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LIC shootings leave one dead

Two people were charged with murder after a drug-related shooting last week in the Queensbridge Houses left one man dead and two others wounded, authorities said.

Magin Rifas, 31, and Christina Rosario, 23, both of Brooklyn, were arrested on suspicion of second-degree murder, a source close to the investigation said. They were arraigned in Queens Criminal Court Friday on charges of second-degree murder, attempted burglary, attempted robbery and weapons possession, the Queens district attorney’s office said.

Both were held without bail, the DA’s office said. If convicted, they face up to 25 years to life in prison, the DA said. Their next court date is April 9.

Police were still searching for a third suspect, believed to be a Hispanic man between 26 and 30 years old, the source said.

The incident began around midnight last Thursday at 41-17 Vernon Blvd., police said.

According to a criminal complaint filed by the Queens DA’s office, Rifas and Rosario along with one other person had gone to an apartment on the sixth floor to rob the occupants.

Rosario knocked on the door and the group forced its way in, binding the occupants with duct tape and stealing items from the apartment, the DA’s office said.

Michael Martin, 32, of the upstate New York state hamlet Pine Bush approached the group outside the apartment along with two other men, but one of the alleged robbers pulled out a gun and opened fire. Martin was shot in the chest. He was taken to Weill Cornell Medical Center in Manhattan where he was pronounced dead, police said.

Two 21-year-old men, one shot in the arm and the other shot in the chest and arm, were reported to be in stable condition, police said.

Two neighbors at the building last Thursday morning said the people involved in the shooting had moved in recently and were not well-known to the residents.

Another man, William Boyd, said he was shocked by the incident.

“It’s a nice building,” he said. “I just came home and there were police everywhere.”

The murder has had an additional fallout for the Queensbridge community. A Cops and Kids basketball tournament put on by City Councilman Peter Vallone’s (D-Astoria) office and the local housing police that was scheduled for the upcoming week has been canceled by the NYPD because of the investigation.

Bishop Mitchell Taylor, founder of the social services nonprofit East River Devleopment Alliance, said his heart went out to the family of the dead man, but pointed out the alleged perpetrators were from Brooklyn.

“Obviously this happened outside the hood and they came to Queensbridge to settle it,” he said, urging residents to consider starting tenant watch groups in the buildings.

Martin’s death was the third homicide of 2010 in the 114th Precinct, which had a total of four homicides in 2009. Overall major crimes were down 2 percent for the year as of March 31.

Reach reporter Jeremy Walsh by e-mail at jewalsh@cnglocal.com or by phone at 718-260-4564.

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