05/21/13 2:15pm

CARRIE MILLER PHOTO | Police investigate an armed robbery scene in Polish Town Monday night.

UPDATE (2:15 p.m.): The 33-year-old Riverhead man who allegedly attempted to rob an Osborn Avenue store Monday night faced a judge this afternoon, answering to two felony charges.

Nicholas Savino is charged with two counts of second-degree robbery after displaying what appeared to be a handgun at International Connection and demanding money about 8:45 p.m., police said.

Mr. Savino hit a store worker several times in the head, causing lacerations to the man’s face, prosecutors said during his arraignment in Riverhead Town court.

The worker was taken to Peconic Bay Medical Center for treatment of minor injuries, according to a release.

Two other workers subdued Mr. Savino until police arrived, prosecutors said in court. Visible cuts could be seen around Mr. Savino’s neck and face while in court this afternoon.

Justice Richard Ehlers granted an order of protection for the store workers involved in the incident.

Procesuters said Mr. Savino has been convicted of one felony and eight misdemeanors prior to the incident.

He also failed to appear in court on four separate occasions, prosecutors said.

Mr. Savino is being held on $300,000 bail.

Original Story: Less than 30 minutes after a shooting sent a Polish Town woman to a hospital Monday night, three employees at a store on nearby Osborn Avenue wrestled an armed robber to the ground in an unrelated incident.

Nicholas Savino, 33, of Riverhead displayed a handgun as he entered International Connection and demanded money of three employees there at about 8:45 p.m., police said. The three men quickly fought him off and held him down until police could arrive.

It was later learned the gun Mr. Savino used in the robbery was actually a BB pistol, police said.

Mr. Savino and one of the employees were taken to Peconic Bay Medical Center for treatment of minor injuries from the scuffle, police said.

A worker at the store, who did not give a name Monday night, said, “I’m just happy everyone is safe and we could all go home with our lives tonight.”

Mr. Savino is being held at police headquarters on two counts of second-degree robbery, police said. He is expected to be arraigned later Tuesday morning. He was previously arrested last February on a warrant related to a charge of petit larceny.


04/14/13 7:45am
04/14/2013 7:45 AM

JOHN NEELY PHOTO | A candlelight vigil against gun violence was held in Grangebel Riverfront Park in Riverhead Saturday night.

Calling for federal action against gun violence, a candlelight vigil took place Saturday night at Grangebel Riverfront Park in Riverhead.

The one-hour vigil, themed “We Have Not Forgotten,” was planned by Riverhead Organizing for Action, part of a national nonprofit that advocates for federal policies throughout the country.

It came after several incidents of gun violence that have hit close to home, including the death of Riverhead High School graduate Demitri Hampton, who was gunned down in his cousin’s Flanders home in January.


02/27/13 6:48am
02/27/2013 6:48 AM
CARRIE MILLER PHOTO | A bullet pierced the window of an East Avenue home Tuesday night.

CARRIE MILLER PHOTO | A bullet pierced the window of an East Avenue home Tuesday night.

Riverhead police believe the home two masked men fired bullets into Tuesday night was targeted, but the reason remains a mystery.

“For what reason, I don’t know,” said Riverhead police Sergeant Joseph Loggia.

Police are still searching for the two men they say shot at an East Avenue house in downtown Riverhead and then fled the area on foot.

CARRIE MILLER PHOTO | Several bullets pierced the windows, though no one was hurt.

CARRIE MILLER PHOTO | Several bullets pierced the windows, though no one was hurt.

The shooting occurred about 11:30 p.m. at 216 East Avenue, where two adults and three children ages 5, 12 and 15 were inside, police said.

Nobody was injured in the incident.

One of the masked men had also broken into the home, but nothing was reported stolen, Sgt. Loggia said.

A man believed to be the target took off on foot following the shooting.

“He did flee the house but I believe he fled for his own safety,” Sgt. Loggia said.

Police could not say if drugs were involved at this time, Sgt. Loggia said.

Investigators found shell casings on the ground outside the house, but a search for the individuals produced no results.

“We’ve solved crimes with less,” Sgt. Loggia said.

The blue house appears to be neatly cared for. Property records indicate it is owned by Tomasz Mejsak of Southold. Mr. Mejsak could not be located for comment.

“[The block] is changing,” said a man who described himself as a concerned neighbor, adding that he doesn’t let his teenage daughter play outside anymore. “It wasn’t a bad neighborhood before. ”

A man who identified himself as living in the targeted house, where a porch light was still on Wednesday morning, declined to comment.

Another neighbor described the head of the family that lives in the home as “a nice guy.”

“He takes good care of his kids,” he said.

The neighbor also complained about a drug epidemic in the area.

“It’s ridiculous,” he said. “They stand [and sell] right in the street.”

Anyone with information is asked to call Riverhead Police at (631) 727-4500.

The shooting comes two weeks after four suspects were arrested for shooting at a house on nearby Third Street.

