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Accused cop shooter was gang member who survived drive-by shooting last year, prosecutors say

Sheldon Leftenant, 22, of Huntington Station, is led

Sheldon Leftenant, 22, of Huntington Station, is led out of the Third Precinct in Bay Shore for arraignment in Central Islip Criminal Court on Thursday, March 12, 2015. Credit: James Carbone

The man accused of shooting a Suffolk police officer in Huntington Station after a traffic stop Wednesday night survived a drive-by shooting last year and is a member of a local "vicious" gang, prosecutors said Thursday.

Sheldon Leftenant, 22, of Mastic Beach is charged with shooting Second Precinct Officer Mark Collins in the hip and neck after he fled from a car the officer had stopped at East Jericho Turnpike and Mercer Court.

Suffolk District Attorney Thomas Spota said the officer identified Leftenant as the man who shot him. The traffic stop took place after the car Leftenant and three other men were riding in sped and swerved down Jericho Turnpike, passing the car Collins and other plainclothes officers were in.

"All of the police officers recognized the defendants, at least three of the defendants, as being members of local vicious gang called The Tip Top Boyz," Spota said after Leftenant's arraignment.

According to police and court records, Leftenant had himself been a victim of gun violence. Last August, he was shot in the groin outside his family's home on Tippin Drive in Huntington Station in an incident that is believed to be gang-related, Spota said. That case was never solved, "principally because Leftenant absolutely refused to cooperate with law enforcement," the DA said.

In 2012, court records show Leftenant pleaded guilty to fourth-degree criminal facilitation, a misdemeanor, after being originally charged with three counts of second-degree assault.

He was sentenced to a year in the Suffolk County jail and 5 years probation, officials said.

At the Tippin Drive address Thursday, Leftenant's brother, who did not want to be identified by name, answered the door. The 27-year-old man said his younger brother had been living on the East End recently, working for a contractor doing airport maintenance.

Their mother died in 2011, the older brother said. After that, "He was moving around," he said. "My mom passed away; stuff got real. He had real people's problems."

"I don't know what's going on; I haven't spoken to him," he said of his brother. "This is a serious situation. "

With William Murphy

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