Rep. Lee Zeldin said his daughters were doing their homework at the table when gunshots erupted outside their Shirley home on Sunday. Police Commissioner Rodney Harrison met with the congressman the morning after the shooting. NewsdayTV’s Cecilia Dowd reports. Credit: Newsday/James Carbone; Howard Schnapp

Suffolk County police have deployed a "strike force" of officers in the Shirley neighborhood of Rep. Lee Zeldin, where two 17-year-old boys were shot in a drive-by shooting Sunday afternoon, Suffolk Police Commissioner Rodney K. Harrison said Monday. 

"I’m always concerned about retaliation, so putting this strike force together and grabbing officers throughout the county and kind of flooding them in a certain community is our M.O.," said Harrison, who spoke to reporters near the shooting scene Monday morning. "We always do that type of police work. We’re in the business of protecting the residents of Suffolk County." 

Police are investigating whether the shooting on Zeldin's street — which left the teenage victims with what police have said are non-life threatening injuries —  has any nexus to gang activity, Harrison said. 

"It’s still preliminary," said Harrison. "Have we seen some gang concerns out here in Shirley? Yes, we have. I can’t sit here and say that this is the motive for this shooting incident. But we’ll take a look at it.”

WHAT TO KNOW

  • Suffolk police officials deployed a "strike force" to a Shirley neighborhood home to Rep. Lee Zeldin hours after a drive-by-shooting injured two teens.
  • Suffolk Police Commissioner Rodney Harrison said police were investigating whether the shooting was targeted or gang-related.
  • The shooting happened Sunday at 2:19 p.m. when an occupant of a dark-colored vehicle fired multiple gunshots at three teenagers on Saint George Drive.

Harrison added: "I want to say it looks like it might have been targeted, but once again, I can’t say that with conviction. Once again, it’s still early on in the investigation." 

The shooting occurred Sunday at 2:19 p.m., according to police, when an occupant of a dark-colored vehicle fired multiple gunshots through the car's window at three teenagers walking on Saint George Drive. 

One of the victims ran from the scene while the two others attempted to hide in the yard of a home on the street. Zeldin, the Republican nominee for governor who is running on a tough-on-crime platform, has said it was his home, where one victim was found lying underneath the porch and the other under a bush. The victims, who police did not identify, are from Mastic and Mastic Beach, police said.

Two women who identified themselves as the mother and aunt of one of the shooting victims spoke to Newsday reporters at the scene. The mother, who declined to provide her full name, said her son, a senior at William Floyd High School, was struck by a bullet in the left arm and chest, but is now recovering at home. The boy's aunt said the family had moved to the area from Amityville about a year ago. 

Zeldin, who spoke to reporters outside his home, has said his 16-year-old twin daughters were doing homework at their kitchen table when the shooting occurred. They ran inside a bathroom and called 911, said Zeldin, who was returning home with his wife from a Bronx Columbus Day parade at the time of the shooting. Zeldin said the girls were terrified but acted swiftly by calling police. 

"They didn't know if the three people who were on the property were targeting them," Zeldin said Monday morning. "They didn't know if these people were trying to get into the house. So it was a very emotional experience for them." 

No one in the Zeldin family was injured. Suffolk police said there was no connection between the shooting and the homeowner.

Zeldin, a congressman representing the state's 1st Congressional District since 2015, said a bullet grazed his wooden fence. 

"One of the bullets was found about 30 feet from where they were sitting," said Zeldin. "There's actually a graze on the wooden fence next to my house of where the bullet hit and then dropped." 

Zeldin said his home's security cameras picked up the three victims who fled the shooting, including one person who did not appear to be injured and was apparently on the phone, moving around about two minutes.

Maryann Badala, a neighbor, questioned whether the police were providing a robust response because the shooting occurred near Zeldin's home. 

"This community has had problems for a while," said Badala. "Now it takes something to happen next to the congressman's house. Now they are securing it, now there are police. Why now? Why not before? This isn't the first time something like this has happened." 

With James Carbone

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