Sources: Video of Melius attack shows gunman trying, failing to shoot victim
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Surveillance video shows the person who shot Oheka Castle owner Gary Melius tried and failed to fire at least three more times after the politically influential developer had stumbled out of his car and headed toward the castle's employee entrance, law-enforcement sources said Monday.
The suspect, wearing a mask, black hooded sweatshirt, dark blue jeans and white sneakers, is seen on the video returning to a Jeep Cherokee after the initial shooting and then exiting the vehicle and aiming a gun at Melius, who was moving toward the entrance, sources said.
The suspect tried to clear a malfunction in the weapon three times, sources said. It is unclear what the suspect or Melius did next.
Melius, 69, was in his Mercedes-Benz in a castle parking area when he was ambushed and shot once in the forehead about 12:30 p.m. on Feb. 24, Suffolk police said.
The video shows what appears to be a black Infiniti pulling into the valet area, followed by the Jeep that carries the shooter, sources said, leading investigators to believe that whoever was in the black car was the shooter's lookout.
Sources said the suspect shot Melius once through the driver's side window of his Mercedes-Benz before returning to what is being described as "an older model Jeep Cherokee."
Police found at least two full rounds on the ground at the shooting scene, a source said.
Suffolk police would not comment on the case, releasing a statement that says, "Since this crime is an active ongoing investigation, the Suffolk County Police Department will not be making further comments at this time until unless we have some additional information pertaining to the investigation that serves the investigation by its release."
Sources have said that the weapon may have malfunctioned because it was pressed against the glass of Melius' car.
Suffolk police have not said what type of weapon was used to carry out the shooting.
Daniel O'Kelly, a retired agent for the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives and director of the Texas-based International Firearm Specialist Academy, said only a semi-automatic pistol -- not a revolver or any other type of pistol -- could malfunction after being pressed against an object.
O'Kelly said the malfunction also could have been caused by defective ammunition or a gun that has not been cleaned.
"At that point, the person is trying to clear it, trying to get it back in action," O'Kelly said. "And if he's not familiar with how to properly clear a jammed gun, he's just guessing and playing with it, and who knows what he did."
Suffolk has at least three police department units working on the case, including its Criminal Intelligence Unit, Pattern Crimes Unit and Second Squad detectives, sources said.
Melius is recovering from eye surgery at North Shore University Hospital in Manhasset.
Rep. Steve Israel (D-Huntington), who has known Melius for 20 years, visited him Monday. "He seems to be recovering nicely," he said. "He was talking about the care that he has received and how extraordinary it has been.
"He would have liked to have been out of here three days ago," Israel said. "I asked him when he thought he'd be out of here; he said he didn't know and said that he was getting impatient and would like to be able to leave."
Four uniformed Suffolk County police officers are guarding Melius at the hospital, sources said.
With Darran Simon