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Posted: 9/18/2004 8:21:54 PM EDT
thought I'd pass this along, heard it tonight on the drive back from syracuse, they used the emergency broadcast alert beep thing. figured it was a test until they came on and said it was an amber alert

AMBER ALERT: 3 children taken in Mamaroneck
WBEN Newsroom - Saturday, September 18, 2004 10:28 PM

Buffalo, NY (WBEN) -- Listeners are asked to be on the lookout for a suspect from the other end of New York state.

Three children were abducted Saturday afternoon around 2:55 p.m. from the Village of Mamaroneck in Westchester County.

The suspect is 42-year-old Clifford Bonner, a black / Hispanic male, with black hair and brown eyes, 6-foot-1, 185 pounds, last seen wearing a tan shirt and blue jeans.

Police say Bonner committed a homicide before the abduction, and should be considered armed, dangerous, and suicidal.

The children are:

* 7-year-old James Bonner, black / Hispanic male, 3-foot-10, 45 pounds, with brown hair and brown eyes.

* 9-year-old Stacey Bonner, black / Hispanic female, 4 feet tall, 60 pounds, with a slight build, pierced ears, with brown hair and brown eyes. Stacey was last seen wearing a white dress.

* 12-year-old Sheila Bonner, black / Hispanic female, with brown hair and brown eyes.

The suspect vehicle is a white 1993 Mercury Villager minivan with New York plates, either CXB6148 or BZM8879.

Anyone with information is asked to call 9-1-1, or the Mamaroneck Police Department at 1-914-777-1122
Link Posted: 9/19/2004 5:08:56 AM EDT
Amber Alert! Wife slain
& kids abducted


Cops say Clifford Bonner killed wife & abducted kids Stacy, Sheila & James.
A Westchester man gunned down his estranged wife and critically wounded his sister-in-law yesterday - then abducted his three kids, cops said.

A rare Amber Alert was issued for the children, ages 7 to 12, because police believe their father, Clifford Bonner, might kill them and himself.

"He's suicidal," said Detective Sgt. Robert Holland of the Mamaroneck Village Police Department.

The violence erupted around 3 p.m. outside Columbus Park in the heart of Mamaroneck, where Bonner had arranged to meet his wife, Michelle, to visit their children.

The couple had been separated at least since July, when Bonner allegedly torched the family's home in Yonkers, police said. At the park, an argument broke out and Bonner, a gun collector who has an arrest for assault, opened fire.

His wife, who had been living with the children at her mother's house in Mount Vernon, was fatally shot.

Her 18-year-old half-sister, Candice Rampersad, a Lehman College nursing student, was wounded in the head and was on life support at Sound Shore Medical Center in New Rochelle.

"We are all praying for her," an aunt told the Daily News. "It's a horrible thing. You never think something like this could happen in your family."

After the bloodshed, Bonner grabbed his three children - James, 7, Stacey, 9, and Sheila, 12 - and fled in a white 1993 Mercury Villager minivan with license plate CXB6148 or BZM8879.

He's described as 6-feet-2, 185 pounds, half-Hispanic and half-Cherokee, with brown hair, brown eyes, wearing a tan shirt and blue jeans.

His current address is unknown, but investigators said he hangs out in Mount Vernon and Yonkers and as far north as Brewster and Somers.

Bonner owns several handguns, a rifle and a shotgun and may have all the weapons with him, police said.

"He is armed and dangerous," said Mamaroneck Police Chief Edward Flynn.

An Amber Alert was issued about 6 p.m., meaning a description of Bonner, his car and the kids was sent to media outlets and broadcast on highway service signs and lottery terminals.

Police asked anyone with information about Bonner to call them at (914) 777-1122 or 911.


Link Posted: 9/19/2004 5:16:36 AM EDT
Violence rattles community

(Original publication: September 19, 2004)

A man shot his estranged wife to death and critically wounded her half-sister after an argument near Columbus Park in Mamaroneck village yesterday afternoon, then took off in a white minivan with his three children, police said.

