10/22/14 5:05pm
10/22/2014 5:05 PM
Southold shooting suspects (from left) Walter Vasquez, 17, of Greenport;  Pedro Emilio Santamaria, 31, of Greenport; and Jeremias Nathaniel Recinos Torres, 19, of Aquebogue are escorted by corrections officers into Southold Town Court Friday morning. The three were arraigned in Suffolk County court Wednesday. (Credit: Paul Squire)

Southold shooting suspects (from left) Walter Vasquez, 17, of Greenport; Pedro Emilio Santamaria, 31, of Greenport; and Jeremias Nathaniel Recinos Torres, 19, of Aquebogue are escorted by corrections officers into Southold Town Court Friday morning. The three were arraigned in Suffolk County court Wednesday. (Credit: Paul Squire)

A fifth man is currently being sought by police for his alleged role in last Tuesday’s shooting in Southold, a Suffolk prosecutor said Wednesday during the arraignments of three men accused in the attack.

A total of four men so far have been arrested by police. They’ve all been indicted and arraigned on violent felony charges of assault and gang assault.

They are all being held in county jail on $500,000 cash bail or $1 million bond. (more…)

10/11/14 8:28am
10/11/2014 8:28 AM
The scene Saturday morning on East Avenue in Riverhead near where a 19-year-old was shot twice. (Credit: Rachel Young)

The scene Saturday morning on East Avenue in Riverhead near where a 19-year-old man was shot twice. (Credit: Rachel Young)

UPDATE: The 19-year-old Riverhead man who police said was shot twice in the back Friday night as he was walking home on East Avenue is in critical condition at Stony Brook University Medical Center, a hospital spokesperson said Saturday afternoon.

ORIGINAL STORY: A 19-year-old Riverhead man was shot twice in the back Friday night as he was walking home on East Avenue, Riverhead police said.


01/09/14 9:46am
PAUL SQUIRE PHOTO | Glass on the rear parking lot behind the Treasure Cove Marina and Hyatt Hotel.

PAUL SQUIRE PHOTO | Glass on the rear parking lot behind the Treasure Cove Marina and Hyatt Hotel.

Update, 12:00 p.m.: Hyatt executive director Bryan DeLuca confirmed that the teenager reportedly shot at Wednesday night was not a registered guest at the hotel.

Update, 10:30 a.m.: Hyatt general manager Steve Shauger said Thursday morning that he was unsure if the Bellport man reportedly involved in a Wednesday night shooting downtown was staying at the hotel as the teen had told police.

Shauger added in the morning that while the shooting was seen by witnesses at the hotel, and the man involved said he was at the hotel parking lot when it took place, the incident itself took place in the Treasure Cove parking lot.

“It was a shock when I heard about it this morning. The hotel hasn’t had any kinds of problems like this in the past,” he said.

The general manager added that security is on throughout the night guarding “the campus” between Hyatt Place, the Long Island Aquarium and Exhibition Center. In addition, one desk agent is working at the front of the hotel during the night shift. Though he added that the employee didn’t hear anything until police showed up.

Original story: A shooting in downtown Riverhead Wednesday night left a Bellport teenager with a broken car window as he fled the scene near the Hyatt Hotel, Riverhead Town police said. No injuries were reported.

Police pulled over a car driving erratically on East Main Street about 11:15 p.m. last night and officers noticed the driver’s side window was broken. Jerome Eleazer, 19, told police that two masked people approached his car and one fired shots toward his vehicle in the rear parking lot of the Hyatt Hotel, where he had been staying, police said.

The suspects approached the car and ordered him out of the vehicle, police said. When he didn’t get out, one of the suspects fired into the car as Mr. Eleazer fled the scene, police said. Police do not currently suspect it was a random act. Mr. Eleazer, who was uninjured, told police he didn’t want to pursue the incident further.

Police reported that several witnesses at Hyatt Hotel saw the incident occur. Witnesses reported the suspects fired at the building and then fled with two other people in a car, police said.

The investigation is ongoing and anyone with information is asked to contact Riverhead police at (631) 727-4500.

According to court records, Mr. Eleazer pleaded guilty to operating a motor vehicle under the influence of drugs in November 2011. He was also arrested on a charge of fifth-degree criminal possession of a controlled substance last October. Court records show he missed his Jan. 7 court appearance and is due back in court Feb. 4.


06/21/13 2:00pm
06/21/2013 2:00 PM
BARBARAELLEN KOCH PHOTOS | Eric Baldwin Jr (left) and Jordan Harrell are led to their arraignment in Riverhead Town Justice court in February. Both men have pleaded guilty to the charges against them.

BARBARAELLEN KOCH PHOTOS | Eric Baldwin Jr (left) and Jordan Harrell are led to their arraignment in Riverhead Town Justice court in February. Both men have pleaded guilty to the charges against them.

Two of the four people charged in a February drive-by shooting in Riverhead have pleaded guilty, according to Suffolk County court records.

Eric Baldwin Jr., 18, of Bellport and Jordan Harrell, 18, of Medford — who authorities say were not the driver or shooter in the incident — were in the car allegedly used in the drive-by when it was pulled over moments after the shooting. Both were charged with first-degree reckless endangerment for acting “in concert” to shoot up the house.

Mr. Baldwin was also charged with fourth-degree criminal possession of a weapon after police found he was carrying brass knuckles.

He pleaded guilty to both the felony reckless endangerment and misdemeanor weapons possession charges against him before Judge William Condon in county criminal court Thursday, online records show. The top charge, first-degree reckless endangerment, is a class “D” felony that carries a maximum sentence of seven years in state prison.

Mr. Harrell had pleaded guilty in March to a reckless endangerment charge, court officials said.

