Source: Melius shooting organized, used two cars

Gary Melius, owner of Huntington's Oheka Castle, was shot in the head in the valet parking area of the catering hall by a masked gunman on Feb. 24, 2014, according to Suffolk County police, who discuss the incident. (Credit: News 12, Newsday / Chris Ware)

Suffolk County investigators have reviewed dramatic surveillance video of a masked, hooded person shooting Oheka Castle owner Gary Melius that shows two vehicles that cops believe may have been involved, law enforcement and Nassau government sources said Wednesday.

The Huntington facility's video shows the suspect getting out of a Jeep Cherokee and heading straight to Melius, who at that point appeared to be in his Mercedes-Benz with the window rolled up, the law-enforcement sources said. It's unclear whether anyone else was in the Jeep.

The suspect is seen pressing the gun onto the driver's side window before firing the first round, which investigators believe is the shot that hit Melius, a major political donor to both political parties, the sources said.


PHOTOS: The Castle and its owner | Inside the Castle
VIDEO: Castle owner shot in head
MORE: Castle faced financial pressure | Profile: Gary Melius | Complete coverage


However, the kickback from the shot caused the gun to malfunction and jam, said the sources. Police found two full rounds on the ground at the shooting scene, a source said.

The suspect is then seen trying to fix the malfunction, the sources said, and it appears the suspect keeps aiming at Melius and trying to shoot.

The video seems to show a black sedan pulling into the valet area first on Monday, followed by the Jeep that carries the shooter, the sources said.

Investigators believe whoever was in the black car was the shooter's lookout, sources said.

Neither vehicle seen in the video appeared to have license plates, sources said.

Suffolk Deputy Chief Kevin Fallon said the sources' account was incorrect but declined to elaborate.

Melius, 69, was in his car in the parking lot of the mansion, which includes a high-end hotel and catering venue, about 12:30 p.m. Monday when at least three shots were fired at him, Suffolk police said.

Suffolk police declined to provide updates Wednesday on the status of the investigation, while Melius remained hospitalized in stable condition at North Shore University Hospital in Manhasset, a hospital spokesman said.

Suffolk District Attorney Thomas Spota, who went to the hospital, declined to comment.

Former Freeport Mayor Andrew Hardwick visited Melius and said he's "doing well. He's a fighter . . . He's in great spirits."

A pair of police cars remained outside the gated main entrance to the venue Wednesday. While that entrance of the sprawling estate is protected by a security guard and includes an intercom system, others with knowledge of the grounds say there's a rear entrance for employees that isn't guarded.

Gary Krupp, 66, of Wantagh, who describes himself as a friend and business associate of Melius, said he had always entered through the gates but was aware of the back entrance. He said he had left that way only a few times when visiting the Castle.

Melius serves on the board of directors of the Pave the Way Foundation, of which Krupp is the president and founder. The organization promotes tolerance among the world's religions.

Krupp and his wife last saw Melius and his wife a few weeks ago at the Castle over dinner with business associates visiting from Monte Carlo, he said.

Since the shooting, Krupp said he's only spoken to one of Melius' daughters through email, but once Melius is home, he plans to visit.

He has a special gift for his friend, he said -- a bottle of grappa, a grape-based brandy from Italy -- one of Melius' favorites, he said.

With Robert Brodsky, Celeste Hadrick and Darran Simon

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