Articles by

Grant Parpan and Paul Squire

02/24/13 5:44pm

NEWS-REVIEW FILE PHOTO | A police car at the scene of the May 30, 1993 shooting incident that led to the death of Alvin McElroy Jr.

Nearly 20 years after the shooting incident that led to the death of a Persian Gulf veteran, one of two men convicted in his killing could be headed back to prison.

David Brown, 37, of Flanders was arrested on drug charges Saturday night following a traffic stop on East Main Street, Riverhead Town Police said. The bust comes less than six months after he was paroled on Sept. 14, following 17 years in prison for killing Alvin Charles McElroy Jr., state parole records show.

Alvin Charles McElroy Jr.

Mr. Brown had been living in Riverhead before he was convicted of manslaughter in connection with Mr. McElroy’s death in May 1995 and sentenced to a minimum of nine years in prison. He was later convicted of attempted promotion of prison contraband and was not released until last September, state records show. His release came nine years after he was first elegible for parole, but 11 years before his maximum sentence of 28 years was to expire.

Mr. Brown’s cousin, Edward Jackson of Flanders, who was 19 years old at the time of the shooting, was also convicted of manslaughter in connection with Mr. McElroy’s death and was released from prison in 2010 after serving 15 years, state parole records show.

The shooting incident occurred after a group of as many as 10 young men, including Mr. Brown and Mr. Jackson, confronted Mr. McElroy on Phillips Street near Route 25 about 8 p.m. on Sunday, May 30, 1993, according to previously published reports in the News-Review and Newsday. Several shots were fired and Mr. McElroy was struck four times in the head and legs. It was the third shooting reported in Riverhead that day, after two other incidents occurred earlier that morning.

Mr. McElroy, a 22-year-old father of three, spent the last eight months of his life in a coma before dying at Hilltop Manor Rehabilitation Center in Niskanyuna, N.Y. on Feb. 1, 1994, according to a story published in the News-Review at the time of his death. He was the son of Rev. A. Charles McElroy Sr. of Friendship Baptist Church in Riverhead, who presided over his funeral.

The death of a preacher’s son sent shockwaves through Riverhead Town, Newsday reported at the time.

Rev. McElroy said during the funeral that his son had brushes with the law and had disputes with the alleged gunmen in the weeks leading up to the shooting, according to a Newsday report.

GRANT PARPAN PHOTO | Alvin McElroy Jr.’s grave at Calverton National Cemetery. One of the men convicted in his killing was arrested again Sunday on drug charges.

“He was offered everything, a good home, a good environment and education,” Rev. McElroy said of his son. “Raising a child today is a high risk. He encountered the demonic forces of his time.”

Mr. Brown was a suspect in the shooting soon after police began their investigation, but he was not located until he attempted to run from the scene of a traffic stop in September 1993. After a foot pursuit, Mr. Brown, who was wanted on a warrant issued by Suffolk County Police, was detained by Riverhead police officer James Wooten, according to a story published in the News-Review at the time of his arrest.

Mr. Wooten, now a town councilman, said that after he saw Mr. Brown, who was 18 at the time of his arrest, run up Fifth Street, he knew exactly where he was headed.

“I took off running to St. John’s [Church] and he ran right into my arms,” Mr. Wooten recalled in an interview Sunday.

“The guy did 17 years as a young man and he had a chance to turn his life around. It’s crazy,” he said. “I’m glad he’s off the street though. He spent most of his adult life in jail and he didn’t learn a thing from the sound of it.”

Mr. Brown was charged with three counts of criminal possession of a controlled substance, criminal possession of drug paraphernalia and criminal possession of marijuana, police said following his 2 a.m. arrest Sunday. Also charged in the incident was 25-year-old Michael Bambrick of Riverhead.

The two men were in possession of more than four ounces of cocaine, more than eight ounces of marijuana, 10 packets of PCP and a digital scale, according to a report on riverheadlocal.com, which covered the arraignment Sunday morning.

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02/11/13 3:01pm
PAUL SQUIRE PHOTO | Wading River Fire Department volunteers stand near debris at the scene of  Thursday night's crash.

PAUL SQUIRE PHOTO | Wading River Fire Department volunteers stand near debris at the scene of Thursday night’s crash.

Update: Services have been scheduled for John Hyte, 52,  of Wading River, who was struck by a car and killled on Route 25A Thursday evening.

A visitation is being held at 2 to 4 p.m. and again at 7 to 9 p.m. today, Monday, at Alexander-Tuthill Funeral home at 6447 Route 25A in Wading River, with a prayer service at 10:30 a.m. Tuesday at the funeral home. Internment will follow at Calverton National Cemetery.

Mr. Hyte, 52, was struck by a green Subaru Outback driven eastbound by Anthony Simonetti, 71, of Riverhead at the intersection of Route 25A and Littleleaf Court in Wading River about 5:50 p.m. last Thursday, police said.

Mr. Hyte was walking in the eastbound travel lane at the time he was struck, police said. No charges were filed.

John Hyte

Wading River firefighters and ambulance volunteers transported Mr. Hyte to Peconic Bay Medical Center, where he was pronounced dead, police said.

The Wading River Fire Department originally planned to set up a landing zone to have a Suffolk County police helicopter airlift Mr. Hyte, but a medic at the scene decided to take him by ground to the hospital, according to officials at the scene.

Police closed Route 25A in both directions as they investigated the accident, police said.

Any witnesses to the crash are being asked to call detectives at 727-4500 ext. 326.

02/11/13 6:45am

BARBARAELLEN KOCH PHOTO | The snow that filled the streets of Riverhead Saturday will be replaced with heavy rain Monday.

A freezing rain advisory has been lifted for Long Island Monday morning, but the rain should continue on the East End into the evening, according to the National Weather Service in Upton.

