Police Set Up Checkpoint at Oheka Castle to Gather Possible Leads on Gunman - NBC New York

Chief Investigative Reporter Jonathan Dienst on crime, corruption and terrorism.

Police Set Up Checkpoint at Oheka Castle to Gather Possible Leads on Gunman



    Police are stopping drivers near Oheka Castle on Long Island, looking for possible clues in the shooting of Gary Melius. The politically connected owner of the upscale wedding venue released a statement from his hospital bed. Andrew Siff reports. (Published Tuesday, Feb. 25, 2014)

    A checkpoint has been set up at the upscale wedding venue on Long Island where the politically-connected owner was shot in the head Monday as police seek information on who may have targeted him.

    Suffolk County Police said the checkpoint at Oheka Castle is "informational" to try and gather leads.

    Gary Melius was gunned down as he sat in his car at the sprawling mansion Monday afternoon. Police have released little details about the suspect, only that he may have been wearing a mask.

    Melius is recovering in the hospital and has been able to speak with detectives, police said.

    Owner of Lavish Wedding Venue Shot in Head

    [NY] Owner of Lavish Wedding Venue Shot in Head
    The owner of a prominent wedding venue on Long Island where celebrities and dignitaries have held their lavish nuptials was shot in the head at the sprawling mansion Monday. Ida Siegal reports.
    (Published Tuesday, Feb. 25, 2014)

    He said in a statement Tuesday that "this near-death experience has done anything, it is a reminder to live each day, celebrate life and embrace your family."

    Ronald Rosenberg, a Melius friend and attorney, said he visited his pal in the hospital on the day of the shooting, and spoke with him on Tuesday, and found him in good shape.

    "He certainly seemed to be completely familiar with his surroundings and people that were there wishing him well," Rosenberg said.

    Melius, who bought the 100-year-old property in 1984, was part of a political controversy last year that resulted in the ouster of then-Nassau County Police Commissioner Thomas Dale over the arrest of a witness in an election lawsuit.

    The district attorney found that Dale had instructed officers to arrest a 29-year-old Roosevelt man, who had testified in an unrelated case that he had been paid to collect signatures for a third-party candidate. Melius, a supporter of the third-party candidate, then contacted Dale seeking to have the young man investigated. The young man was arrested on an outstanding warrant while riding a county bus on Oct. 5.

    An investigation by the Nassau County district attorney found no evidence of criminal wrongdoing but raised questions about the ethics of Dale's actions, leading to his resignation.

    Oheka Castle, which is also a hotel offering $1,095-a-night suites, says on its website that it can accommodate up to 1,000 wedding guests.

    In addition to weddings, the castle hosts fundraisers, galas and numerous other high-profile events.

    The oldest member of the Jonas Brothers, Kevin Jonas, was married at the 109,000-square-foot French-style chateau in 2009. Former President Bill Clinton officiated the wedding of Anthony Weiner, ex- congressman and mayoral candidate, at the castle in 2010.

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