The suspect, 41-year-old Clifford Bonner, was still on the loose with the children yesterday evening. Police said he was armed with a 9 mm handgun, and that he was suicidal. They also thought he had a rifle and a shotgun.

The dead woman was identified as 30-year-old Michelle Bonner by relatives who gathered at Sound Shore Medical Center in New Rochelle yesterday evening. Her 18-year-old half-sister was on life support at the hospital, police said.

"We consider him extremely dangerous," Mamaroneck village Police Chief Edward Flynn said last night.

Before the shooting, the couple had been talking, then arguing for more than an hour near the basketball court at Columbus Park on Van Ranst Place, witnesses said. Police think that the couple, who were separated, were arguing over their children.

"At first, you didn't think anything of it," said Will Kingston, 19, who lives directly across the street from the site of the shootings.

As the couple's discussion in the street grew louder, Michelle Bonner's half-sister sat in the passenger seat of the white Oldsmobile Cutlass Supreme that the women were driving. Police said Bonner had brought his children with him to the meeting. Witnesses said one of the children was in the back seat of the Oldsmobile when the shooting took place.

The couple were still arguing when Kingston and his friend, 18-year-old Keith Giraud, headed around the corner to Jimmy's Pizza on Mamaroneck Avenue. Just before they went to the pizzeria, Giraud said, he heard the woman yell at the man, "Leave my kid alone."

From the backseat of the car, he said he heard the child say, "Daddy, don't go."

A couple of minutes later, Ray Kingston, 50, said he heard gunshots as he worked in his repair shop next to the family's home on Van Ranst Place.

"I heard pop, pop, pop, then another four shots," he said. His wife, Susan, saw the shootings, but she was too distraught to speak to a reporter, he added.

Ray Kingston said his wife saw the man throw the woman to the ground and shoot her in the head "at point-blank range."

The other woman charged out of the car and the man shot her, too, Kingston said. He then grabbed the girl, tucked her under his arm and put her in the white minivan, Kingston said. Police said Bonner fired 10 or 11 times with the handgun.

Late yesterday, the white Oldsmobile was parked perpendicular to the park, marked off by yellow police tape running from the trees to Van Ranst Place. Police officers were searching the area around the car, and the trees in the park, for bullets. There was blood on the ground by the car's open doors, outside the passenger side.

After the shooting, the Mamaroneck village police issued an Amber Alert for Bonner and the children — 7-year-old James, 9-year-old Stacy and 11-year-old Sheila. A photograph displayed at the Mamaroneck village police station last night showed the three children sitting in front of Christmas tree and toys, their arms around each other.

Outside the hospital yesterday, relatives were keeping vigil for Michelle Bonner's half-sister. They said Michelle Bonner had grown up close to the family, but became distant after her marriage to Bonner and saw them infrequently. They described him as a troubled man. "He was kind of wacko from the beginning," said an aunt.

Bonner frequents Yonkers, Mount Vernon, Somers and Brewster, authorities said.

He had been charged with assault in Pelham in 1999, police said, after he was accused of dragging a man from a car and beating him with a nightstick in a road-rage traffic dispute.

Authorities also said there was an outstanding warrant for his arrest from Yonkers, but did not say what the charges were.

Link Posted: 9/20/2004 8:56:50 AM EDT
Wife-slaying suspect dead

(Original publication: September 20, 2004)

VALHALLA — A man accused of fatally shooting his estranged wife and abducting their three children in Mamaroneck was found dead early this morning after he dropped the children off at a Davis Avenue house and fled on foot.

The massive manhunt for Clifford Bonner, 41, ended shortly before 1 a.m. when he was found with a self-inflicted gunshot wound, Lt. Mary Matero of the Mamaroneck village police said. His body was found behind a deli at 160 Legion Drive.

"The children are safe and sound and uninjured," Matero said earlier. Sheila, 11, Stacy, 9, and James, 7, were medically evaluated and were in police custody, she said.

Heavily armed police had searched a wide swath encompassing Legion Drive, Commerce Street, Grasslands Road and Davis Avenue using dogs and a helicopter. The children apparently were dropped off at 4 Davis Ave., which is thought to be the home of Bonner's father.

