MANHASSET, N.Y. (CBSNewYork) – The search for the shooter who wounded the owner of Long Island’s Oheka Castle continues as the victim recovers at the hospital.
Gary Melius’ wounds are not considered life-threatening, WCBS 880 Long Island Bureau Chief Mike Xirinachs reported.
He underwent successful surgery Monday and was alert and in stable condition.
“I was there after he came out of surgery,” his friend and attorney Ronald J. Rosenberg told 1010 WINS’ Mona Rivera. “From the reports that I understand the doctors have given, things have gone as well as can humanly be expected.”
“From the bottom of my heart I will be forever grateful to the people who have offered prayers and best wishes, to the doctors who worked on me and, most of all, to my family who are clearly made of very strong stuff,” Melius said in a statement issued via his family. “I look forward to coming home. I look forward to getting back to work. And I look forward to welcoming families and friends who come to Oheka for its hospitality and warmth. God Bless you all.”
Melius was getting into his car at the valet area of the Gold Coast estate when he was shot at point blank range in the head, CBS 2’s Jennifer McLogan reported.
The call of shots fired came in around 12:30 p.m. on Monday, police said.
“We don’t have a motive at this point, it’s part of the investigation. There were no immediate eyewitnesses,” Suffolk County Police Det. Sgt. John O’Sullivan told Xirinachs. “All video cameras are being reviewed right now by our electronic investigation unit. All descriptions of all vehicles that were reported to us are being part of the investigation.”
The suspect’s weapon appeared to jam and he fled in a vehicle after carrying out what friends are calling an assassination attempt, McLogan reported. Police said the shooting was targeted.
CBS 2 has learned it was all caught on surveillance video but lead investigators said that police would not be releasing the surveillance video, nor would they give details on the fleeing vehicle on Tuesday afternoon.
Sources also said that a second vehicle may have been blocking the entrance at the time of the shooting. Police have been reviewing video from the Jericho Turnpike and setting up checkpoints in their search for suspects.
Cops have been stationed as a protective measure at North Shore University Hospital in Manhasset, where Melius is recovering.
Police cruisers were also blocking the roadway leading up to Oheka Castle on Tuesday. Officers were asking drivers if they saw or heard anything that could lead them to the gunman, WCBS 880’s Sophia Hall reported.
Oheka Castle has become a celebrity wedding venue, hosting the nuptials of then-Rep. Anthony Weiner and Huma Abedin and Kevin Jonas of the Jonas Brothers, among others. It also hosts charity events.
The castle is known as a hangout of power brokers of all political persuasions including former U.S. Sen. Alfonse D’Amato (R-N.Y.) and current Rep. Peter King (R-N.Y.).
D’Amato said he was supposed to have lunch with Melius Monday afternoon. On Tuesday, he released the following statement:
“Thank you for all your thoughts and concern about my good friend Gary Melius. He remains stable, but is in good spirits, is resting comfortably and is recovering, surrounded by his family and friends. He is thankful for the grace of God that saved his life and is grateful for your prayers and good wishes.”
“Gary’s the nicest person, he’s done so much, restored the castle. It’s just a shock,” neighbor Deborah Bryggman said.
Melius is a political patron of both sides of the aisle and is active with his wife in charity work.
“He’s a gentleman who spreads love and wealth to everybody, no matter who you are,” Edward Gumbs of the Shinnecok Indian nation said.
Some sources have said that Melius may have been involved in contentious, even viscous political battles, CBS 2’s Carolyn Gusoff reported.
But party leaders said that politics isn’t that rough.
“We have been on the same side and on different sides and we have been on opposing sides, but what happened to him transcended politics and was awful and I don’t think politics played any part in this,” Nassau County Democratic Chairman Jay Jacobs said.
But after a lifetime of business, some said he’d undoubtedly made enemies, McLogan reported.
In recent years, Oheka has faced financial struggles.
After defaulting on a loan a year ago, Melius negotiated a mortgage modification in August, according to public records.
The investigation into the shooting is still ongoing.
Anyone with information is asked to the Suffolk County Police Second Squad at 631-854-8252 or anonymously to Crime Stoppers at 1-800-220-TIPS. All calls will be kept confidential.
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