Family members of Pedro Merchant, 20, who was arraigned on second-degree murder charges Friday, September 21, brawled with the family of his 17-year-old victim, Dante Quinones, in a courthouse in Hempstead, New York, leading to members of both families being arrested, reports the NY Daily News.L-R: Accused murderer, Pedro Merchant, 20; Victim Dante Quinones, 17.
According to the Nassau County Police Department, the two families were removed from the courtroom, but once they spilled out into the street, the brawl ballooned to include approximately 100 people.
Eleven court officers were injured in the melee, with one requiring hospitalization.
According to the Daily News, “the six alleged brawlers — Rahim Robinson, 22, Aaron Munlin, 20, Jerry Merchant, 50, Louis Merchant, 51, Shapeace Goodwine, 22, and Terry Green, 28 — were all expected to be back in the same court Saturday for their own arraignments.”
“I’ve never seen anything that insane in my life,” Michael Hart told News 12 Long Island.
Merchant is accused of shooting Quinones to death on September 11.
Quinones’ mother claims that Merchant was a close friend of her son’s and that she’s shocked that an argument could have escalated to gunfire. She did admit, however, that she “struggled” to keep her son from hanging with the wrong crowd and that he had feared for his life in the weeks before his death.
Merchant, who family members insist was babysitting his sister’s children at the time of the murder, is currently being held without bail and is expected to appear back in court this week.
See footage of the brawl below: