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The Breitkopf shooting case: A timeline

The crime scene on Fourth Avenue in Massapequa

The crime scene on Fourth Avenue in Massapequa Park where authorities say a police officer and a suspect were fatally shot. (March 12, 2011) Credit: Paul Mazza

8:10 p.m. -- A patron at Johnny McGorey's Bar on Front Street in Massapequa Park calls 911 to report that a man dressed in black clothes with "a bunch of knives hanging off him" is heading east and vandalizing cars. The man is later identified as Anthony DiGeronimo.

8:14 p.m. -- A 71-year-old woman pulling out of her nearby driveway encounters DiGeronimo. She calls 911 and reports that he brandished a knife and struck her car window.

8:15 p.m. -- Nassau County Police Officer Paul Lewis arrives at Front Street and Fourth Avenue, talks briefly with the woman and spots DiGeronimo, who is masked and holding knives. Lewis draws his weapon and DiGeronimo charges him, then stops and turns up Fourth Avenue, ignoring Lewis' orders to halt and drop his knives.

DiGeronimo enters his home at the corner of Front and Fourth. Lewis follows and as he approaches and enters the home, the officer encounters DiGeronimo's parents. David DiGeronimo tells Lewis that his son is not a problem but has "emotional issues."

DiGeronimo's mother, Joanne, is controlling the family dogs as other officers arrive, their guns drawn. David DiGeronimo pleads with officers not to harm his son, who is now in his bedroom toward the back of the house, refusing to come out.

DiGeronimo emerges from his room and strides toward police, a knife held above his head. He ignores orders to drop the weapon. Officers Lewis and Richard McDonald shoot, killing DiGeronimo.

Outside, uniformed police officers have arrived, as have MTA police officers Glenn Gentile and Jose Ramos. The pair briefly enter the house and, after determining that the situation inside is secure, go outside to help other officers with crowd control.

Nassau police Bureau of Special Operations officers Geoffrey Breitkopf and Hector Rentas, both plainclothes, arrive and exit their unmarked vehicle. Rentas heard radio calls for assistance, followed by a call to "slow down," indicating that there no longer was an imminent emergency.

Breitkopf retrieves an M-4 rifle from the trunk. There are no reports of him identifying himself as a police officer as he approaches the house, nor do witnesses recall seeing his shield displayed. Rentas, who is behind Breitkopf, recalls making his shield visible.

As Breitkopf moves to the house, a retired NYPD sergeant, John Cafarella -- who came there after seeing the earlier street encounter with DiGeronimo -- sees a man in civilian clothes carrying an assault rifle with a magazine and shoulder strap. He later reports that he probably said the word "gun."

Gentile sees Breitkopf, whom he mistakes for a civilian, walk past him.

Ramos, who also doesn't know Breitkopf is a cop, grabs his shoulder with one hand and his gun with the other. Breitkopf yanks his shoulder from Ramos' grasp. Two uniformed Nassau officers also attempt to stop Breitkopf. Gentile sees the rifle Breitkopf carries raised and moving, pointed toward the officers, and perceives this as "a deadly threat."

Gentile fires a lethal shot to Breitkopf's chest. As other officers try to handcuff Breitkopf, Rentas tells them he is a police officer.

8:24 p.m. -- An ambulance is called.

9:19 p.m. -- Breitkopf is pronounced dead at Nassau University Medical Center.

Source: Accounts provided in a Nassau County district attorney report of Feb. 28, 2012.


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