Additional information about the two pleas was not immediately available.

The alleged driver in the shooting, former Riverhead resident Jasmine Parsons, 19, now of Mastic, still faces the first-degree reckless endangerment charge against her.

The man authorities say shot a Smith & Wesson .38-caliber semiautomatic handgun at the home on Third Street, Jeffrey Despeines, 21, of Centereach, also faces three felony charges in the incident.

Both Ms. Parsons and Mr. Despeines have pleaded not guilty.

Riverhead Town police responded to the house on Third Street just before 9 p.m. on Feb. 13 after hearing gunfire.

A nearby officer on patrol said he saw a Ford Taurus leaving the scene of the shooting and trailed the car before pulling it over, arresting the group on nearby Peconic Avenue, police said.

Authorities said they found spent shell casings on the floor of the car, which were later matched to “at least” one bullet dug from the house, prosecutors said. Police also discovered Mr. Despeines had a spent magazine in his shirt pocket at the time of his arrest and was carrying a loaded Smith & Wesson .38-caliber semiautomatic handgun, prosecutors said.

Authorities also accuse Mr. Despeines of defacing the registration on the gun.

Though seven bullets ripped through siding and into the living room and bedroom of two families living in the house, none of the people inside the house at the time of the shooting were injured.

Mr. Baldwin is scheduled to be sentenced Aug. 15, while Mr. Harrell has a sentencing date set for July 15, according to the Suffolk County District Attorney’s office.

Ms. Parsons is due in court next Wednesday, court records show. Mr. Despeines is due in court on July 12.


05/21/13 6:03am

PAUL SQUIRE PHOTO | Riverhead police arrest Nathan Streit outside the home on Osborn Avenue where he had been hiding for several hours after a confrontation that led to a shooting on nearby Marcy Avenue.

Three hours after shotgun blasts sent shockwaves through Polish Town and a Riverhead woman to the hospital, Riverhead and New York State police used a K9 to capture the teenager they say pulled the trigger.

Nathan Streit, 17, who police say is homeless, was found hiding inside a Osborn Avenue house about 11:30 p.m. Monday.

Hours earlier, Mr. Streit had fired several rounds at Jon Gallo, 26, and Shane Sypher, 25, both of Riverhead following a confrontation on nearby Raynor Avenue, police said. While neither man was struck by any of the shots, pellets from one round did cause minor injuries to Mr. Gallo’s mother, Sharon, 52.

Mr. Gallo told a News-Review reporter Monday night that he had confronted Mr. Streit and another young man over a series of break-ins in the area.

“Next thing I know, he comes back with a gun and he’s [expletive] shooting,” Mr. Gallo said.

The gunman then fled on foot, Mr. Gallo said.

Police quickly responded to the home on Osborn Avenue where they later found Mr. Streit, frequently shining a flashlight at an open second story window and questioning two men and a woman sitting outside the home.

Shortly before 11:30 p.m., several state troopers and Riverhead police officers and detectives wearing bullet proof vests, surrounded the house while a police dog and several more officers searched the interior for the shooter.

Mr. Streit was quickly apprehended without resistance, police said. He was charged with assault, criminal possession of a weapon and reckless endangerment. He was held overnight for a Tuesday morning arraignment.

Ms. Gallo was treated at Peconic Bay Medical Center for what police described as non-life threatening injuries.

Check back for more details later this morning.


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.


01/29/13 5:23pm
01/29/2013 5:23 PM

TRACEY CRUMP COURTESY PHOTO | Demitri 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.

As friends mourn the loss of the outgoing 21-year-old college student killed Sunday morning in a Flanders home invasion, a candlelight vigil and memorial services have been planned to honor the young man.

And the victim’s family members say they plan to set up a scholarship in his honor in the coming days.

Riverhead High School will host a candlelight vigil for Demitri Hampton, a 2010 graduate of the school, at 6 p.m. Thursday. The vigil is open to all, said Theresa Drozd, one of Mr. Hampton’s former teachers at the school.

The memorial will be held in front of the high school and mourners are asked to bring their own candles. A deacon from Demitri’s church will speak at the vigil, and a member of the church will sing, said district superintendent Nancy Carney.

“Any death is a tragedy, particularly one that is as untimely and premature as that of Demitri Hampton,” Ms. Carney said. “My heart goes out to his family and his friends for their loss.”

Mr. Hampton was very involved with Council for Unity at the school, Ms. Drozd said, and was a member of the basketball and track teams. Ms. Drozd said Mr. Hampton always made those around him laugh.

“Whenever you were around him you couldn’t be angry because he always put a smile on your face,” she said. “Everybody loved him. You had to love him.”

Mr. Hampton was a student at Suffolk County Community College, his family said. He was majoring in criminal justice and was planning to graduate in the spring, then pursue more studies or join the air force.

School officials say Mr. Hampton was involved on campus as well, serving as a mentor and role model to young men through the Black Male Network, a student group devoted to encouraging high schoolers to go to college.

His service and dedication made him a perfect example of what school administrators wanted in a student, said Evon Walters, executive dean and campus CEO for the eastern campus.

“Demitri was a reflection of what we try to articulate on a day-to-day basis,” Mr. Walters said.

The college will hold a memorial service for Mr. Hampton at 11 a.m. Monday at the Eastern Campus. The ceremony will include video and photo collages of Mr. Hampton and will let students mourn and share their memories of the young man, officials said.

At the same time, Mr. Hampton’s family is planning to use savings to start a scholarship fund in his name.

Jamal Davis, Mr. Hampton’s older brother, said the family is working on the scholarship this week, adding that he hopes to have the program finalized in the next few days.

Read more about  Demitri Hampton’s life in this week’s Riverhead News-Review.

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.