The shooters in that incident will be arraigned in Suffolk County criminal court Wednesday.


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02/14/13 12:38pm

CARRIE MILLER PHOTO | Bullet holes in the window of a second-story apartment following a Wednesday night shooting in Riverhead.

The two families who live in the Riverhead house that was shot up in a Wednesday night drive-by shooting say they are searching for answers as they fear for their safety.

CARRIE MILLER PHOTO  |  A bullet grazed the ceiling and police cut a hole to investigate.

CARRIE MILLER PHOTO | A bullet grazed the ceiling and police cut a hole to investigate.

Wilmer Nunez said he was asleep with his wife on the second floor when bullets exploded through a wall and bedroom window, waking the couple up.

“I’ve been [in the U.S.] 14 years and this is the first time I’ve ever been scared like that,” Mr. Nunez said.

The couple has lived in the two-family Third Street house for three years, he said.

Members of a family that lives on the first floor of the home attended the Thursday morning arraignment of the four suspects in Town Justice Court.

A woman who lives on the first floor — the family requested their names not be published — said she was half asleep when her sister came into her room yelling, “Shots were fired! Shots were fired!”

Two bullets got caught in the steel door directly in front of where the sister was sitting in a chair, the woman said. A third bullet ripped through a linen closet on the first floor.

Two children, ages 8 and 10, the grandchildren of the woman, were also in the apartment at the time of the shooting.

“We work, we stay here, we keep to ourselves,” the woman said. “We don’t understand why this has happened.”

The family members on hand at the arraignment said they do not know the four suspects and that they were concerned to hear prosecutors say the suspects have possible gang affiliations.

The woman said faith in God is helping the family through the ordeal and they’re grateful the alleged perpetrators were caught so quickly.

“God had his eyes watching over my sister and her family,” she said.

When told the suspects had been arrested, Mr. Nunez said he “got goosebumps.”

Neither of the two families own the house, which is owned by Bagshaw Rentals of East Main Street.

“Both families have lived there for years and years and never had a police issue there,” said Sandra Hogan of Bagshaw Rentals.

The family that lives on the first floor moved in in 1994, she said.

“They think it’s a case of mistaken identity, but we don’t know,” Ms. Hogan said.


02/03/13 6:00am
02/03/2013 6:00 AM
A Bushmaster M-4 semi-automatic, similar to the one allegedly used in the Newtown school shootings last week.

A Bushmaster M-4 semi-automatic, similar to the one allegedly used in the Newtown school shootings.

So I have this old, rusty, single-shot, 20-gauge shotgun sitting in the corner of our bedroom, awaiting its fate.

What to do with it? Leave it where it lies, indefinitely? Attempt to melt it down in the burn barrel out back by the garage? (No, that would be against all sorts of laws, including those of nature.) Sell it through this newspaper’s classified ads? (No, can’t do that because the paper no longer accepts such ads, even for “antique” guns.) Or perhaps eBay? (No, “actual firearms” can’t be listed for sale there either.)

What to do with it? Hey, I have an idea: Why not encourage local police departments to implement gun buyback programs similar to those that have been so successful around the nation, particularly in the aftermath of the Newtown school massacre.

This is basically how they work: Police departments set a place and time where and when guns of any sort — from single-shot derringers small enough to fit into the palm of your hand to the sort of multi-round assault rifle used to mow down elementary school children in Connecticut — are turned in voluntarily, with no questions asked. Those turning in the guns are compensated — sometimes with cash, but more often with gift cards that can’t be used to buy another gun — and the unwanted guns are properly disposed of by the cops.

I very much doubt that buyback programs here would generate the quantity of guns produced in big city programs, if only because our populations are so much smaller by comparison. But any gun taken off the street is a gun that won’t figure in an accident or an act of violence, such as the tragic shooting in Flanders this weekend, and that’s a very good thing.

Skeptics routinely disparage them as “feel good” programs that do little to keep guns out of the hands of criminals and the criminally insane, but that’s not the only objective. As The Trenton (N.J.) Times editorialized after that city’s recent gun buyback program: “They represent an opportunity to safely dispose of old and malfunctioning firearms that could mean death in the hands of a child. We regulate the disposal of appliances, of paint, of outdated medication lest they spill destructive chemicals. It’s logical to be as conscientious about the clearing away of potentially deadly instruments.”

This week I have surveyed the chiefs of police in Southold, Riverhead and Shelter Island, asking them if they would support such a program in their towns, and I will let readers of this column know their responses as soon as I receive them. The Suffolk County Sheriff’s Department used to buy back guns, but that program was discontinued when the grant money dried up, according to the department’s public information office.

And time is wasting, as they say, with recent reports in this newspaper about unprecedented sales of guns and ammunition in the wake of the passage of New York State’s tough new Secure Ammunition and Firearms Enforcement Act.

