A Centereach man is accused of firing a single shot into another driver’s vehicle early Tuesday morning on the Southern State Parkway during a road rage incident, State Police said.
The victim, a 24-year-old man from Nassau County, was not injured and followed his alleged assailant while on the phone with police, who eventually stopped and arrested Paul Rizzo Jr., 57, in Commack on the Long Island Expressway around 5:20 a.m., authorities said.
State Police Maj. David Candelaria, Troop L commander, said at a news conference in Farmingdale that the victim apparently drove in front of Rizzo as they were exiting a Gulf gas station on Sunrise Highway in Islip Terrace.
"You shouldn't be engaged in [a road rage incident] first of all," Candelaria said. "Second of all, it does not give you the right to pull out a handgun and take a shot at somebody, period."
They both drove aggressively westbound on the highway — "both vehicles swerving at each other," police said — when Rizzo allegedly fired a single shot from his Berreta pistol from his driver's side window, which struck the victim’s passenger-side door.
"I'm on the highway, someone has a gun and just shot at my car," Candelaria said the victim told 911 operators.
Rizzo, in a 2018 Kia SUV, allegedly drove onto the Sagtikos Parkway and then onto the LIE with the victim in his 2010 Hyundai Elantra, following at a safe distance while speaking to 911 operators, Candelaria said. What led up to the road rage incident remains under investigation.
"He said he was afraid to get too close," Candelaria said of the victim following Rizzo.
Rizzo, who has a Suffolk County pistol permit, is expected to be arraigned Wednesday at First District Court in Central Islip. He is charged with second-degree criminal possession of a weapon, first-degree reckless endangerment, second-degree criminal mischief, second-degree menacing, reckless endangerment of property and unlawful possession of marijuana.
Candelaria said he was not aware of any prior convictions. The victim was on his way home from work, and Rizzo was on his way to work, the major said.