A 30-year-old gang member was shot in the head and seriously injured Tuesday after the shooter chased him into an Amityville neighborhood, Suffolk police said.
The unidentified man was taken to an area hospital with life-threatening injuries and was undergoing surgery Tuesday night, said Det. Lt. Kevin Beyrer, commander of the Suffolk police Homicide Squad, at a news conference near the shooting scene.
Police later said the victim was in critical condition.
Amityville and Massapequa schools near the shooting site were put on lockdown for part of Tuesday afternoon while police searched the neighborhood for the shooter, who fled in a vehicle.
Beyrer said the shooting may be gang- or drug-related and the assailant and the victim may have known each other. He declined to identify the gang the victim is associated with, saying his affiliations have changed over time but it is not MS-13.
The violence began south of the scene of the shooting about 1:45 p.m. when a bullet struck a window of a nearby CPR Cell Phone Repair shop on Merrick Road in Amityville, police said.
"There was no eyewitness to the shooting," Beyrer said. "However, people heard the shots. People inside the store called 911."
Seconds later, a witness saw vehicles racing north of the cellphone store and heard additional gunshots, police said.
"He then sees a male running south of that location," Beyrer said of the witness. "He holds onto that male and calls 911."
Multiple shots were fired and the victim was found on Oldfield Avenue near Orchard Street, police said.
A resident named Pat, who did not want her last name used, said she was walking her dog on Homestead Avenue and saw a black car speed by with a silver SUV in pursuit.
She then heard shots — six or possibly more — and then saw an off-duty Amityville police officer she knew from the neighborhood tackle a man who kept yelling “it wasn’t me." Cops arrived at scene quickly.
That man, who turned out to be a passenger in the victim's vehicle, was released, police said. Police declined to say whether the witness who tackled the man was an off-duty Amityville officer.
Pat said she has lived in the area for 28 years.
“Such a real quiet neighborhood," she said. "I have always felt safe here.”
At the cellphone repair store, duct tape was visible over the store front where the bullet shattered the outside of the double-paned glass.
"There was no one in the store except for me and I was in the back," said the store owner, who was reached by phone and asked that Newsday not identify him. "I heard glass break. I didn't know what happened. There was no one in the parking lot. Then I saw what looked like a bullet."
The bullet lodged between the two panes of the glass, he said, and when police arrived, they retrieved it.
The cellphone store will be open Wednesday, the business owner said.
"It was just a random bullet," he said, "so it's scary."