The white 1993 Mercury Villager minivan in which Bonner fled with the children on Saturday also was found.

At 11:15 p.m., several police officers with guns drawn swept down on a car at Virginia Road and Hillside Avenue, forcing the driver out and frisking him. He turned out not to be Bonner.

Dozens of heavily armed police officers from several agencies, including state police, Westchester County, Greenburgh, the Department of Environmental Protection and the Metropolitan Transportation Authority, swarmed through the area yesterday as an armored vehicle made its way past Grasslands Road.

Mamaroneck village police earlier yesterday pleaded for Bonner to turn himself in.

"Our main concern is for the children," Matero said during an afternoon news conference at police headquarters. "Please release the children and surrender yourself."

Police said they had been pursuing hundreds of tips after Bonner fled in the minivan with the three children. He was accused of killing his wife, Michelle Bonner, 30, and critically injuring her half-sister, Candice Rampersad, 18, after a dispute at Columbus Park on Van Ranst Place in Mamaroneck village.

Michelle Bonner was pronounced dead at Sound Shore Medical Center of Westchester in New Rochelle at 3:50 p.m. Saturday, police said.

Rampersad was on life support at the hospital, her distraught father, Ramdeo Rampersad, said last night at his home on South Seventh Avenue in Mount Vernon. Candice Rampersad, a Mount Vernon High School graduate, is a freshman nursing student at Lehman College in the Bronx, her father said.

"Why should it happen to me now?" said Ramdeo Rampersad, an auto-body technician. "I do not believe in hurting another person."

Police said Clifford Bonner was armed with a 9 mm handgun and possibly with a rifle and shotgun.

An Amber Alert issued Saturday was in effect until the children were found late last night.

During the earlier news conference, Mamaroneck village Detective Bernard McNally said police had "no confirmed sightings."

McNally and Officer Eugene Guadagnolo headed the investigation, with assistance from Yonkers and Westchester County police.

Police said witnesses told them that the couple, who had split about two months ago, argued for about 30 minutes before the shooting occurred. Police were uncertain what the argument was about and who had the children at the time, Matero said.

Michelle Bonner had informal custody of the children and was thought to be living with a friend in Mount Vernon, police said. Clifford Bonner was unemployed with no known address. Police said he possibly lived in his vehicle and frequented Yonkers, Mount Vernon, Somers and Brewster.

At the Bonners' former address, 129 Linden St. in Yonkers, one neighbor said the family did not appear to have problems.

"I'm very surprised at what happened. They lived here a long time and it didn't look like anything was wrong," said resident Blanca Salazar. "But he did always look angry. If you said 'Hello,' he wouldn't answer. He wouldn't talk to anyone."

Yesenia Herrera, 23, an insurance verifier who has lived at 129 Linden St. for six years, said she did not speak much with the Bonners. She said she thought the family moved out of the building in 2003.

"He didn't speak with anybody," she said.

Herrera added that on occasion she would overhear the couple arguing, but didn't remember any serious escalations.

"In fact, you couldn't really tell that there were problems. The only thing is that they were very serious," Herrera said.

One of the Bonners' neighbors at 25 Saratoga Ave. in Yonkers, their last address together, had a very different recollection.

"The guy was off his rocker," said Ernesto Decoteau, 65, who identified himself as a retired New York City police officer.

Decoteau said that Clifford Bonner lived on the third floor of the building for about a year, until a July 6 fire in the apartment that fire officials ruled an arson.

Shortly before the fire, Bonner was despondent because he had lost his job as a carter and separated from his wife, Decoteau said.

"You could hear them fighting. They were very loud. Everyone in the building complained to one another," said Decoteau, adding that he did not remember the police ever coming to the building in response to the Bonners' disputes.

Decoteau also said that at other times the couple seemed happy.

Nonetheless, Decoteau said, he heard Bonner threaten to use violence, though initially he did not take the threat seriously.

