A West Babylon man was shot to death early on the Fourth of July and a Wyandanch man seriously injured, Suffolk police said, after gunfire erupted near a North Amityville party described by a neighbor as “very peaceful.”
Both victims were taken to Southside Hospital in Bay Shore where Jason White, 38, a father of four, was pronounced dead, police said.
The second victim, 28, was recovering at the hospital Monday with serious injuries, said police, who did not release his identity. A Suffolk police spokeswoman said officers responded to a 911 call at 3:19 a.m. reporting a person shot in the leg on North Emerald Lane.
There were no suspects, Det. Lt. Kevin Beyrer said Monday afternoon.
The party took place not far from the shooting, Beyrer said at the scene earlier in the day, adding that it was too early to know a motive or if the violence was gang-related.
“We’re looking into that possibility,” Beyrer said of gang involvement, “but we can’t confirm that right now.”
Several people at the scene who identified themselves as White’s family members described him as a good father but declined further comment. Calls to relatives were not returned Monday afternoon.
Charles Alexander, 36, who lives near the scene of the shooting, said he last saw the two victims at the party just before he left at 2:40 a.m.
“I saw them laughing,” Alexander said, adding that at its peak, at least 200 people attended the party.
Suffolk police cars passed through the neighborhood of single-family homes several times before the shooting and the party “was very peaceful,” he said.
White had been planning his youngest daughter’s first birthday party in August, Alexander said. White grew up in the neighborhood, Alexander said, and was generous, often giving younger children money to go swimming at a pool.
“He used to look out for us,” Alexander said.
Neighbor Nicky Johnson, 58, wasn’t at the party, but heard the gunshots from his home nearby.
“I know the difference between firecrackers and gunshots,” Johnson said of the gunfire. “When those first four booms came, everybody that was having a party stopped. The music stopped, everything shut down.”
Another neighbor, Nathan Jackson, 66, said he was not home at the time of the shooting. When he returned later Monday, police would not allow him access to his home until the afternoon because a bullet hit the residence, making it part of the crime scene.
When Jackson returned, he discovered a fist-sized bullet hole in a window to the left of his front door, not far from where a ShotSpotter — used by law enforcement to detect gunfire — sits atop a streetlight at the foot of his driveway.
“It’s frightening,” Jackson said. “I grew up here. It’s always been very quiet. The neighborhood is like family. Lately the whole neighborhood has changed.”
Anyone with more information can call Crime Stoppers at 800-220-8477. All information will be kept confidential.