'Palm Sunday Massacre' Gunman Released From Prison 34 Years After Killing 2 Mothers and 8 Children

Playing Man Convicted of Killing 10 in 1984 'Palm Sunday Massacre' Released From Prison

A New York man convicted of killing 10 people — eight of them children — during a horrific 1984 shooting in Brooklyn has been released from prison, InsideEdition.com has exclusively learned.

Christopher Thomas, 68, was convicted in 1985 of what later became known as the “Palm Sunday Massacre." At the time it was the deadliest mass shooting in New York City history.

Thomas opened fire on the family in the East New York section of Brooklyn on April 15, 1984. He shot and two women and eight children. One infant survived. 

Ballistic evidence, as well as witness testimony, placed Thomas at the scene of the crime. 

Bo Dietl, the NYPD officer who arrested Thomas, was outraged to hear of his release from prison. 

“I can’t believe that 10 souls can never be alive again – eight children – and he's out,” Dietl fumed to Inside Edition. “Where is the justice for those kids? Where is the justice? They will never have another Easter. He is allowed to go free and enjoy himself. That is not right."

He was arrested in June 1984 and prosecutors claimed that “jealousy and greed'' drove him to kill, saying that Thomas had a falling out with Enrique Bermudez, who owned the East New York home, over drug deals. 

In addition, authorities said Thomas believed Bermudez was having an affair with his wife. 

Thomas’ lawyer argued that his client had a cocaine addiction and was suffering from depression over his marital problems.

The jury found Thomas guilty of manslaughter instead of murder because they believed he acted without full responsibility due to drug use. 

''It is this court's intention that you serve every day, every hour and every minute of the minimum sentence I impose on you,'' said New York State Supreme Court Justice Ronald Aiello told Thomas during his sentencing. '''Don't let him out.' That is my message to the New York State Parole Board. Your judgment day today is on earth. Your next judgment day will be with the good Lord.

"Today is a piece of cake, Mr. Thomas, compared to your final judgment day.''

Thomas was sentenced to eight and one-third to 25 years in prison on each of 10 counts of first-degree manslaughter. Aiello ordered the sentences to run consecutively for a total of 83 to 250 years. However, under state law, he would spend no more than 50 years behind bars. 

Christopher Thomas Then and Now
Left, Thomas is seen during his trial (Courtesy of The Courtroom Sketches of Ida Libby Dengrove, University of Virginia Law Library) and right, his mug shot ahead of his release this year (New York State Parole Board)

In January 2018, Thomas was released from the Shawangunk Correctional Facility in upstate New York on a conditional release, meaning he has served two-thirds of his full term.

He will remain on parole until June 6, 2034. At that time, he will be 84 years old. 

Thomas first became eligible for parole in May 2009 and has been denied a total of five times, most recently in February 2017. 

According to the New York State Parole Board, Thomas is living in Queens, N.Y., and reports to a Manhattan parole office. 

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