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Homeless man living in Riverside who said assailant hit him in head dies

Police are searching for a suspect who attacked and fatally injured a 65-year-old man in the Riverhead area last week.

The victim, identified as Wayne Sapiane, was homeless but living in Riverside, Suffolk County police said. Police said he was initially taken to Peconic Bay Medical Center in Riverhead, but was later transported to Southside Hospital in Bay Shore, where he died of his injuries on Jan. 5 — three days after Sapiane told police he was hit in the head by an unknown male.

Gary Sapiane, a longtime radio personality at WLNG in Sag Harbor, said his brother suffered "catastrophic brain damage" in the attack. He said his brother had been kept alive on a ventilator after surgeons were forced to remove part of his skull in an attempt to relieve pressure on his brain.

"There's a lot of stories floating around out there about what happened," Gary Sapiane said, adding that he only knows for certain what police have released about the attack — that it occurred in broad daylight in an area of West Main Street.

Gary Sapiane said his brother was a great guitar player and an excellent musician and said that "people really liked him," which was why news of the attack came as "a big shock." Gary Sapiane said he had seen his brother just recently and had gotten a text from him a day before the attack, wishing him a happy new year.

"I texted him back and I'm really glad I did," Gary Sapiane said Wednesday.

Police are asking anyone with information regarding the fatal attack to contact Crime Stoppers at 800-220-8477 or Homicide Squad detectives at 631-852-6392. All calls will remain confidential, police said.

"Hopefully, we get justice," Gary Sapiane said.

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