Gary Melius leaves hospital, returns to Oheka

Gary Melius, owner of the Oheka Castle, is

Gary Melius, owner of the Oheka Castle, is shown in Huntington. (Credit: Joe Rogate)

Major political donor and developer Gary Melius, who survived a mystery attacker's bullet, returned Tuesday to Oheka Castle, his Huntington home and the scene of the crime.

He left North Shore University Hospital in Manhasset early Tuesday and issued a statement later expressing "great relief" to be discharged. He underwent eye surgery Saturday after being shot Feb. 24 by a masked and hooded shooter in the Gold Coast estate's parking area.

"At this point it is now about getting my strength back and offering whatever assistance I can to the investigators seeking the person or persons who did this," Melius' statement read.


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Suffolk police said there was no update on the investigation, in which detectives have cast a wide net that includes Melius' business and political dealings.

Melius, 69, was in his Mercedes-Benz when the shooter put the gun against the car window and fired, police said.

Detectives said Melius, who was hit in the forehead, was the target. Surveillance footage suggests there may have been a lookout in a black car and a Jeep Cherokee used by the shooter, whose gun appeared to have jammed at least three times even as Melius stumbled toward the employee entrance, law enforcement sources said.

The developer and his wife, Pam, have given hundreds of thousands of dollars to Republicans and Democrats, often donating to those in office.

In recent years, Oheka has faced financial struggles and Melius negotiated a modification of its $27.9 million mortgage loan in August after he had defaulted a year earlier, according to public records.

Late last year, Melius was a key figure in a postelection controversy involving Nassau Police Commissioner Thomas Dale, triggering events that led to the top cop's ouster in December. He had called Dale to say he wanted to file perjury charges against a campaign worker who had raised allegations of election impropriety against county executive candidate Andrew Hardwick, whom Melius supported.

Tuesday, a few reporters tried to get a glimpse of Melius, staking out the main gate of the estate, which the developer had turned into a high-end hotel and event venue.

Castle employee Christie Miles came out to confirm Melius was inside. "He's doing very well," she said. "He's very strong." Miles declined to say if Melius plans to increase Oheka security.

While a patient, Melius had a parade of high-profile visitors almost daily, from poker pal and former U.S. senator Alfonse D'Amato, who had rushed to his bedside after the shooting, to Nassau County Executive Edward Mangano. Police officers had guarded Melius at the hospital.

Tuesday, Melius thanked the medical teams who took care of him and those who have supported him.

"It is not about the size of your home or in my case, your Castle, but about the number of friends you have in your life every day and the time you spend with your family," Melius said in his statement. "And in that regard, I am truly blessed to be a very lucky man."

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