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Off-duty CO shoots, kills man playing with ‘bead blasters’ air rifle

Dion Middleton, 45, was charged with murder, manslaughter and criminal possession of a weapon for the death of Raymond Chaluisant, 18

By Rocco Parascandola, Kerry Burke, Emma Seiwell
New York Daily News

NEW YORK - A young man firing a toy water gun was fatally shot in the Bronx early Thursday — and an off-duty city Department of Correction officer was later arrested for the slaying.

Dion Middleton, 45, was hit with murder, manslaughter and criminal possession of a weapon for the death of Raymond Chaluisant, 18.

According to police, Chaluisant was shooting a toy water gun from inside a car and Middleton allegedly shot him with his own weapon, firing more than once, sources said. It was unclear who Chaluisant had been aiming at, cops said.

But Chaluisant’s older sister, Jiraida Esquilin, 29, said her little brother was just taking part in a water gun fight with neighborhood friends on a hot summer night.

“I can’t believe a corrections officer killed my brother,” Esquilin said. “Everything nowadays is a rage thing.”

“They were just having fun,” she said. “It’s a new nerf gun that shoots water. The whole neighborhood was having a water gun fight. It was 90 degrees.”

Esquilin said her devastated family was already grieving the loss of her father, who died five months ago. She added that her mother couldn’t identify her fatally wounded son, asserting he’d been shot at close range in the chin.

“My brother was well known and well loved by everyone in that neighborhood,” Esquilin said. “He was just hanging out and having a good time.”

The family doesn’t know who Chaluisant was with, but he had told his mother earlier he was going to McDonald’s.

The fatal shooting took place at Cross Bronx Expressway and Morris Ave., but Chaluisant was found a half mile away, cops said. He was unconscious in the passenger seat of a silver Acura when cops arrived at 1:35 a.m. at the Grand Concourse and E. Tremont Ave. in Mount Hope.

Police did not immediately release the name of the vehicle driver, who was a 22-year-old acquaintance of Chaluisant’s from Yonkers, cops said.

“I can’t believe they just drove him and left him there,” Esquilin said of the Acura driver.

The teen was rushed to St. Barnabas Hospital but he could not be saved.

Police sources said Chaluisant was firing an “Orbeez” gun, which resembles a pistol and shoots gel water beads propelled by a spring-loaded air pump. They are considered air rifles, and are unlawful to possess in NYC, cops said Thursday.

Middleton works in training at the NYPD shooting range in Rodman’s Neck, and he allegedly went to work following the fatal shooting, sources said. Police tracked down Middleton through surveillance canvassing, following his vehicle. The corrections officer was arrested at work in Rodman’s Neck, earlier today, cops said.

“He went and clocked in. He’s a 45-year-old man,” Esquilin said. “Raymond could’ve been his son. What a coward.”

Police said they recovered a shell casing at the scene but later determined Chaluisant was actually shot nearly a half-mile away — at Morris Ave. and the Cross Bronx Expressway.