Marie Rosental clutched the photo of her son, Danie Philistin, Wednesday and wailed while pleading for information on how to find his killer.
“I need everyone to help me, please!” Rosental cried out at a Yaphank news conference with Suffolk police. “I know some people know. Some people were there. Some people say something, please come forward. Dani was everything to me. He was my only son, please help me.”
It’s been almost 17 months since Philistin, 29, of South Plainfield, New Jersey, was fatally shot in the head as he was trying to break up an argument at a West Babylon pool party July 17, 2021, and was walking away with friends trying to go home.
After dozens of witness interviews, the case is still unsolved and Suffolk County police are now asking anyone from the public to come forward who may have been at the party or knows anything about the killing.
Detectives and Philistin’s family said Wednesday they are seeking to revive public interest in the case and announced a reward up to $5,000 leading to an arrest.
Suffolk County Police Commissioner Rodney Harrison said Philistin was at a backyard house party the night of the killing that was advertised on Instagram. Party hosts sold tickets and provided security, the ad said.
“This case has a lot of meat on the bone. We are right there and just a couple of steps away. We just have to let the public know we need your help,” Harrison said. “There are witnesses in this case. People know what happened and we need them to come forward.”
He said as the party was winding down, two drunken men approached two women at the party and groped one of them, leading to an argument with two of Philistin’s friends.
“Then it happened: one man pulled a gun and shot him in the head,” Harrison said.
Philistin graduated from Alfred State University and received a bachelor’s degree in sports medicine. He was a semipro football player for the Brooklyn Pharaohs and also coached middle school flag-football.
His mother said that he did not get to live to see his twin sister’s daughter be born, shortly after his death.
“Please someone help me I don't want to die and not see justice for my son Danie,” she said. “He was a good person. He didn't deserve to die like this.”
Police said there were about 200 people at the party and monitored surveillance footage of the party showed Philistin walking away from the party, and the sound of a gunshot, but did not show the killing.
“Anyone who was there, we need to talk to you,” Suffolk County Det. Lt. Kevin Beyrer said.
Police said they don’t know if Philistin knew his killer. Beyrer said the victim's friends did not know the shooter. He said it’s possible a third person not involved in the initial altercation fired the shot from a distance and Philistin may not have been the intended target.
Police ask anyone with information about the party or the shooting to call Crime Stoppers at 1-800-220-TIPS. Callers can remain anonymous.