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Cops: Central Islip man in police custody dies after medical emergency

Suffolk police at the South Ocean Avenue scene

Suffolk police at the South Ocean Avenue scene in Patchogue on Sunday where a man suffered a medical emergency while in police custody and was later pronounced dead at a hospital, officials said.   Credit: James Carbone

A Central Islip man who entered an unlocked Patchogue home early Sunday died after suffering a medical emergency in Suffolk police custody, authorities said.

Suffolk police said Wenzola Rountree, 42, was transported to Long Island Community Hospital in Patchogue where he was pronounced dead.

The New York State Attorney General's office was notified of Rountree's death and the investigation is continuing, police said.

Officers responded to a 911 call at 12:56 a.m. Sunday about an unknown man who had taken off all his clothes, was talking to himself and asking for help in the backyard of a Brook Street home, Suffolk police said. 

When officers and a Patchogue ambulance crew arrived at the scene, according to Suffolk police, the man, later identified as Rountree, fled and ran into an unlocked house on nearby South Ocean Avenue. The occupants of the South Ocean Avenue home, who did not know Rountree, yelled for help. Officers then entered the home and handcuffed Rountree, police said.

Officers and ambulance personnel performed CPR and provided other aid to Rountree, who appeared to be in medical distress, police said. 

An autopsy, including a toxicology report, will be conducted by the Suffolk County Medical Examiner to determine the cause of death.

In a statement, the Attorney General’s Office said "it is aware of the case and is in the process of determining whether the incident falls within their jurisdiction to open an investigation." 

With Robert Brodsky

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