Months before a Bronx man allegedly stabbed four relatives to death at a home in Far Rockaway on Sunday and was fatally shot by police responding to the scene, he refused help for severe mental health issues identified by his family, his aunt and cousin said Monday.
Bronx resident Lillian McKoy said her nephew Courtney Gordon — the 38-year-old police named as the suspect in the grisly domestic slaying at 467 Beach 22nd St. — exhibited alarming behavior earlier this year, leading his mother and sister to reach out to mental health professionals to take him into treatment.
“But he, in turn, reversed it and began to tell them they’re the ones that need help, he is fine,” McKoy said in the living room of her Eastchester apartment. “He refused to go.”
Officers responding to a 911 call around 5 a.m. Sunday found Gordon exiting the Far Rockaway home with luggage, and when they approached him, he stabbed two of them with a knife, according to the NYPD. One of the officers then shot Gordon, who later died from his injuries, police said.
The victims had not been identified as of early Monday afternoon. They included an 11-year-old girl, a 12-year-old boy, a 44-year-old woman and a man in his 30s — all deceased — as well as a 61-year-old woman with multiple stab wounds who remained in critical condition at a hospital, according to an NYPD spokesperson.
The injured officers were transported to a hospital and were expected to recover, the police union said Sunday.
McKoy said Gordon had stayed at her apartment for a few months this past year and she sometimes feared for her safety around her nephew, who became easily enraged. “I just did not like his demeanor, the way he looked at me and the attitude,” she added. “If someone resents you that much, you don’t know what will happen.”
She said she had opened her home to Gordon because her sister — Gordon’s mother — was already living there. According to McKoy, he had been living elsewhere with his wife and young son, but his marriage unraveled within the past few years and he was struggling to find housing.
McKoy said she eventually noticed concerning behavior from her nephew: He would walk off his job during the workday, was prone to snapping at family members and liked to listen to music about guns and killing.
“It was not the same person I knew when he just [came] from Jamaica,” she said, recalling how Gordon seemed normal and “jolly” when he first arrived in New York about 15 years ago.
About five years ago, Gordon got married, had a child, and was working at a BJ’s store, said McCoy. She said he would regularly visit his mom, along with his son, and attend cookouts and other family events.
Police said Gordon was previously arrested in the Bronx for domestic violence strangulation, but the District Attorney’s office could not comment on the case as it was sealed in 2021. Gothamist was not immediately able to reach Gordon’s ex-wife Monday.
McKoy said she asked Gordon to move out of her apartment after he demanded she remove security cameras she had installed around her home.
He then bounced around, living at homeless shelters before his aunt on his father’s side, Christine Watson, offered to take him in at her home in Far Rockaway, per McKoy. Gordon was at Watson’s home for about two weeks before police received a chilling 911 call Sunday morning from a child who said her cousin “was killing her family.”
McKoy said she found out about the killings when her niece — Gordon’s sister — called her frantically.
“I was just devastated,” McKoy said, noting the incident hit home because her nephew had just been living with her weeks earlier. “He was living here … and then he went there, and they were helping him, and this is what happened.”
Sean McKoy, Lillian’s son, said he would try to reason with Gordon — to little avail — during the months they lived together in Eastchester, but never thought his cousin would be the suspect in a multiple homicide.
“I’ve known him for so long that I wouldn’t think that he would resort to that kind of violence,” he said, adding that he was shaken by the killings.
His mother Lillian, who works with adults with mental disabilities, cautioned families to try to help loved ones who show signs of drastic behavioral changes.
“Do it, because you never know what tomorrow’s [going to] hold for you,” she said. “Countless families [are] in mourning, being destroyed, because their loved one did not get the help they need.”
Andrew Giambrone contributed reporting.