"He had a grievance with the landlord, and he said he would damage the apartment if he had to leave, but people talk. I didn't think he would go that far," said Decoteau, referring to an arrest warrant for Bonner in connection with the fire at the six-family house.

On the day of the fire, authorities said empty gasoline cans were found in the third-floor apartment of a man who was being evicted.

Bonner also was charged with a Pelham assault in 1999. He was accused of dragging a 51-year-old Mount Vernon man from a car and beating him with a nightstick in a 1996 road-rage incident on Wolfs Lane. The victim was treated at Sound Shore Medical Center and released.

Police lost track of Bonner, who had sold the Volkswagen Rabbit that he was seen driving away from that attack.

Pelham police periodically checked driver registration records and found Bonner when his wife registered a car using her married name and the couple's 129 Linden St. address, where he was arrested two years and four months after the road-rage attack. The disposition of the first-degree assault charge was unavailable.

In 1993, Bonner was arrested by Carmel police on an Army desertion charge. He was released to the custody of military police from Fort Hamilton, N.Y.

Link Posted: 9/23/2004 5:31:14 AM EDT
Bonner's threat to kill wife wasn't passed to warrant office

(Original publication: September 22, 2004)

A lack of communication between Westchester County's Probation and Public Safety departments and the courts may have prevented authorities from arresting Clifford Bonner before a rampage in which he shot and killed his estranged wife, critically wounded her half-sister and abducted the couple's three children in Mamaroneck on Saturday.

Sunday night, as police conducted a massive manhunt, Bonner left the children at his father's Valhalla home, went behind a nearby deli and killed himself.

Court papers obtained by The Journal News yesterday revealed that on July 7, Bonner's estranged wife, Michelle Bonner, called his probation officer to report that he had held a gun to her and threatened to kill her three weeks earlier. She made the call the day after their apartment at 25 Saratoga Ave. in Yonkers was set on fire, after Clifford Bonner learned that his wife was leaving him and that he was being evicted.

Probation Commissioner Rocco Pozzi said that he could not comment on specifics of the case because of confidentiality regulations, but that when spouses report domestic violence they are informed of the array of services available, including shelter, emergency financial help and assistance in obtaining a court order of protection and dealing with the legal system.

"All we can do is offer this kind of help," he said. "We can't decide for them, tell them what to do or force them to do anything."

There is no record that Michelle Bonner ever sought an order of protection.

In the meantime, Yonkers police obtained an arrest warrant shortly after the fire, when a bulletproof vest and several shell casings were found in Clifford Bonner's white minivan.

"We wanted the guy — he was a high priority," Yonkers Police Chief Charles Gardner said.

Detectives and members of the arson and warrant squads looked for Clifford Bonner in Yonkers, Mount Vernon, Scarsdale and Valhalla, and interviewed Michelle Bonner and other family members, trying to find out where he was, Gardner said.

After speaking to Michelle Bonner and learning that Yonkers police suspected him of setting the apartment fire, Clifford Bonner was found to be in violation of his probation. He had been on probation since 2000, when he was convicted of felony assault for a 1996 road-rage incident in Pelham. He hit a man with a nightstick after a traffic incident.

On Sept. 1, Probation Officer Mary Frascello signed legal papers requesting that a warrant be issued for Clifford Bonner's arrest for violating probation.

Although the specific accusations were that Bonner failed to report to his probation officer, failed to report a change of address and, by being accused of setting the fire, "failed to avoid injurious and vicious habits," the papers note that Michelle Bonner said "he threatened her life and has a shotgun, a rifle and a handgun in his possession."

The warrant petition also said that Clifford Bonner "poses a serious danger to the community, his family, and any responding law enforcement agent, as well as to himself," and recommended that he be held without bail if apprehended.

The warrant was issued by state Supreme Court Justice Thomas Dickerson and received by the Westchester County Public Safety Department, which handles felony probation violation warrants, on Sept. 13.

Public Safety Commissioner Thomas Belfiore said county police have about 800 outstanding warrants and that 40 percent of those are for violations of probation.