“It doesn’t look to be as significant as the last system that moved through here,” said Joe Picca, a meteorologist at the National Weather Service station in Upton.

Some roads already prone to flooding might see large puddles from Monday’s rain, but there is little threat of “significant” flooding, Mr. Picca said.

The wet weather is not the only  factor in what could be a tricky morning commute Monday, as roads remain icy and plows work to continue clearing roadways.

The view from the overpass at Exit 73 in Riverhead showed a clear road Sunday afternoon, but it wasn’t until 7 a.m. Monday that traffic was fully open in both directions.

Route 25 is in decent shape across the North Fork.

01/27/13 2:00pm

TRACEY CRUMP COURTESY PHOTO | Demetri Hampton celebrates receiving his diploma from Riverhead High School during the school’s 2010 graduation ceremony. Mr. Hampton was killed Sunday after confronting burglars in his home.

A beloved Riverhead High graduate was killed early Sunday morning when he was shot in the chest as he tried to confront burglars who had broken into his Flanders home, Suffolk County police said.

The shooting occurred shortly after 3 a.m., when an undisclosed number of men broke in through the front of the Priscilla Ave. home, where Demitri Hampton was present along with several other people, according to Lt. Jack Fitzpatrick, commander of the Suffolk County Homicide Squad.

A struggle ensued after Mr. Hampton, 21, attempted to confront the burglars.

“There was a struggle and he was shot during the struggle,” Lt. Fitzpatrick said.

The men quickly fled the scene and Mr. Hampton was pronounced dead a short time later at Peconic Bay Medical Center.

The incident was reported to police through a 911 call saying “armed men had broken into the home and shot a man.”

PAUL SQUIRE PHOTO | A mobile command post in front of Demitir Hampton's home on Priscilla Ave. in Flanders, where police say the 21-year-old was shot and killed by armed burglars early Sunday morning.

PAUL SQUIRE PHOTO | A mobile command post near Demitir Hampton’s home on Priscilla Ave. in Flanders, where police say the 21-year-old was shot and killed by armed burglars early Sunday morning.

For hours after the shooting, Priscilla Avenue remained closed off by police tape at the Wood Trail intersection. County Homicide detectives are asking anyone with information to call (631) 852-6392 or anonymously to Crime Stoppers at (800) 220-TIPS. All calls will be kept confidential, police said.

As of 2 p.m. police said they had no updates in the investigation.

Sayra Alvarez, who lives on the second floor of a nearby house, said she heard what sounded like people running in the snow. She then heard a car door slam and a car speed away.

“Then when I saw the cops, I thought something must’ve happened, something’s not right,” she said. “It’s very shocking for us.”

Several of Mr. Hampton’s other neighbors said Sunday morning that they didn’t hear the shots and were surprised to wake up to the crime scene on Priscilla Avenue.

“I went to sleep late, but didn’t hear anything,” said neighbor Alfonso Gonzalez. “It’s very quiet, this area.”

FACEBOOK PHOTO | Demitri Hampton in his profile picture on Facebook.com.

FACEBOOK PHOTO | Demitri Hampton in his profile picture on Facebook.com.

A 2010 Riverhead High School graduate, Mr. Hampton had worked in Baiting Hollow as a valet at Giorgio’s, according to his Facebook page, which was filled with comments from mourners expressing their disbelief over the loss of their “sweet and funny” friend.

Former classmate Michael Hejmej said Sunday morning that Mr. Hampton was a “great kid.”

“He was quick to make you laugh,” he said.  “Hard working, fun to be around. He never said a bad thing to anyone.”

Another classmate, Marcus Santana, said Mr. Hampton impacted many people’s lives.

“He was a great friend that would keep a smile on your face,” he said.

Neighbors also described Mr. Hampton as someone who liked to laugh and could often be found playing basketball. He played on the Blue Waves basketball team and was a fan of the Miami Heat.

One neighbor, who identified himself as “Hobbs,” said he and Mr. Hampton were on a dance crew together that would “battle” other dance crews.

“I never expected it to happen to him,” he said. “He never did anything to anybody.”

Both a wake and funeral service will be held Saturday morning, according to Brockett Funeral Home in Southampton, which is handling the arrangements.

The services will be held at Galiee First Church of God in Christ on 87 Old Quogue Rd. in Riverhead.

The wake is set for 10 a.m., with a funeral mass at 11 a.m. Burial will follow at Southampton Cemetery.

We will continue to update this story throughout the day as more information and reaction becomes available.

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01/20/13 11:20pm

GRANT PARPAN PHOTO | Two people were injured after a man crashed into the CVS in Wading River twice Sunday night.

A 78-year-old man crashed through Wading River CVS twice Sunday night, injuring himself and his wife as she walked out of the store, Riverhead Town police said.

Ronald Kucinski of Wading River was parked outside the store around 6 p.m. while waiting for his wife, Joan Kucinski, 74, to exit the store, police said.

Mr. Kucinski backed up at a high rate of speed in his 1997 Mercury and crashed through the brick facade at the northeast corner of the building, leaving a 5-by-5 foot hole in the building. He then put the car into drive and jumped a curb while pulling away, making a U-turn and crashing into the front entrance of the store. His wife was injured by  falling debris in the entranceway, police said.

An official at the scene said Mr. Kucinski had recently been released from the hospital and that alcohol was not involved in the accident. Police said late Sunday night that he appeared to get confused while behind the wheel and he panicked. No criminal charges are expected to be filed, according to police.

The Kucinckis, who were both transported by Wading River ambulance to Stony Brook University Hospital, suffered only minor injuries, police said.

Store employees declined to comment on the crash, saying only that they were glad nobody was seriously injured.

“We’re lucky for that,” the shift supervisor said.

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