Gary Melius, the politically connected owner of Oheka Castle in Huntington, was shot and wounded at the sprawling Gold Coast estate on Monday, Suffolk County police said.
The 69-year-old, who lives at the catering hall, hotel and restaurant, was hit by gunfire while apparently getting into his vehicle before a family member drove him to a nearby hospital, police said. He was described as alert and conscious before going into surgery, police said.
A Suffolk County police spokeswoman confirmed that officers responded to a report of a man shot in the parking lot outside Oheka at 12:30 p.m., but few other details were available in the early stage of the investigation.
“I’ve had my differences with Gary politically, but this is really just a tremendously awful act,” Nassau County Democratic Chairman Jay Jacobs said. “This is shocking and sickening.”
Police are searching for a masked gunman. Multiple news outlets reported that the gunman fled in a gray Jeep Cherokee.
Melius, known as a power-broker among local political circles, has often hosted card games and meals at the sprawling mansion-estate-turned-luxury hotel, restaurant, catering and wedding hall, with guests ranging from former U.S. Sen. Al D’Amato to Nassau County Executive Ed Mangano and Rep. Peter King (R-Seaford). Oheka has also been the site of high-profile marriages, including that of disgraced former Congressman Anthony Weiner (which former President Bill Clinton officiated) and pop sensation Kevin Jonas of The Jonas Brothers.
The developer has also contributed generously throughout the years to numerous political campaigns, including Republican, Democratic and Independence Party candidates.
Melius made headlines in December when authorities announced that he had asked then-Nassau County Police Commissioner Thomas Dale to arrest a man who was a witness in an campaign-season election lawsuit that effectively aimed to help Dale’s boss, Mangano, win re-election.
Mangano fired Dale when details of the case were made public.
K-9 and aviation units searched the area for the suspect. Investigators are reviewing surveillance video for clues. Second Squad detectives are continuing the investigation.