A man fatally shot his girlfriend, then exchanged fire with officers while he barricaded himself in a Ridge apartment with his two children Sunday morning before surrendering, police said.
Suffolk's homicide squad chief, Det. Lt. Jack Fitzpatrick, said police responded to the apartment on Village Drive in the Brookwood at Ridge apartment complex about 11:40 a.m. after they received "a number of calls" that there had been multiple gun shots fired.
When officers arrived, they found the woman lying in front of the apartment, Fitzpatrick said. She was pronounced dead at the scene. Officers who first responded were able to drag the woman around the side of the building and out of the line of fire, because the man was still inside, he said. Her body remained at the scene until 7:40 p.m.
Authorities identified the couple as Jose Rodriguez III, 32, and the victim as his longtime girlfriend, Kimberly Sellitto, 36.
Fitzpatrick said Rodriguez fired six shots from a rifle at an Emergency Services Unit truck carrying two officers. The shooting prompted a gunfire exchange with police. No one was injured in the gun battle.
Emergency Service officers and the Hostage Negotiation Team urged Rodriguez to release his two children from the home. Fitzpatrick said the children are both under 7. He said the children were not hostages.
"They . . . [the children] were there as the event unfolded," Fitzpatrick said. The children were released to their mother.
The suspected gunman's sister, Stephanie Rodriguez, 26, of Niagara Falls, said the couple had been together several years.
"I can't even explain the shock," Rodriguez said by phone. "I fell to my knees when I heard the news this morning. I know for a fact that he cared for her."
Homicide Squad detectives charged Rodriguez with second-degree murder and attempted aggravated murder. He was being held overnight and is scheduled to be arraigned at First District Court in Central Islip Monday.
His sister said family in Niagara Falls were making plans Sunday to be there.
She said the couple met about seven years ago at the tattoo parlor where he worked. She said the relationship was rocky from the start. "My family is torn," she said. "Ever since he was with her his relationship with his family was hurt."
She said he wanted to leave the victim. "He wanted to be happy with her, but in the inside he was screaming, he felt like the only people he had were his kids. I told him I would never leave his side," Rodriguez said.
"He was like a second dad to me," she said. "We had such a good relationship . . . He was my hero.
"I feel like I lost him now that he is in jail."
The person who answered calls at the home of Sellitto's family in Connecticut did not answer questions and hung up.