The most-wanted man in New York spoke to reporters on Tuesday via a friend’s cellphone.
Julio “Wemo” Acevedo pledged to surrender on charges that he fled the scene after driving his borrowed BMW into a livery cab carrying an expectant young couple in Brooklyn, killing them and the baby boy who was delivered prematurely in the same moments as the mother was dying, only to succumb later.
The city’s outrage at the deaths of Raizy and Nathan Glauber and their baby boy intensified when it became known that 44-year-old Acevedo was a convicted killer whose criminal record also includes arrests for drugs and robbery, as well as a gun case so serious he had been sentenced to 77 months in federal prison. His most recent arrest had been for drunk driving in another borrowed BMW on February 17 of this year. He nonetheless insisted to the reporters on Tuesday that he is not such a bad guy.
“I’m truly not,” he said over speaker phone.
Acevedo told the reporters that somebody had started firing a gun at him shortly before the car wreck and that he had fled the scene because he was afraid he would be shot.
“I was scared, man,” he said, “I was scared.”
When he was asked for details, Acevedo said the shooting had erupted as he was climbing into the BMW.
“They pulled the gun out and said, ‘Nothing is ever forgotten,’” he said.
Acevedo sounded like he told the reporters this earlier incident had been on Carlton Avenue. The problem for him is that Carlton Avenue is two neighborhoods and more than 20 blocks from the straightaway stretch of Kent Avenue where the accident occurred. He might have some difficulty making a jury believe that he had any justification for traveling at a high speed and that he was in such fear for his life that he was compelled to flee the car crash.
But by naming such a distant street, Acevedo might have been anticipating a need to explain in court why anybody would want to be shooting at him. Carlton Avenue is in the home turf of Kelvin Martin, a.k.a. 50 Cent, a fearsome young gunman not to be confused with the rapper 50 Cent, who assumed the former's name. The original 50 Cent was shot to death by Acevedo back in 1987.
At the time, Martin was the Brooklyn equivalent of Billy the Kid. He stood just 5 feet 2 and weighed only 120 pounds, but he was said to have killed as many as 30 people as one of Brooklyn’s original “stickup kids,” who perpetrated an unending robbery spree that ranged from shopkeepers to college kids to drug dealers to rap stars. He was said to have relieved LL Cool J of a gold rope chain in the parking lot of a White Castle.
The reason for his nickname is the subject of debate. Some say it was his half-pint height, others that no amount was too small for him to rob. He owned a gold-colored Jetta, but he was not given to using a getaway car. He simply strolled away from robberies and shootings, even on busy streets in broad daylight. He seemed not to fear anyone.
“My heart goes out to them,” he said of the couple. “I didn’t know they died until I saw the news.”
In the same way that legend became myth in the Wild West, there were tales of Martin shooting parking meters and distributing the coins to star-struck youngsters. He was even said to have tossed coins in the air and shot them with the Colt .45 and the .357 Magnum he was said always to carry.
Not everybody was so admiring, and Martin was shot at least 23 times on nine occasions. He sought to escape further harm by joining the Army and made it through basic training, only for NYPD detectives to show up at Fort Benning and arrest him on a robbery warrant.
When he was back on the streets in Brooklyn, Martin took to wearing a bulletproof vest. He moved from the Ingersoll Houses, where he had been living with the grandmother who had raised him since he was 8 and his mother put him on a bus to her mother with a note pinned to his chest.
Martin now settled in his girlfriend’s 13th-floor apartment in the Albany Houses, where he could expect to be alerted should any interlopers appear. The girlfriend, Precious Golston, would later suggest that Martin was too trusting of his “soldiers”—not his comrades in the Army but his street crew.
The crew is said to have included Wemo Acevedo, then 18. He came by the girlfriend’s apartment on October 20, 1987, and left with Martin around 10 p.m. Martin was trusting and relaxed enough that he was not wearing his bulletproof vest.
Moments later, gunshots rang out in the stairwell. A resident found 23-year-old Martin sprawled on the seventh-floor landing, bleeding from wounds to the head, chest, and stomach. He was rushed to Kings County Hospital, where he held on for three days and seemed likely to survive yet another shooting.
But on October 24, Martin took a turn for the worse and died.
Acevedo was arrested and sentenced to an eight- to 16-year term for manslaughter. He reportedly sought to explain his apparent treachery by saying that some unnamed crime kingpin had kidnapped a relative and threatened to kill his entire family if he did not shoot Martin.
Acevedo was released in 1997, only to be arrested 12 days later for robbery. He was returned to prison but was back out in time to get arrested on federal firearms charges. He was sentenced to six years and five months.
Meanwhile, the rapper Curtis Jackson adopted the name 50 Cent. The original 50 Cent had died all but destitute; the hospital had returned only his gold teeth, and somebody had apparently cleaned out the safety deposit box at the Dime Savings Bank where he was known to keep bail money. 50 Cent the rapper now pledged to buy the original 50 Cent a suitable headstone.
The result was an outsize coin fashioned from Indian red marble and inscribed with a big “50c.” The rapper reportedly failed to make good on his promise, and the tab was picked up by James “Jimmy Henchman” Rosemond, a former jail mate of Martin’s turned music mogul. Henchman has since been convicted of cocaine trafficking and is presently under indictment for allegedly conspiring to murder an associate of 50 Cent the rapper.
Acevedo had been out of prison for six years when police pulled him over in a BMW last month. He told police that he was just coming from a baby shower at the Sugar Hill Club in Bedford-Stuyvesant. He allegedly tested at almost twice the legal limit for blood alcohol and was arrested for drunk driving.
Acevedo was given an April 20 court date and was back at the wheel of another BMW early Sunday morning. The police estimate that he was driving at least 60 mph down Kent Avenue when he reached the intersection with Wilson Street.
By his own admission to reporters, Acevedo plowed into the cab carrying the expectant couple and then fled the scene. The baby was delivered alive, and the couple’s family and community sought some solace in the hope that this link to the ill-fated two would survive. That was not to be, and after a posthumous circumcision the newborn boy was buried with his parents.
The man who had said he was coming from a baby shower at his arrest for drunk driving was now wanted for fleeing a crash that killed a baby, along with the baby’s parents. Reporters seeking background information on Acevedo visited his mother’s home in Brooklyn. A woman who declined to give her name said she had nothing to tell them, adding, “I didn’t raise him.”
When he spoke on a friend’s cellphone to reporters from the New York Daily News and WABC news on Tuesday, Acevedo said he intended to surrender as soon as he consulted a lawyer. Police said he still had turned himself in as of the early evening.
Acevedo has unquestionably locked himself into the story of fleeing gunfire. And on a recording of the call it sure sounds like he said it was on faraway Carlton Avenue.
He will surprise nobody if he seeks to make the story more plausible by suggesting that the gunman’s supposed cry of “nothing is ever forgotten” was a reference to the killing of a onetime legend of the Brooklyn streets.
“My heart goes out to them,” he said of the couple in the cellphone talk with reporters. “I didn’t know they died until I saw the news.”
But Acevedo almost certainly knew they were seriously injured. And even if the ghost of 50 Cent himself had been shooting at him blocks away, Acevedo is not likely to convince anyone that he could have been so scared as to justify leaving a pregnant woman and her husband to die.
He had better get used to people thinking he is a very bad guy indeed.