NYPD thanks police for arrest of fugitive in 1999 killing of New York officer

Spokesperson blames misreading of charges for confusion

By Erik Avanier - Reporter, Roxy Tyler - Web producer

JACKSONVILLE, Fla. - UPDATE: News4Jax has learned that Officer Vincent Ling, whose shooting led to Friday's arrest of Lester Pearson in Jacksonville, did not die of his injuries. An NYPD spokesperson said confusion over wording in Pearson's arrest warrant led to the mistaken belief that Ling had died.

The commissioner of the New York Police Department is thanking law enforcement in Jacksonville, Florida after the arrest of a suspect in a 1999 shooting of an off-duty police officer.

Commissioner James O'Neill tweeted his appreciation Sunday for Jacksonville police and U.S. marshals in the arrest of Lester Pearson.

Pearson, 43, was taken into custody Friday morning in connection to the death of Officer Vincent Ling, who was off-duty at the time of the shooting and subsequently died. Authorities said he had been living in Florida under a false name.

O'Neill says: "Law enforcement professionals demonstrate time & again that we are patient & that our collaborative forces have a very long reach."  

Here's how it went down on Friday. U.S. marshals and a Jacksonville Sheriff's Office SWAT team converged on a home on the city's Northside and arrested the man wanted in the 1999 shooting of an off-duty police officer in New York City, authorities said.

Lester Pearson, 43, was taken into custody without incident at about 8:45 a.m. Friday at the home on Broad Creek Lane, which is near the Florida State College at Jacksonville North Campus. Authorities said he had been living at the address under the name of Michael Davis for years.

According to New York City police, Pearson shot an off-duty officer in the Bronx in a dispute over Pearson dating the officer’s sister. Officer Vincent Ling was left paralyzed and eventually died from his injuries.

Pearson also had warrants out for his arrest in Louisiana on charges of trafficking in marijuana and assaulting a police officer. 

Georgia and Florida driver's license photos

Authorities said he was armed with a handgun when arrested, so he is facing a local charge of possession of a firearm by an out-of-state felon.

"I don't have any words. I'm, like, 'Wow,'" said a neighbor, who did not want to be named. "He was this close to us. That's scary."

Home surveillance video, which News4Jax has been asked not to show for safety reasons, captured the moment federal marshals rushed down Broad Creek Lane in unmarked vehicles to the home at the end of the cul-de-sac. One is even seen wearing body armor while holding his gun and running toward the house. Moments later, several marshals can be seen escorting the arrestee down the driveway.

“It was early. You hear a bunch of people screaming, 'Get on the ground,'" said one woman, who lives nearby and who wished to remain anonymous. "You look outside and there’s U.S. marshals on the street. It was just shocking and pretty scary."

Other neighbors, who also asked not to be identified, said Pearson often kept to himself. 

“That guy was in and out the neighborhood for the last seven or eight months. He never spoke to anyone. He was just in and out," said one neighbor.

Another neighbor said, “He didn’t bother me and he didn’t do anything. He seemed like he was cool with the kids over there and everybody."

Pearson was booked into the Duval County jail, where he's being held on a $40,000 bond and his next court appearance was set for March 29.

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