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"A good player hides his hand, Frank. We figured if there were enough dead bodies, nobody would really care to look close enough at any given one of 'em. It was a calculated risk."
Carson Wolf to Punisher[src]

The Massacre at Central Park was a mass shooting in Central Park planned by William Rawlins and Ray Schoonover in order to assassinate Frank Castle, making it appear as a sting operation gone wrong organized by Samantha Reyes.

However, Castle survived the massacre, while his wife, son, and daughter were murdered, which forced him to start the crusade to kill every single person involved in the massacre.


Operation Cerberus

"Your kids, at the park? Who cares? That's never what this has been about. It's about what happened with you. With all of us. Kandahar. You think they would ever let that go?"
Ray Schoonover to Punisher[src]

During the War in Afghanistan, William Rawlins teamed up to Ray Schoonover and launched the Operation Cerberus, with a goal to eliminate the terrorist groups in Afghanistan. Rawlins and Schoonover recruited Frank Castle, Billy Russo, Gunner Henderson, and several other United States Armed Forces soldiers into the Cerberus Squad, stationing them in Kandahar. However, since the Operation was illegal and unsanctioned by United States Congress or the CIA, Rawlins secretly established the smuggling of heroin from Afghanistan to the United States of America. Under Morty Bennett's supervision, the heroin was smuggled across the border inside the dead soldiers' bodies, and sold by Schoonover's subordinates.

William Rawlins briefs the Cerberus Squad

As the Operation progressed, the squad's activities were discovered by Ahmad Zubair who was going to testify to the Homeland Security. Cerberus Squad kidnapped Zubair before he could testify, so Rawlins tortured him in order to find out who else knew about Operation Cerberus. As soon Zubair told Rawlins that nobody knows about the Operation, except for him, Rawlins labeled Zubair as a terrorist and ordered Castle to execute him before burying his body in an unmarked grave. However, the interrogation was filmed by Henderson who decided to expose the Operation and Rawlins' illicit agenda.

Frank Castle violently attacks William Rawlins

Receiving the intel about the high-ranking terrorist leader, Rawlins ordered the Cerberus Squad to eliminate him, despite Castle's suspicions. However, the mission turned out to be an ambush, as several soldiers were killed in action by the insurgents, and Schoonover lost his arm. Castle then took a lead and took down multiple insurgents to clean up the evacuation area, so the rest of the squad was evacuated. Due to that ultimate failure, Operation Cerberus was shut down and the Cerberus Squad was demobilized.[2]

Information Leak

Micro leaking information on Cerberus Squad

"And Lieberman, what about Lieberman? Who's he?"
"We thought you were the one that sent him the tape."
Punisher and Carson Wolf[src]

Returning to the United States of America, Gunner Henderson sent the footage of Ahmad Zubair's execution to the NSA, in order to expose William Rawlins. The footage was received by David Lieberman who then sent it to Dinah Madani, so the Homeland Security could do something with it. Rawlins and Ray Schoonover discovered about the information leak, however, they assumed that Frank Castle was responsible for it, due to his constant insubordination.[3]

Using his contact within Homeland Security, Rawlins found out about Lieberman and ordered Carson Wolf to get rid of him. Wolf and several Homeland Security agents tracked down Lieberman and chased him through the city before shooting him in the chest, seemingly killing him. As Lieberman was taken down, Wolf and Rawlins accused him of domestic terrorism and wiped out every single mention of him from the press.[2]


"Never think that for her there was not gonna be any tomorrow, see. The last time I'd see her, I'd be holding her lifeless body in my arms. Meat was spilling out of her, Red. The place where her face used to be."
Punisher to Daredevil[src]

In order to eliminate the last witness, William Rawlins targeted Frank Castle who returned from Iraq to his family.[2] Rawlins and Schoonover contacted Billy Russo, asking him to shoot down Castle himself, and although Russo refused to participate, he did not stop them either.[4] Using his criminal persona "Blacksmith," Ray Schoonover organized a big drug deal at Central Park with the Kitchen Irish, Mexican Cartel, the Dogs of Hell, and Dutton, planning to use it as a cover. The District Attorney's office received intel about the meeting at the Park, so Samantha Reyes organized a sting operation to arrest the Blacksmith, however, she decided not to clean the area of civilians due to fear of showing their hand. Upon Reyes' orders, the NYPD officer infiltrated the gangs to update the DA's office about the situation.[5]

Frank Castle's family is killed in a gunfight

Together with Russo, Maria, Lisa, and Frank Castle, Jr., Castle went to Central Park as a family tradition. As soon as Russo left, the gangs arrived at the Park for a deal, waiting for the Blacksmith. When the Blacksmith failed to appear, the gangs grew suspicious and eventually figured out the undercover officer's true identity. Criminals then started a firefight, gunning down Maria, Lisa, Frank Jr. and the NYPD officer, while Castle was shot in the head.[6]


Frank Castle's War

"Anybody that had anything to do with what happened to Maria and the kids are dead. Mission accomplished."
Curtis Hoyle to Frank Castle[src]

Determined to protect her reputation, Samantha Reyes coerced Gregory Tepper to destroy the evidence and kept news of the massacre from leaking for a week. Also, Reyes placed a "do not resuscitate" order on Frank Castle in an attempt to ensure his death. However, Castle managed to wake up and forced George Bach to take him out of the hospital to the Castle Residence. Frustrated and broken due to the death of his family, Castle decided to find and kill every single one responsible for the shootings.[6]

Frank Castle explaining how his family died

Castle targeted the Kitchen Irish, the Dogs of Hell, and the Mexican Cartel for the involvement for shooting and started to eliminate all members of three gangs and other criminals along the way. During his killing spree, the Punisher had been confronted by the New York City Police Department and the District Attorney's office, as well as the Daredevil.[7] Eventually, the Punisher was arrested and then imprisoned in Ryker's Island after admitting his guilt during the trial.

With Wilson Fisk's assistance, Castle found Dutton who informed him about the Blacksmith who organized a drug deal, before Castle murdered Dutton. Due to his own motivations, Fisk released Castle from prison, so he could continue his crusade on the streets and find the Blacksmith.[6] Ray Schoonover then confronted the Punisher himself, killing Reyes and threatening to kill Karen Page, however, the Punisher successfully murdered Schoonover before leaving New York City and killing last survivors of the three gangs.[8]

Exposing the Real Agenda

"You could have ended it all that night. You didn't, and then they killed your family. You have to live with that. But this war that you're waging, I mean, come on. That's the U.S. military. That is the CIA."
Micro to Punisher[src]

With all members of the Kitchen Irish, the Dogs of Hell, and the Mexican Cartel eliminated, Frank Castle finished his anti-criminal crusade.[9] However, Castle was contacted by Micro who informed him that the massacre at Central Park was actually an assassination attempt, linked to his involvement in Operation Cerberus, as well as the murder of Ahmad Zubair.[3] Castle joined forces with Micro to find the man in charge of the Cerberus and take him down.[2]

Punisher brutally murders William Rawlins

Eventually, they discovered that Operation Cerberus was organized by William Rawlins who ordered to kill both Castle and Lieberman. Rawlins and Billy Russo confronted Castle personally, however, Russo betrayed Rawlins, allowing Castle to murder him.[4] Castle then defeated Russo, finally avenging the deaths of his family, while the Homeland Security and the CIA to change the narrative of the events, removing any charges against Castle.[10]


Appearances for Massacre at Central Park

In chronological order: