Suffolk police will release Thursday a portion of surveillance video taken from the day Oheka Castle owner and political power broker Gary Melius was shot, sources close to the investigation said.
The release comes two years after an assailant snuck up to the driver’s side of Melius’ black Mercedes-Benz to shoot him in the head. Sources said the video’s release could aid them in capturing the elusive shooter.
In March 2014, Newsday reported what was on the video from the time the alleged shooter’s vehicle enters the castle’s parking lot until a wounded Melius is seen stumbling to the employee entrance. It is unclear how much of the video will be released.
Early on in the investigation, criminal experts said Suffolk police should have released the video because it could aid in capturing the shooter.
The department’s shift in theory on getting the video out to the public comes from orders from its new top brass, who have tried to be more accessible than the previous regime.
Police Commissioner Tim Sini recently said he requested the FBI’s help on the case and the bureau already has begun helping. It’s the second major case where federal authorities have been asked to assist. Sini has also requested the FBI’s help in the Gilgo Beach murders.
FBI spokeswoman Kelly Langmesser said her agency has been contacted by Suffolk and currently is working with the department on the case.
“This partnership is one of many ways we work together to protect our communities,” Langmesser said. “As this is an ongoing matter any further comment would be inappropriate.”
The suspect, wearing a mask, black hooded sweatshirt, dark blue jeans and white sneakers, is seen on the grainy video coming out of a parked khaki-colored Jeep Cherokee located one row up and two cars away from Melius’ sedan, which had been parked in a spot reserved for him, sources said.
The source said the video shows Melius walking to his vehicle and starting the engine. While another vehicle, which appears to be a black Infiniti, pulls out of the valet/employee parking area before the suspect exits the Jeep, that vehicle was eliminated last year as being involved in the shooting.
Once the suspect exits the vehicle, he is seen crouching down and headed toward the driver’s side of Melius’ car. Then he shoots, walks away, then fumbles with the weapon.
Sources said the quality of the video is so bad, even Melius is unrecognizable as he initially walked to his vehicle but they are hoping that finally releasing the video will help advance the case.
One law enforcement source said the shooting happened just as landscapers were working on the grounds so the sounds of their leaf blowers coupled with their wearing headphones created a “perfect storm” for the shooting to go initially unnoticed.
Melius has advertised a $100,000 reward for information in the shooting. After former Chief of Department James Burke was indicted on federal civil rights violation and obstruction charges in December 2015, Melius asked for the FBI to step in and investigate his case.
Burke, who was also a top investigator for the District Attorney Thomas Spota, is accused of beating up a man who stole a duffel bag from his department-issued vehicle in December 2012 and then covering it up.