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In Melius case, Suffolk cops scour vehicle database

Suffolk County Police block the gate to Oheka

Suffolk County Police block the gate to Oheka Castle Monday, Feb. 24, 2014, in Huntington, where owner Gary Melius was shot by a masked gunman. Credit: James Carbone, Joe Rogate

Suffolk police are scouring a state registration database to try to find the vehicles used in the shooting of politically influential developer Gary Melius, law enforcement sources said.

A statewide search is being conducted through the state's LAWMAN Database, sources said, to narrow down leads on the getaway vehicles used after Melius, 69, was shot on Feb. 24 in the valet parking lot of his sprawling estate.

The database contains descriptions and other information on all New York State registered vehicles. It was originally run by the New York State Police, but now is accessible to all law enforcement. Sources said two vehicles, a Jeep and a black Infiniti, were caught on surveillance video during the midday attack.

Investigators have learned that one of the cars, the Infiniti, had plates, but it's not clear if police actually know any of the numbers, the sources said. If police knew all the numbers, one law enforcement source said, a LAWMAN's search would probably not be underway.

The database, which was opened up to local law enforcement agencies in 2012, contains millions of files. Because the database is so vast, searches are generally conducted by ZIP codes. Having identifiers such as the year, color and the particular model vehicle will narrow the search.

Sources have also said that the weapon used to shoot Melius is a heavier-caliber semi-automatic pistol.

Investigators have not released video footage of the shooting to the public, saying it is part of the ongoing probe.

Suffolk police Thursday had no updates on the investigation.

Melius was in his Mercedes-Benz in an Oheka Castle parking area when he was ambushed and shot once in the forehead about 12:30 p.m., Suffolk police have said.

The video shows what appears to be the black Infiniti pulling into the valet area, followed by the Jeep that carries the shooter, sources said, leading investigators to believe that whoever was in the black car was the shooter's lookout.

Sources said the suspect shot Melius once through the driver's side window of his Mercedes-Benz before returning to what is being described as "an older model Jeep Cherokee."

Police found at least two full rounds on the ground at the shooting scene, a source said.

Melius was discharged from the hospital earlier this week and has returned to Oheka.

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