Seven months after an East Patchogue high school student was found shot dead outside his house, police are asking the public for help in finding the shooter.
The Suffolk County Police Department on Wednesday offered a cash reward of up to $5,000 in exchange for information that leads to an arrest in the killing of Emilio Sanchez Maldonado.
Maldonado, 17, was found shot outside his house on Hampton Avenue at 3:32 a.m. on July 3, police said. His father, who drove home from work when he was unable to reach his son on the phone, found him.
“We believe there is someone out there who knows who did this,” Det. Lt. Kevin Beyrer, the head of the Suffolk police homicide squad, said in an interview Wednesday.
Although police believed there was one shooter, Beyrer said they are not ruling out the possibility that others may have been present when the shooting occurred just before 11 p.m. on July 2.
“He was ambushed as he came out of his house,” Beyrer said.
Detectives have chased down leads. They have gained access to the boy’s cellphone, but the information didn’t lead anywhere, Beyrer said.
The boy's father, Jose Antonio Sanchez, said at the time that he had been calling his son for several hours and got no response, so he left work just after 3 a.m. to look for the teen.
When he got home, he found his son lying on the ground just outside a wooden gate, next to the teenager's bicycle, Sanchez said in an interview last year.
“He went to pick [Maldonado] up and his hands and chest were covered in blood,” Sanchez's nephew, Adonay Cruz, who acted as his uncle's Spanish-language interpreter, said at the time.
Four hours before Maldonado was found, about 11:30 p.m., his landlord said she heard what at first sounded like fireworks outside as she and her husband watched a movie. She stayed inside because she did not feel safe.
“Pop. Pop. Pop. Pop,” the landlord said in an interview last year. “That was it.”
The landlord said she didn't hear voices of people talking or a vehicle speeding off.
Maldonado, who would have been a senior at Bellport High School in the fall, came to the United States from El Salvador in 2014, joining his father, his family had said. The boy's mother and younger sister live in El Salvador.
“All I want is justice for my son,” his father said last year. “He was just a kid. He was just a little boy.”
Beyrer urged anyone with information, even if they believe it’s insignificant, to call 631-852-6392 or Crime Stoppers at 800-220-8477, text “SCPD” and a message to 274637, or send an email through tipsubmit.com.
“Any small thread or shred of information can help us bring this case to its successful conclusion,” he said.