Safety concerns were on the minds of many in Hempstead a day after a 19-year-old village resident was shot and killed outside a McDonald’s. Newsday TV’s Cecilia Dowd reports. Credit: Kendall Rodriguez, Jim Staubitser; File Footage

A police officer stationed outside a Hempstead Village McDonald's Wednesday for the usual after-school crowd had responded to another call moments before a 19-year-old man was shot dead outside the busy restaurant, law enforcement officials said Thursday.

The identity of the victim, who authorities said was targeted for attack, had yet to be released Thursday by the Nassau Police Department, which is investigating the broad daylight killing. Hempstead Village Police Chief Paul Johnson said the man had graduated last year from Hempstead High School.

Nassau Police have not publicly identified a suspect or suspects and did not provide an update Thursday about progress in the investigation. 

Police responding to a 3:48 p.m. reports of shots fired at the Peninsula Boulevard McDonald's found the village resident with multiple gunshot wounds, said Det. Lt. Richard LeBrun, spokesman for the Nassau County Police Department. Medical personnel pronounced the man dead at the scene six minutes later.

In a hail of what police said Thursday was eight bullets, a red Hyundai parked nearby was struck. No one else was injured.

Johnson said that on a typical afternoon, as many as half a dozen village police officers might be assigned to patrol outside the McDonald's.

The chief said one village police officer was posted Wednesday afternoon at the fast-food restaurant — an after-school favorite for students from Hempstead High and other campuses in the vicinity. 

Shortly before the shooting, Johnson said at a news conference Thursday, the officer had been dispatched to another call.

A village police lieutenant, who was in the area, heard the shots and responded. By the time he arrived the assailant was gone, Johnson said.

"We have increased our patrols up at the high schools, the middle schools and all the other schools in Hempstead," Johnson said.

The victim was "absolutely" targeted, Nassau Homicide Commanding Officer Det. Capt. Stephen Fitzpatrick said Wednesday at the scene, which is a mile west of Hempstead High School.

Hempstead school board members, at a news conference Thursday, said some students witnessed the shooting. District officials said they would have grief counselors available for anyone who witnessed the shooting or suffered related trauma.

"When it comes to the safety of our students and safe travels to and from school, that's where the school board has a serious concern," said board president Randy Stith, who renewed his call for Nassau police to patrol around Hempstead schools within a mile of the McDonald's. " … We cannot stop people from committing crimes. What we can do is ask for resources from different areas of government who have shared responsibility to govern over this district."

Village officials Thursday declined to comment on the investigation or whether there was surveillance video of the shooting.

"This is a terrible unfortunate incident," Hempstead Village Mayor Waylyn Hobbs Jr. said. "And when we have people that are careless enough, and don't care for the safety of the residents of the Village of Hempstead, that would do something like this in broad daylight, I'm looking for them to be brought to justice."

The village and the school board have disagreed for months on the need for additional patrols.

Hobbs, who denied there was a "feud" between his office and the school board president, said the village has enough officers to keep its residents safe.

"If we needed any additional officers, we would request it again," Hobbs said. "This is not a time for politicking. It's a time to put our students first and that's what we need to be do."

On Friday, a pair of Hempstead police officers will complete their training as school resource officers and will be permanently assigned in the coming weeks to patrol the halls of Hempstead High School, Village Police Chief Paul Johnson said.

They will join seven Juvenile Aid Bureau detectives already assigned to mediate disputes inside Hempstead schools.

Over the past five years, shootings in the village have actually declined 36% — and are down 56% since August 2021 alone — while gun arrests have steadily increased, Johnson said

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