NEW YORK (CBSNewYork) — The owner of Oheka Castle on Long Island was fighting for his life Monday afternoon, after being shot in front of the landmark chateau.
As CBS 2’s Jennifer McLogan reported, he was apparently in the driveway of the massive Huntington estate on bluffs along the Long Island Sound, when someone came along and gunned him down. The shooting occurred around 12:30 p.m., 1010 WINS’ Mona Rivera reported.
Prominent Long Islander Gary Melius, 69, was rushed to the hospital by family members after being shot. He is expected to recover.
He was described by police as “very lucky to be alive,” 1010 WINS reported.
Melius was believed to be the victim of a targeted robbery. CBS 2 has learned a masked gunman was seen on surveillance video fleeing the scene.
Melius was wounded in the head in the shooting, which had no eyewitnesses, WCBS 880 Long Island Bureau Chief Mike Xirinachs reported.
“As best we can determine at this point, he was entering his vehicle,” said Suffolk County police Detective Sgt. John O’Sullivan. “We don’t have a motive at this point. It’s part of the investigation.”
Police said the gunman may have had a problem with his gun and thus did not complete his crime.
“A thorough search of the grounds was conducted by our canine unit, our aviation unit, and the Second Precinct Patrol immediately saturated the neighborhood,” O’Sullivan said.
Melius was in surgery as of late Monday afternoon at Syosset Hospital/North Shore-LIJ Health System. He was reported in stable condition late Monday, CBS 2’s Hazel Sanchez reported.
“Before going in, he was alert and conscious, and the investigation is in its preliminary stages,” O’Sullivan said.
Melius and his wife live in the French-style chateau on Long Island’s Gold Coast, with their Labrador, Otto. The dog is named after philanthropist and industrialist Otto Kahn, who built the chateau in the Gatsby era of the roaring 1920s.
Between frequent wedding parties and charity events, Oheka Castle is known as a hangout of power brokers of all political persuasions, from former U.S. Sen. Alfonse D’Amato (R-N.Y.) and current Rep. Peter King (R-N.Y.) to former U.S. Rep. and mayoral candidate Anthony Weiner — and even the Jonas Brothers.
The castle is, in fact, where Weiner and Huma Abedin married in July 2010.
D’Amato said he was supposed to have lunch with Melius on Monday afternoon.
From his working class roots, Melius made shrewd investments just before the real estate boom of the 1980s, allowing him to buy Oheka Castle — then in a state of much disrepair. He sold it to a Japanese businessman for $22 million, then bought it back again, regaining full ownership 10 years ago.
It has now been turned into a full -service event hall — attracting guests from around the world.
“He’s done so much; restored the castle,” one area woman said.
Melius recently bragged he has poured $40 million into the 23-acre plot – hosting famous cigar-filled poker games and Super Bowl parties, where he recently served top-shelf liquor alongside White Castle hamburgers.
Melius has many admirers, but critics said he has made waves as he became a wealthy tycoon.
“Gary’s the nicest person; he is just a really nice guy in this neighborhood, the woman said.
Police said they do not know why Melius was targeted.
Back in the Roaring ’20s when the 170-room castle was constructed, it became a legendary party home to Hollywood legends, European royalty, and the backdrop of famous films — including “Citizen Kane.”
Oheka Castle claims to be the second largest private residence ever built in America.
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