After 66 days of sobriety, Janelle Curella’s efforts to turn her life around were cut short by masked gunmen Friday night, according to a friend who witnessed the attack.
The witness said she and Curella, 28, were walking on Center Avenue to the Bay Shore Long Island Rail Road station at about 9:25 p.m. with David Arzu, 29, and another man.
The group had been hanging out in West Babylon and South Shore Mall and were heading home to Riverhead, Curella’s friend — her roommate at a sober house — said Saturday.
“Out of nowhere, these two guys with bandanas on their faces and hoodies attacked Dave and punched him,” the 26-year-old roommate told Newsday. Her identity is being withheld for her protection as a crime victim.
She said the attackers were both armed and during a brief struggle shots were fired. Curella and Arzu were killed, the witness and Suffolk police said.
Arzu’s friend broke free and hid behind a parked vehicle, while she ran, the witness said.
“I ran to the opposite side of the street and banged on someone’s window to let me in the house because I was really scared,” she said.
After the gunmen fled, she said she returned to the scene of the shooting.
“It was horrific,” she said. “I’m just trying to deal with it.”
Curella, of Manorville, and Arzu, of Bay Shore, were taken to Southside Hospital in Bay Shore, where they were pronounced dead.
Relatives of Curella and Arzu declined to comment.
No arrests had been made late Saturday. Police said they are investigating whether the group was targeted.
Anyone with information is asked to call Suffolk homicide squad detectives at 631-852-6392 or Suffolk Crime Stoppers at 800-220-TIPS (8477).
Curella was in rehab for heroin addiction and worked as a sales associate in a hat store at Tanger Outlet in Riverhead, her friend said.
She said, “She was my best friend . . . She has a good head on her shoulders. She’s such a strong woman.”
Another friend, Dana Carbone, 29, said she admired Curella’s kindness.
“Honestly, she’s been through a lot in her life and she just wanted to turn her life around and do the right thing,” Carbone said. “She just happened to be at the wrong place with the wrong person at the wrong time.”
Christina Allen, a friend of Arzu, brought flowers and candles Saturday for a makeshift memorial at the shooting scene.
“He’s a good-hearted person,” she said.
Allen, of Bay Shore, said Arzu was a father of a young child and owned a collectible coins business.
“He was always nice to everyone,” Allen said.
With Darran Simon