The 18-year-old celebrating his birthday with 40 friends on a party bus rolling through downtown Brooklyn said he had no idea his guests were packing heat — even though cops found him sitting on a pistol, prosecutors said Saturday.
“Cops were able to remove the firearm before they put him in cuffs,” Brooklyn Assistant District Attorney Mary Sessa said of birthday boy Wondell Sharp, who was one of 14 people arrested as cops blew out the candles on his celebration Friday.
Sharp, still dressed in his party duds, was ordered held on $25,000 bail as he and his friends were arraigned Saturday afternoon.
His mother and father gave Sharp the money to celebrate his birthday, his lawyer Nancy Tang said.
“He hired a party bus,” Tang said. “He invited friends on the bus and told them to invite people. He did not have any knowledge there were guns on the bus.”
Tang said that Sharp didn’t touch any of the firearms, but prosecutors had an entirely different account of what happened.
“The defendant was in fact seen on the bus sitting on a loaded firearm,” Sessa said.
Officials said it was the first arrest for Sharp, a senior at Lincoln High School in Coney Island.
Sharp’s mother, Rosana Infante, said Saturday she couldn’t believe he was arrested.
“My son is a good kid. He’s graduating in June,” said Infante.
Sharp played basketball for the Lincoln High Railsplitters until the COVID-19 pandemic struck. “He’s one of the best players they have,” Infante said.
During the Railsplitters’ 2019-2020 season, Sharp played in 14 games, and scored 24 two-point shots and 5 three-pointers, PSAL records show.
“It blows my mind every time I go to that school,” Infante said. “He’s an outstanding kid. I’ve never had to go to the school for my child’s behavior. They love him.”
Infante is convinced her son will be acquitted on the basis of video evidence she expects police have found aboard the bus.
“They have to get the camera [footage] off the bus,” she said. “There were a lot of girls who witnessed he was in the front of the bus, nowhere near a gun.”
She believes cops arbitrarily arrested Sharp.
“Who brought that on there, I don’t know,” Infante said. “You have a bus of 41 people, and they arrest 14 only. None of the girls were arrested. How do they choose?”
Multiple community tips based on social media postings led police to the bus, which cops stopped on Front St. near Main St. in Dumbo about 12:30 a.m. Friday.
Police recovered eight firearms and 58 rounds of ammunition on the bus.
The 14 suspects included three juveniles, some of whom were affiliated with the “Road to Riches” street gang, officials said. Most of the defendants lived in the Unity Houses, a NYCHA complex in East New York.
Sharp and two 19-year-old suspects, Kshawn Bowers and Seyquan Abrams, were each arraigned on weapons possession charges.
The other eight adult defendants were each charged with endangering the welfare of a child because a few minors were found on board. Those suspects were released without bail.
Abrams, whose father is a chaplain for the NYPD’s 75th Precinct, was found with a weapon on his person, prosecutors said.
“Officers asked if he had anything on him, he lifted his leg and cops removed a firearm from him,” ADA Sessa said of Abrams, who was ordered held on $25,000 bail.
Bowers posted images on Snapchat and Instagram that got detectives’ attention and had his “foot on a loaded firearm” when cops boarded the bus, ADA Sessa said.
“I didn’t know anything, I didn’t touch anything, I didn’t do anything,” Bowers told police. “I took the guns to snap a photo.”
Bowers was ordered held on $30,000 bail because he had an outstanding robbery charge.
Defense attorney Sara Malinaro said the teen plans to attend a college in New England on a football scholarship, although his enrollment has been delayed by the coronavirus pandemic.
“He is afraid this will affect his college admissions and future,” Malinaro said.
Judge Robin Sheares empathized, but was unmoved by Bowers college plans.
“I congratulate you on graduating high school and getting into college but I take gun cases seriously,” Sheares told Bowers as weeping family members sat in the gallery. “I live in a community where these guns come back to.”