Mamaroneck Village Slay Suspect Apparent Suicide: 3 Children Safe, Aunt on Life Support

by Judy Silberstein

(September 23, 2004) A violent incident that started with the shooting death of one woman, critical wounding of her sister, and abduction of her three children in Village of Mamaroneck’s Columbus Park around 3 pm on Saturday, September 18, ended early Monday morning with the apparent suicide of the perpetrator.

bonnerAccording to Detective Sergeant Robert Holland of the Village of Mamaroneck Police Department, Columbus Park was the mutually agreed upon meeting place for Clifford Bonner, 42, and his estranged wife, Michelle Bonner, 30, neither one of whom was living in Mamaroneck. Mr. Bonner showed up in the park on Saturday afternoon with the couple’s three children, Sheila, 12, Stacey, 9, and James, 7; Mrs. Bonner, who had been living in Mount Vernon, came with her half-sister, Candice Rampersad, 18, also from Mount Vernon. Police believe Mr. Bonner had been living in his van.

Following thirty minutes of arguing over marital difficulties, Mr. Bonner fatally shot his wife, then shot Ms. Rampersad, and left in the van with the three children.

Village of Mamaroneck Police issued an Amber Alert, the system set after the 1996 kidnap and murder of Amber Hagerman in 1996, to quickly alert law enforcement and the general public of a child’s abduction in order to help with the child’s safe recovery. (See: Amber Alert.)

Late Sunday night, Sgt. Holland received a call from Mr. Bonner's sister: Mr. Bonner had called, said the children were safe, said he was going to kill himself, then he hung up the phone. A short while later, the Village of Mamaroneck desk officer received a call with information of a single shot heard in the vicinity of the Mount Pleasant home of Mr. Bonner’s father, where police were conducting an extensive search. Mr. Bonner had dropped the children off with his father before running off. He is believed to have killed himself.

Since Monday, the Journal News, New York Times, New York Post and other media have reported extensively on the case and have delved into details of Mr. Bonner’s prior legal, emotional and marital difficulties and the way his family, probation, police and court systems dealt with his situation. Westchester County has already made changes in their interagency communication system and will be continuing to consider improvements.

As of Wednesday, September 22, the three children were in the care of Westchester County and Candice Rampersad remained on life support at Sound Shore Medical Center.



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