De Blasio vows ‘full review’ as NYC murder suspect mistakenly released from Rikers Island remains at large

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New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio on Wednesday promised a “full review” after a murder suspect held for three years awaiting trial was mistakenly released from the infamous prison on Rikers Island.

Christopher Buggs, 26, from Brooklyn, remains at-large Thursday morning, a New York Police Department (NYPD) spokesman told Fox News.

Surrounding jurisdictions have been notified about efforts to locate Buggs since he was mistakenly released from the Otis Bantum Correctional Center on Monday due to a clerical error. He is considered armed and dangerous, and corrections officers were reportedly warned to call NYPD instead of attempting to apprehend Buggs themselves. 


Addressing the ongoing manhunt at his press conference Wednesday, de Blasio said he has “a high level of confidence” that Buggs will be re-apprehended shortly, vowing a “full review” into how he was released prematurely earlier in the week in the first place.

“This is being fully investigated right now. We’re going to put additional safeguards in place to make sure this never happens again. It’s very frustrating,” he said. “It was based on a court order, but it was apparently one case that this inmate had connected to him, but there were other charges obviously as well that should’ve meant he remained incarcerated. So we’re going to get a full review of this immediately, make whatever changes we have to.”

A spokesperson for de Blasio didn’t return Fox News’ request for comment Thursday.

Buggs — jailed without bail at Rikers Island while awaiting trial for more than three years — is accused of fatally shooting 55-year-old Ernesto Brownlee outside a bodega in Bedford-Stuyvesant, Brooklyn, on Jan. 29, 2018, the New York Daily News reported.

Christopher Buggs was mistakenly released from a Rikers Island prison Monday due to a clerical error. (NYPD Crime Stoppers)

Christopher Buggs was mistakenly released from a Rikers Island prison Monday due to a clerical error. (NYPD Crime Stoppers)

Brownlee, an ex-convict who murdered two men in the 1980s, was shot three times in the chest, and police tracked down and arrested Buggs three days later. He reportedly cared for his wife who was wheelchair bound, according to local reports.

Brownlee’s now widow, 55-year-old Winifred Mackins said in an interview with the Daily News that she was devastated upon hearing that Buggs was mistakenly freed from Rikers Island.

“They need to find this guy,” Mackins told the newspaper. “I don’t like this. I’m angry. I’m everything.”

“It’s been really rough,” she said of her husband’s murder. “I still wake up looking for him.”

A Brooklyn Supreme Court judge sentenced Buggs to 30 days in a criminal contempt case related to a courtroom outburst. During a court appearance in February, Buggs reportedly shouted obscenities at the judge for not letting him out on bail while awaiting trial for murder.

That short sentence was mistakenly listed as the final disposition in the murder case, sources told the Daily News. Jail staffers did not realize the error before releasing Buggs Monday.


“We are aware of this incident and a full investigation into how this happened is underway,” New York City Correction Department spokesman Peter Thorne said in a statement provided to Fox News earlier Wednesday. “Right now we are working with our law enforcement partners to return this‎ individual to custody.”

The Correction Intelligence Bureau was notified about the premature release and has been working with partner law enforcement agencies to return the individual to custody.

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