Gunfire erupted Monday afternoon inside a busy Lake Ronkonkoma IHOP filled with nearly two dozen customers — a frightening episode that ended with one man shot and another in custody facing charges, Suffolk police said.
The chaotic scene, which unfolded about 1:24 p.m. inside the restaurant at 339 Portion Rd., was initially described to police as an "active shooter," but late Monday, police said they believed it was an "internal" dispute between Bloods gang members.
Less than two hours after the IHOP shooting and eight miles east in Coram, three men were shot in two separate incidents by groups of armed assailants who fled, attacks that police believe involve Bloods members or their associates. Monday night, investigators were checking if the Coram shootings had any connection to the IHOP attack.
In the IHOP shooting, multiple shots rang out as frantic customers hid throughout the restaurant, fearing for their lives and calling 911, authorities said.
There were about 20 patrons in the restaurant, including the family with a child in a high chair sitting directly across from the shooter, police said. None of the other customers were injured but a bullet fragment hit the sweater of one female patron without penetrating her body, Cameron said.
"It's very clear that the potential for this could have been dire," he said. "It could have been much worse. The potential was definitely there for it to be much worse."
The 911 reports drew a massive police response within two minutes of the calls. But later police officials and Suffolk County Executive Steve Bellone quickly sought to assure the public that this had not been an "active shooter" situation.
"We believe this was a targeted shooting and we believe the suspects had an interaction before the shooting," Suffolk Police Chief of Department Stuart Cameron said at a news conference Monday. "We do not believe this was a random act or that there is any reason for the public to be concerned other than the fact that it occurred in a crowded restaurant."
The shooting occurred at 1:24 p.m. after a man, sitting with a group of people, got up from their table and approached another group of patrons at a second table, Cameron said. Moments later, a person sitting at the second table fired multiple shots at the victim, who was hit once, Cameron said.
The suspect fled but was apprehended by a Sixth Precinct officer around the corner from the restaurant at Portion and Holbrook roads, police said. Several other people who had been sitting with the suspect were detained by police but have not been arrested, officials said.
The victim was taken to Stony Brook University Hospital in a private vehicle and was in surgery Monday afternoon for a gunshot wound, Cameron said.
The identity of the suspect and the victim were not released.
In one of the Coram shootings, Desmond Kenney and Dwight Moore were in the driveway of a Fife Drive residence when several masked men opened fire about 3:15 p.m., police said. Moore, 26, of Coram, was taken to Long Island Community Hospital in East Patchogue, police said, and Kenney, 22, of Selden, got to Stony Brook University Hospital on his own. Both men's injuries were not life-threatening, police said.
About the same time, investigators said, Glen Reddick-Burwell Jr., 22, of Coram, was in his BMW on Judith Drive when three men got out of a white Range Rover and one of them shot him, police said. Reddick-Burwell drove off but crashed about a mile away in a wooded area behind the former Sixth Precinct on Route 25 in Coram, police said. He was taken to Stony Brook University Hospital for non-life-threatening injuries.
Sixth Precinct detectives were trying to determine which shooting happened first. Other details in the Coram and IHOP shootings were not released.
A resident of Fife Drive said she returned home to find the street blocked and about 20 police vehicles. A Ford sedan could be seen parked on the driveway where the shooting had occurred, she said.
"You could see the driver's window all smashed up."
Police ask anyone with information to call Crime Stoppers at 800-220-TIPS.
With Ellen Yan