By Jano Tantongco
Two years after Oheka Castle owner Gary Melius was shot in the head outside the luxury Huntington hotel and catering hall, his home, Suffolk police and the FBI confirmed yesterday that they are partnering to investigate the botched assassination.
"Suffolk County Police Department has requested our assistance on the case, and we are working with them,” Adrienne Senatore, an FBI spokeswoman, stated in an email on Wednesday.
“This partnership is one of many ways we work together to protect our communities.” Senatore said, adding, “As this is an ongoing matter, we are unable to provide any additional comment.”
Suffolk police said Wednesday that the partnership was initiated by newly-appointed Suffolk Police Commissioner Timothy Sini who recently reassessed the department and its major open cases. The attempted murder of Melius is the second case to garner FBI involvement, along with the Gilgo Beach murders.
A Suffolk police spokeswoman said Wednesday that Sini could not be made available for direct comment on the Melius case before deadline.
FBI involvement comes after Melius made multiple attempts via email to contact Suffolk County Executive Steve Bellone and ask for a fresh look into the case. Melius told Long Islander News last December that he spoke with Bellone last October, but that the county executive did not immediately respond to his pleas to bring in the FBI.
A spokeswoman for Bellone said Wednesday that the county executive was not available for comment before deadline.
Melius continues to offer a $100,000 reward for any information leading to the arrest and conviction of the person who tried to kill him on Feb. 24, 2014.
In a statement sent via email on Wednesday, Melius said, "I've been lucky many times in my life and still being alive and in good health, today, is no exception. Somebody was certainly watching over me two years ago. Unfortunately, the person who tried to take my life is still out there.”
Melius recounted the night he was shot in a release given to Long Islander News on Tuesday.
He said he was seated in his Mercedes-Benz near Oheka Castle’s front door at around 12:30 p.m. At that time, a masked gunman approached the vehicle and fired two rounds through a closed window. One bullet passed through Melius’ left temple, but did not strike his skull, likely sparing him of critical injuries. The bullet also struck a side window, sending glass into Melius’ eye.
Melius said the shooter’s gun jammed. While the shooter struggled with malfunctioning gun, Melius said he fled into Oheka Castle. Melius said that the shooter continued to aim at him, and attempted to shoot, as he fled.
The shooter was soon seen leaving the property in light colored, four-door Jeep Grand Cherokee with five-spoke rims. Police later released still images of the Jeep, which they said was seen shortly after the incident “driving in a reckless manner” in the area of W. 11th Street in Huntington.
Melius said he underwent surgery to repair damage from the bullet, and to remove shards of glass. But, even after the surgery, fragments of the bullet remain and he said he’s suffered from seizures because of it. He said there are also particles of glass still in his eye.
“There are residual effects from the shooting that will probably never go away,” Melius said in a statement. “But I am grateful every day that my life was spared by whatever fateful intervention occurred that day.”