Meanwhile, a reader of my December column on gun control has pledged $1,000 to help implement such a program in Southold Town. And depending on the response we receive from the police chiefs, the former Joan Giger Walker and I will pledge another $1,000.

I wonder how many other community members would be willing to make small pledges to get the guns off our streets.

And if you’re wavering on this question, please take to heart these words of ex-New York City policeman Howard Martin of Manorville, as quoted in this newspaper last week: “Behind every tree, every window, every door there is a gun. It is the one thing that keeps America free.”

And bloody.

01/10/13 4:27pm
01/10/2013 4:27 PM

“The National Rifle Association of America is made up of over 4 million moms and dads, daughters and sons, who are involved in the national conversation about how to prevent a tragedy like Newtown from ever happening again.  We attended today’s White House meeting to discuss how to keep our children safe and were prepared to have a meaningful conversation about school safety, mental health issues, the marketing of violence to our kids and the collapse of federal prosecutions of violent criminals.

“We were disappointed with how little this meeting had to do with keeping our children safe and how much it had to do with an agenda to attack the Second Amendment.  While claiming that no policy proposals would be “prejudged,” this Task Force spent most of its time on proposed restrictions on lawful firearms owners – honest, taxpaying, hardworking Americans.  It is unfortunate that this Administration continues to insist on pushing failed solutions to our nation’s most pressing problems. We will not allow law-abiding gun owners to be blamed for the acts of criminals and madmen. Instead, we will now take our commitment and meaningful contributions to members of congress of both parties who are interested in having an honest conversation about what works – and what does not.”

Source: Media statement from the NRA.

01/09/13 11:59pm
01/09/2013 11:59 PM

An argument over $60 caused a Riverhead man to fire one shot from a 20-gauge shotgun in the direction of the man he was bickering with on East Main Street Wednesday afternoon, according to a Riverhead Town police press release.

William Beisler, 30, of Daly Court fired the shot shortly before 4 p.m., after he and Michelle Terrasi, 32, of Doctors Path got into an argument with 21-year-old Miguel Rojas Decker of East Main Street, police said.

Mr. Decker told police that Mr. Beisler pointed the firearm in his direction and fired one shot, but did not strike him. After police arrived on the scene, the gun was located in Ms. Terrasi’s vehicle.

Mr. Beisler was charged with second-degree reckless endangerment and second-degree menacing, along with a gun possession charge.

No other arrests were made in the incident and no injuries were reported.

12/24/12 2:26pm

WHAM COURTESY PHOTO | The scene of a the fire Monday morning in Webster, N.Y., where two fire fighters were shot and killed and three other emergency responders were injured.

Reports that two firefighters were killed and two more were injured along with a police officer after a gunman shot them at the scene of a fire in upstate Webster came as particularly troubling news to local first responders this Christmas Eve.

“It’s especially bizarre because of this time of year,” said Southold police chief Martin Flatley. “There’s usually a lot of anger directed toward police officers because they make arrests and write tickets, but firefighters’ dealings with the public are usually to save lives, so that’s very unfortunate. ”

The shooting, which occurred after the fire was reported at 5:45 a.m., comes just 10 days after a gunman in Connecticut left 20 children and six adults dead at Sandy Hook Elementary School. It marks the fourth mass shooting in the U.S. this month.

Police in Webster, which is more than 400 miles from here in Rochester, say they believe the fire was intentionally set by the shooter.

“Volunteer firefighters and police officers were injured and two were taken from us as they once again answered the call of duty,” Governor Andrew Cuomo said in a statement Monday.

The news hit close to home for volunteer firefighters like Dennis Hamill  an ex-chief in Riverhead, who said the shooting puts local volunteers on high alert.

“We in Riverhead very rarely ever have had any trouble with people threatening our lives or any kind of violence,” said Mr. Hammill, chairman of Riverhead’s Board of Fire Commissioners. “But you just have to be very, very aware.

“You always have to keep it in the back of your mind. We have no answers for Connecticut. We can’t see in people’s heads. You just have to be aware of your circumstances.”

Chief Flatley said it was once common for NYPD officers to be dispatched to fire scenes specifically to protect firefighters at the scene in the rougher neighborhoods of New York City, but that’s not something done on the North Fork.

“There used to be random violence against firefighters in bad neighborhoods [in NYC],” he said. “But we’ve never had anything like that happen out here.”

Jim Lessard, an ex-chief in Mattituck, said Monday’s shooting strengthens the argument for stricter gun laws in America.

“At this point after what happened in Connecticut, as the president has indicated, something needs to be done,” Mr. Lessard said Monday. “I don’t care what the NRA says about the constitution. Slavery used to be in the constitution.”

On Friday, National Rifle Association president Wayne LaPierre called for more guns in the wake of last week’s shooting, proposing to put an armed guard in all schools to protect students and staff.

“To hell with the NRA, let’s fix these laws and enforce them,” Mr. Lessard said.