Southampton Man Convicted of 2019 Murder on the Shinnecock Reservation

Michael Gaines. Independent/Pitt County Sheriff’s department
Michael Gaines. Independent/Pitt County Sheriff’s department

Suffolk County District Attorney Raymond A. Tierney announced today that a Southampton man has been convicted by a jury of one count of murder and two counts of burglary for the 2019 shooting death of Mtundu Vanterpool on the Shinnecock Reservation.

“With the jury’s verdict, the family and loved ones of Mr. Vanterpool are able to get some small measure of justice for his brutal slaying, and the defendant will now be held responsible for committing the heinous act of taking a life,” DA Tierney said. “I commend the hard working prosecutors of my office and thank the jury for their service ensuring the defendant is no longer a threat to society, and thank the jury for their service.”

Michael Gaines, 44, was convicted today following a three-week jury trial before Suffolk County Court Judge Timothy Mazzei.

The defendant is scheduled to be sentenced on March 7. He faces up to life in prison.

According to the evidence presented at trial, on August 16, 2019, five hours before the murder, Gaines attacked Vanterpool at a gas station in Holtsville and then fled on foot. Mr. Vanterpool then returned home to the Shinecock Reservation and went to sleep next to his fiancé. Shortly before 6 a.m., Gaines broke into the home, burst into the couple’s bedroom and shot Mr. Vanterpool three times in the abdomen before fleeing the scene.

Mr. Vanterpool’s fiancé immediately made a dramatic 911 call to police and made heroic efforts to save Mr. Vanterpool, who ultimately died in her arms.

Gaines was apprehended two days later in Pitt County, North Carolina.

Principal Assistant District Attorney Francis Schroeder of the Felony Offense Bureau, Violent Crime Unit, and Senior Assistant District Attorney William Richards III of the Felony Offense Bureau, Major Crimes Unit, prosecuted the case.

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