"Usually, they are violated for technicalities, such as not meeting with their probation officer or failing a drug test," he said. "If we receive a warrant that indicates domestic violence, we send a warrant team out immediately, and they stay with it until it's resolved."

In the Bonner case, Belfiore said, there was no indication from the warrant of a potentially violent domestic situation. In what appears to be a flaw in the system, the Probation Department is not routinely informed if a felony warrant it has requested has been issued and is being handled by county police.

The Bonner warrant "came in as a routine violation-of-probation warrant stemming from an assault conviction in 2000," Belfiore said. "There was no additional paperwork — no red flags or notes or anything that would ring any bells. We didn't know anything about what was written by Probation in the warrant petition. Probation knows what they filed with the court, but they don't know that a warrant has been issued, or what it says."

Pozzi said that, in most cases, the actual warrant document is filled out by a clerk and signed by the judge.

"I don't know what Judge Dickerson had in front of him when he signed the warrant, but I know that he and the courts in general take these kinds of cases very seriously. They don't fool around with them," he said.

Dickerson could not be reached for comment yesterday. His court clerk, Ephram Nieves, could not say why the Bonner warrant did not mention any potential for violence. He said the warrant was drawn up and signed "according to routine procedure, based on the underlying charge."

Susan Tolchin, chief adviser to County Executive Andrew Spano, said immediate changes in the way probation warrants are handled have been put in place.

"As a result of this, the procedures have been changed so that when the police department receives a warrant, they'll let Probation know so that they can be told about information that might not appear in the actual warrant document," she said.

Meanwhile, Lt. Mary Matero of the Mamaroneck village police said investigators were continuing to interview family members and others about Bonner's actions after the Saturday shootings. She said police had learned that he spent that Saturday night with his children at a Danbury, Conn., motel, "based on a receipt that was found on his body."

Matero said Michelle Bonner's half-sister, Candice Rampersad, remained in critical condition on life support at Sound Shore Medical Center in New Rochelle.

Tolchin said the couple's three children, Sheila, 11, Stacy, 9, and James, 7, are in temporary foster care as officials from Child Protective Services interview family members and try to determine who will take care of them. She could not say when a decision would be made.

Belfiore said county police were testing the 9 mm handgun found near Bonner's body to determine whether it was the same weapon used to shoot Michelle Bonner and Rampersad.

Link Posted: 9/25/2004 10:15:09 AM EDT
Woman wounded in Bonner attack dies

(Original publication: September 25, 2004)

MOUNT VERNON — Candice Rampersad, who was wounded in the same gun attack that killed her half-sister a week ago, died yesterday at Sound Shore Medical Center, the day after Michelle Ramal-Bonner's funeral.

Rampersad, 18, had been on life support at the New Rochelle hospital since the two women were shot by Clifford Bonner last Saturday. Family members decided to remove her from life support at 3:30 p.m. after doctors confirmed that she was brain dead, said Karen Bert, a cousin from Putnam Valley.

"They weren't waiting for Michelle's funeral to be over," Bert said. "The doctors evaluated her, and they assessed her as brain dead."

Bert and four other cousins gathered last night on the steps of the Mount Vernon home where Rampersad lived with her family. Ramlal-Bonner had also been living there since leaving her husband of 12 years in July.

Bonner, 41, shot and killed Ramlal-Bonner and critically wounded Rampersad after a dispute at Columbus Park in Mamaroneck. After fleeing with the couple's three children and evading a manhunt, he killed himself late Sunday near his parents' home in Valhalla.

Rampersad, a Mount Vernon High School graduate and freshman nursing student at Lehman College in the Bronx, had been described by neighbors as pretty, smart and extremely close to Ramlal-Bonner.

"They were very, very close," neighbor Carlyle Bandoo said earlier this week. "Candice was always with her."

Rampersad's parents remained inside last night and were too upset to speak with anyone, Bert said. Funeral arrangements had not yet been determined, she said.

Bert said flowers, prayers and good wishes had poured in from all over Westchester this week as news of the tragedy spread.

"We would like to say thank you to the public for their support from the Rampersad family," she said.
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