3 Held in Amsterdam Avenue Killing

| 09 Jul 2015 | 06:34

Three men have been arrested on murder charges in connection with the killing of an Amsterdam Avenue shopkeeper during a robbery attempt on June 18, authorities said.

Stephen Adams, 27, of no known address; his brother Michael Adams, 29, of Anderson Avenue in the Bronx; and Zubearu Bettis, 44, of no known address were arrested on federal charges today for the shooting death of Bubacarr Camara, police said.

Camara, a recent arrival from Gambia, was killed during what a police source called a “botched robbery” of BNC General Merchandise, on Amsterdam between 104th and 105th Streets, in the late morning that Thursday.

All three face single conspiracy, robbery and murder counts, according to a five-count indictment handed up in United States District Court in Manhattan. Stephen Adams and Bettis also face additional robbery and weapons counts in connection with the armed robbery of a similar T-shirt store on Adam Clayton Powell Jr. Boulevard in Harlem late June 15 or early June 16.

Police had suspected the two incidents were connected soon after Camara’s killing, which happened in broad daylight on a mostly residential stretch of Amsterdam that abounds with commercial activity.

Stephen and Michael Adams were arrested early this morning and Bettis at about 11 a.m., police said.

Camara, of Gerard Avenue in the Bronx, was working at his father’s store that morning, the first day of Ramadan. According to a friend, he had been reciting prayers from the Koran inside the store earlier in the day.

Officers found Camara, 26, with “severe head trauma” inside the shop, police said. He was taken to St. Luke’s Hospital, where he was pronounced dead.

Stephen Adams, Michael Adams and Bettis are being charged under the Hobbs Act, a federal statute directed at racketeering and organized crime activities. Convictions under the statute usually result in harsher penalties than those doled out following local prosecutions. It has been successfully used by federal prosecutors against armed robbers targeting businesses.

Camara’s killing is the year’s only homicide within the 24th Precinct’s confines, according to police data.

Convictions on the conspiracy and robbery charges each carry a maximum 20-year sentence, according to the U.S. Attorney’s office. Conviction on the weapons count would bring a mandatory minimum 10-year term and a possible life term, as would the murder charge, which could also result in the death penalty.