Riverside man is buried; night club killer runs free

VERA CHINESE PHOTO Visitors pay their last respects to Carlo Petrusa of RIverside who was fatally shot outside Dream nightclub in Hampton Bays Friday.

No arrests have been made nearly a week after a 64-year-old Riverside man and former Queens Supreme Court officers captain was killed and a Middle Island man injured after a shooting at a Hampton Bays nightclub, Suffolk Police said.
Carlo Petrusa of Riverleigh Avenue, known to many as “Uncle Carl,” was standing near the entrance of Dream nightclub on Canal Road when he was fatally shot in the abdomen shortly before 4 a.m. Friday, investigators said.
A large melee broke out after two participants — one dressed as a cavewoman — began to fight following the results of a costume contest, Southampton Town Police said. One man involved in the scuffle went out to his car, where he retrieved the handgun he then used to open fire on the club’s front entrance.
The other victim, suspected drug dealer and club promoter Shawn Badgett, 35, of Middle Island, was also shot. Mr. Badgett left the scene and was transported by friends to Stony Brook University Medical Center and was later released.
Southampton Detective Sergeant Randy Hintze said Mr. Petrusa was not involved in the brawl.
“He was a bystander who had come down to the club before the fights started as he knows the premises’ owner,” Det. Sgt. Hintze said. “There is no link with him to the promoter.”
The club is owned by Frank Vhlahadamis, who also owns the Hampton Bays Diner.
Suffolk County Police announced about 11:30 p.m. Friday that Mr. Petrusa had succumbed to his wounds at Brookhaven Memorial Hospital, where he was taken after the shooting. The case has since been turned over to county homicide detectives.
Suffolk Police Detective Sergeant William Lamb could not say whether or not Mr. Badgett’s involvement with drugs played a role in the shooting. He also declined to say whether the murder weapon was recovered at the scene or if police have any suspects.
Police said the shooter and the two men who started the scuffle all fled the scene before their arrival. The shooter was wearing a costume that resembled characters from the 1995 film “Dead Presidents,” according to police. That film concerns a group of Vietnam veterans who plan to rob an armored car while dressed in all black with white face makeup.
Hundreds of people attended a wake for Mr. Petrusa, who also served as a bodyguard to such stars as Fergie and publicist Lizzie Grubman, at J. Ronald Scott Funeral Home Tuesday. His funeral Mass at St. Phillip and James R.C. Church in St. James Wednesday was attended by about 70 people, including about a dozen uniformed state police officers.
During the Mass, church pastor Father Anthony Stanganelli described Mr. Petrusa as an innocent victim and said it is hard to make sense of his death.
“It seems the whole pyramid of society crumbles,” he said. “You can’t look for answers in this world. This world doesn’t give answers.”
Mr. Petrusa, who was not married and had no children, is survived by a brother, Richard.
As for Mr. Badgett, he had been arrested in May in what the district attorney’s office called the largest drug bust ever recorded on the East End. A search of his home at 15 Albright Drive in Coram netted 40 bags of heroin, 5.6 ounces of crack cocaine and more than $70,000 in cash, officials said. Mr. Badgett, who police said was cooking cocaine when they arrived at his home, allegedly supplied others throughout the North and South forks with heroin.
During the search in Coram, police said they found $73,000 strewn about the home in various locations, including under a nightstand and in a pair of pants. Detectives found another $90,000 in Mr. Badgett’s safe deposit box and $260 in counterfeit bills in a woman’s purse, authorities said.
He was freed from the county jail July 22 after posting $250,000 bond and is due back in court Dec. 9, authorities said.
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