BROOKLYN — A retired Department of Correction officer fatally shot a fellow straphanger after getting into a fight with him and his friend for blocking a subway car door Tuesday night, sources said.
Willie Groomes, 69, who retired from the DOC in 1993, was boarding a southbound 4 train at Bowling Green at approximately 6:30 p.m. Tuesday when he walked in between a pair of friends having a conversation while blocking the doors, sources said.
Gilbert Drogheo, 32, of Morningside Heights, and his friend, Joscelyn Evering, 28, took exception with Groomes for walking between them and began to make angry comments to him, sources said.
Groomes replied in kind, prompting one of the men to shove him down into an empty subway seat, sources said.
Drogheo and Evering got off the train at Borough Hall and Groomes followed them, walking behind them to the mezzanine where they continued to argue and he pulled out his service weapon — a .380 Ruger — and shot Drogheo in the chest, according to sources. The exchange was caught on video according to CBS2.
Drogheo was pronounced dead at Brooklyn Hospital Center, police said.
Groomes, who sources said has permits for his weapon, was taken into police custody but was questioned and released, according to police and sources. He returned home with his lawyer later Wednesday morning, sources said.
Police arrested Evering, a Kensington resident, at the scene and charged him with assault and menacing.
Every has been arrested eight times before, mostly on drug charges, an NYPD spokesman said. He was arrested most recently in May 2014 for having forged identification cards, the spokesman said.
The Brooklyn District Attorney's office said they will investigate the shooting to see if charges against Groomes are warranted.
The former officer's family member said they were stunned by the news of the shooting, saying that the altercation and shooting was out of character for Groomes.
"To me, he was easygoing," his step-mother Vestoria Groomes said. "He's not that type of person."
His nephew, Kalif Carpenter, said his uncle was acting in self-defense.
"If he was that threatened, he did what he had to do," he said.
The Department of Correction declined to comment, referring calls to the NYPD.
The president of the city's Correction Officer's Benevolent Association, Norman Seabrook, did not immediately respond to a request for comment.
Drogheo, a single father who worked as an electrician, lived in the Grant Houses with his mother.
"He was a great kid. All he did was work," said the man, who refused to give his name.
National Action Network representative Rev. Kevin McCall said his family planned to have a press conference in front of the 84th Precinct on Thursday.
With reporting by Trevor Kapp