The armed man shot and killed by NYPD officers on the Belt Parkway after allegedly ramming a police cruiser that had pulled him over for speeding has been identified as a 65-year-old from Brooklyn with a half-dozen prior arrests, cops said Friday.
Brian Astarita's most recent arrest was for aggravated unlicensed operation of a vehicle, police officials confirmed to News 4. It wasn't clear exactly when that happened, nor were details on his other prior arrests immediately clear.
Astarita lived in Bath Beach with his wife and daughter, but no one answered the door on Friday. Neighbors said he mostly kept to himself.
He was taken to the hospital with a gunshot wound to the leg after Thursday's p.m. incident, which shut down the highway and caused miles-long backups in both directions, and later died, law enforcement sources have said.
According to investigators, highway officers initially tried to pull Astarita over for speeding near Bay 8th Street just after 4 p.m., but he rear-ended an officer and continued heading east in a Jeep.
Backup units caught up to him near the Bay Parkway exit, which is when police say Astarita stopped his vehicle near Gravesend's Cropsey Avenue and got out of the SUV with a weapon.
NYPD Chief Rodney Harrison said he "advanced toward an officer with a gun" and ignored police warnings to stop, which is when they opened fire.
Police said that a weapon was recovered at the scene. A witness who was in Astarita's Jeep at the time captured the deadly showdown between him and police on cellphone video. More than a dozen gunshots could be heard ringing out.