Nassau County police on Wednesday said Mark Small shot and killed his girlfriend Marivel Estevez in a bedroom at the apartment complex where she lived and worked — then got hit by a car on the LIE while chasing after the dog he stole from her. Newsday TV’s Steve Langford reports. Credit: Kendall Rodriguez; Photo Credit: Emilio Estevez

An Elmont man who shot and killed his girlfriend before being hit by a car on the Long Island Expressway while chasing a dog he took from her apartment was arrested and charged Wednesday with murder, Nassau police said.

Mark Small, 55, faces charges of second-degree murder and second-degree criminal possession of a weapon in the death last Thursday of Marivel Estevez, 39, who lived in the Allure apartments at 140 Old Country Rd.

Small pleaded not guilty at his arraignment Wednesday in First District Court in Hempstead and was held without bail after being released from a hospital earlier in the day.

Estevez was the assistant manager of the luxury apartment complex and had been in a two-year relationship with Small, who owned and operated Grotto, a Carribean-themed restaurant in Rockville Centre that closed in recent weeks.

"Their relationship was described by friends and family as tumultuous," said Det. Capt. Stephen Fitzpatrick, commanding officer of the Nassau Homicide Squad, at a news conference Wednesday in Mineola. "She recently had confided in friends and family that she wanted to leave Mark and move back to Tampa," Florida.

Emilio Estevez of Lindenhurst, Marivel's older brother, said he  never trusted Small.

"She was advised by plenty of people that he does have a temper …," said Estevez, a New York City correction officer. "But she said she was OK and had no issues with him."

David Haber, a Garden City defense attorney who represented Small during his arraignment, declined to comment. Small is due back in court Friday.

Marivel Estevez, who had been living at the Allure since January, was last seen leaving work on the evening of July 28 and entering her apartment, Fitzpatrick said.

Authorities believe Small, who had a key to her apartment, was waiting for Estevez when she arrived. The couple had an argument in the apartment and Small allegedly shot Estevez multiple times in her bedroom, Fitzpatrick said.

Small then took Estevez's vehicle and her Maltese dog, Tuffy, before fleeing on the westbound LIE, police said. 

Near the Willis Avenue exit, Small collided with a box van and, while he waited for police, the dog jumped out of the vehicle, Fitzpatrick said. As Small chased after the dog, another vehicle hit him. He suffered multiple fractures and spent several days hospitalized in intensive care, according to Fitzpatrick.

The dog has not yet been found and witnesses told police it might have been hit by a vehicle.

Small has no prior arrests and police had not responded to any prior domestic violence incidents with the couple, authorities said.

Police gained entry into Marivel Estevez's apartment Saturday to conduct a wellness check and found her body.

They also recovered a .38 caliber revolver believed to have been used in the shooting. Small does not legally own a firearm, Fitzpatrick said.

Small was seen on surveillance video going into the apartment on the night of the shooting, according to Fitzpatrick.

"That apartment complex has very sophisticated entry and exit times with fobs and video," he said. "We have him strapped down to a really tight timeline that he was the only one with means and opportunity to have done this. Nobody else was there."

The Allure is operated by the Bozzuto Management Company, a real estate company in Maryland.

"We are devastated by the tragic passing of our beloved colleague and friend Marivel Estevez," the company said in a statement. "She will be profoundly missed by all those who knew and loved her."

Erin Garrity, whose parents live in the Allure, said Estevez was beloved in the building.

"She was a very nice person," Garrity said. "Just always there for people and always upbeat. Just a really good person. So it's very upsetting."

Frank Gulli, who lives in the building, said the shooting is worrisome.

"It's a little scary. It's disgusting," he said. "The police assured us that it was an isolated incident."

Estevez was the youngest of six children and grew up in Rockville Centre, her brother said. 

"She was just wonderful to be around," he said. "I haven't found one person, even growing up, that didn't like her. She didn't like any problems. She was just there for everybody."

A GoFundMe page to help the Estevez family with funeral expenses had raised more than $8,500 by Wednesday night.

With John Valenti

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