedy return to Rikers Island will bring some comfort to the victim’s family,” Thorne added.
Buggs had been on the run for about five weeks since he was “inadvertently released” due to a clerical error on March 10, police said. He was captured in the Bronx around noon, according to The New York Post .
Buggs was in custody for three years at Rikers following his arrest for second-degree murder in February 2018 in the death of 55-year-old Ernest Brownlee, who was shot outside a Throop Avenue deli in Bed-Stuy. . Court records indicated that he was due to attend a hearing in June on the murder charges.
At the time of his accidental release, the Department of Correction’s online inmate records also showed Buggs’ status as “Released.” He had been held at the Otis Bantum facility.
Buggs was reportedly released in contempt of court, and Rikers staff did not realize that he should still be locked up for his alleged role in the murder case.
“We are aware of this incident and a full investigation into how it happened is underway. At this time we are working with our law enforcement partners to return this person to custody,” said Peter Thorne, Deputy Commissioner of public information from the department, in a statement at the time.
New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio also weighed in on the apparent mistake at the time, saying the city was looking to put in “additional safeguards to make sure this never happens again. That’s very frustrating.”
A friend and advocate for Brownlee’s widow said her mistaken release was concerning.
“If he’s out, there’s no way of knowing where he is or what he’s got in mind,” Isaac Mickens said. “From now on, it’s more or less like a cat and mouse game. We’re just waiting. I’m waiting for the man to get caught.”