August 09, 2006
Shooting on County Road 39
A verbal dispute escalated into a shooting and a three-car accident on County Road 39 in Southampton on Sunday afternoon. An unidentified shooter chased the car of his victim, a 37-year-old Coram man and an employee of Verizon Communications, down County Rd. 39 after a verbal altercation in the parking lot of the Burger King in Southampton. The perpetrator fired one round from a shotgun into the side of the Verizon employee's truck near the intersection of North Magee Street.
"He was purposely trying to get this guy, either to kill him or to hurt him," said an eyewitness to the shooting and accident, who wished to remain anonymous for reasons of safety.
No one was injured in the incident, and, as of press time, Southampton Town Police had yet to arrest the shooter.
According to Detective Sergeant Randy Hintze with the Southampton Town Police, the confrontation began "for no apparent reason." The victim was eating his lunch in the Burger King parking lot when the suspect, whom police described as a white male, approximately 5'8, unshaven, wearing a white doo rag and a black baseball cap, approached the victim and accused the man of "watching him," according to Hintze.
"That was not the case. The victim was unknown to the suspect," Hintze said.
The suspect then displayed a silver handgun and threatened the victim, but did not fire the gun. According to Hintze, the victim "told [the suspect] to 'get out of here, there's no problem.'" The suspect drove off, but then followed the victim when the man left the parking lot.
As the two cars were traveling westbound on County Rd. 39, the suspect fired one round from a shotgun into the passenger side of the Verizon truck. "All of a sudden this Verizon truck is kind of veering like he's trying to get out of the way of somebody, and this black car comes and all you hear is a loud bang, like metal hitting metal," said the witness, who was in a car at the light at North Magee St.
"My main concern was the people, trying to make sure everyone was alright, but I was scared to death. As soon as I heard that I grabbed my phone and called 911," the witness added.
The blast did not strike the victim, but he did lose control of his truck, hitting another vehicle at the intersection of County Rd. 39 and North Magee St. The shooter hit the same vehicle and several signs before driving off northbound on N. Magee St.
"He took off down Magee St. and he made a right like he was going to try to go through North Sea, but that area is shut off. And you hear him squealing tires as he makes a U-ey and he took off," the witness said.
Another car followed the shooter's car and was able to get the license plate number, the witness said.
Police said the suspect was driving a dark blue or black car, possibly a Honda Accord, with tinted windows and front and side damage as a result of the accident. Police said the man was accompanied by a black woman.
The three occupants in the vehicle that was hit by both the shooter's car and the Verizon truck were unharmed, according to police. The victim "was okay, but everybody was really shaken up," said the bystander, who also noted that police arrived within two minutes. The road near the incident was closed down for "two or three hours" after the shooting, the witness added.
Officers and officials at the accident indicated that the shooter was a local, possibly from the North Sea area, based on the information obtained from the license plate number, according to the witness: "That's what everybody was saying on the scene, that it was a local kid."
Southampton police said otherwise on Monday. "We followed up on the lead and it turned out it was not that person," Hintze said.
The investigation is continuing.