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Ex-con who shot 2 NYPD cops rebranded himself as fitness guru after prison

Detectives on Bergen Street where two NYPD officers were shot, on Tuesday, Jan. 16, 2024, in New York. (Sam Costanza/New York Daily News/TNS)

A Brooklyn gunman accused of wounding two NYPD cops after bashing his mother is a muscle-bound ex-con who rebranded himself as a community do-gooder fitness guru after his release from prison, the Daily News has learned.

After being paroled for an attempted assault and robbery conviction, Melvin Butler, 39, changed his name to Gym Star and gave free fitness classes in his Brownsville neighborhood.

On Tuesday, cops were called to a home on Bergen St., where Butler had allegedly assaulted his mother, leaving her with a head injury, cops said.

Butler resisted arrest and a “violent struggle” broke out, NYPD Chief of Detectives Joseph Kenny said at a news conference Tuesday.

As the officers brawled with Butler on the ground, he grabbed a gun from one of the cops and pulled the trigger, striking one officer in the hand and the other in the thigh, police said.

“He has my gun!” one of the officers’ yelled, according to body-worn camera footage reviewed by the NYPD.

One of the officers returned fire, hitting Butler in the stomach and leg.

Butler remained hospitalized Wednesday, cops said. Criminal charges were pending against him.

After his incarceration, Butler changed his name to Gym Star and began inspiring local children to be “wellness ambassadors.”

He also ran a “mobile outreach vehicle” that sold freshly made juice drinks and made a video about it.

His efforts were lauded on News 12 Brooklyn. In that interview, Butler explained he changed his name to Gym Star “after doing 12 1/2 years in prison for a robbery I didn’t commit.”

Police said Butler was arrested for attempted murder in Flatbush, Brooklyn, in 2004 but was ultimately convicted of attempted assault and robbery two years later.

He was released in 2017 and remained on parole until 2020, according to state Department of Corrections records.

“Gym” stands for “Great Young Minds,” he told News 12, explaining how he hoped to empower the youth in his community through fitness.

“I just knew that I didn’t want to be forgotten,” Butler explained when asked why he changed his name. “Something that is so positive that no one would ever forget about me ever.”

“People still slam the door in my face to this day, but I’m still knocking,” he added. “As soon as they open the door, I’m putting my foot in the door.”

Since 2021, cops have been called to his home six times to diffuse domestic disputes, police sources said. Many of the fights were with his mother.

“It’s always an argument between mother and her son,” neighbor Nova Fuller told the Daily News Tuesday.

Just before the shooting, Butler screamed, ‘”Remember what you said to me yesterday? I am not going back to jail!” Fuller recalled.

Butler was arrested twice last year, one for misdemeanor assault connected to a domestic violence incident.

He was wearing an ankle monitor during Tuesday’s shooting, police sources said.

The shot cops were taken to Kings County Hospital, where they were treated and released. One of the wounded officers has been with the NYPD for more than nine years and the other has been with the department for 16 years.

“Because of the swift actions of the two police officers who were involved and the responding officers, those officers will be going home,” Mayor Adams said Tuesday.


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