Police Seek ‘Neutral-Colored’ SUV In Oheka Castle Shooting
MINEOLA, N.Y. (CBSNewYork/AP) – Police on Long Island said they are looking for a “neutral-colored” SUV as part of their investigation into the shooting at Oheka Castle.
A Suffolk County police spokeswoman said no suspects have been identified in Monday’s shooting.
The owner of the high-end hotel and catering hall, 69-year-old Gary Melius, was wounded by a gunshot to his head as he was getting into his car in the valet area of the Gold Coast estate in Huntington.
“We don’t have a motive at this point, it’s part of the investigation,” Suffolk County Police Det. Sgt. John O’Sullivan said Tuesday. “There were no immediate eyewitnesses.”
CBS 2 has learned surveillance video of the ordeal shows three shots fired at point blank range, but the gun misfired.
“They came in through the rear valet entrance. Someone must have known his routine, knew he went to lunch at 12 o’clock, waiting for him and ambushed him,” friend Harry Oates told CBS 2’s Jennifer McLogan.
Sources also said that a second vehicle may have been blocking the entrance at the time of the shooting.
Police said the bullet did not penetrate Melius’ skull. They said he went into shock and could not recall details about the attack.
Friends told McLogan he had minor surgery on his eye and suffered temporary loss of hearing, but is bouncing back and confident that Suffolk police and the district attorney will bring the shooter to justice.
“If this near-death experience has done anything it is a reminder to live each day, celebrate life and embrace your family. I happen to be blessed with a very, very large extended family who rallied to my side during the past 24 hours,” Melius said in a statement Tuesday. “God bless you all.”
Detectives are looking into Melius’ personal and professional dealings. On Tuesday, officers set up a checkpoint near the shooting scene.
CBS 2 was there Wednesday as Melius’ friends and colleagues gathered at a local radio station to pay tribute to the philanthropist after visiting him in the hospital.
“I was just at his recent Super Bowl party. His personality is all over the place. He had high-end liquor at one end, and he had White Castle coming out,” friend Mattew Goldapper told McLogan.
Oheka Castle has become a celebrity wedding venue, hosting the nuptials of former Rep. Anthony Weiner and Huma Abedin and Kevin Jonas of the Jonas Brothers, among others. It also hosts charity events.
The castle is also known as a hangout of power brokers of all political persuasions, including former U.S. Sen. Alfonse D’Amato and current Rep. Peter King.
Melius is celebrated as a philanthropist and also has donated hundreds of thousands to politicians.
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.
Suffolk County District Attorney Thomas Spota visited Melius in the hospital Wednesday to update him on the investigation.
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