Oheka Castle owner Gary Melius issued his first statement Tuesday since he was shot in the head outside the palatial Huntington catering hall and hotel he calls home while authorities continue searching for the masked gunman who targeted him.
“From the bottom of my heart I will be forever grateful to the people who have offered prayers and best wishes, to the doctors who worked on me and, most of all, to my family who are clearly made of very strong stuff,” Melius said in the statement.
“I look forward to coming home,” he added. “I look forward to getting back to work. And I look forward to welcoming families and friends who come to Oheka for its hospitality and warmth.”
The influential political donor and businessman is “improving and resting comfortably” with family, Suffolk County police said. Police officers and security were posted at the hospital as protocol and “not because we have had a specific threat,” police said in a statement.
Suffolk police Tuesday put up a checkpoint outside the Huntington castle’s main entrance on Jericho Turnpike and conducted interviews with drivers to ascertain whether any passersby knew anything about the suspect.
“We may be doing this later in the week depending on how the investigation progresses,” police said in a statement.
Authorities said they still don’t know if the suspect is male or female.
Melius was shot in the parking lot of the castle as he was entering his vehicle around 12:30 p.m. Monday. A family member had driven Melius to a nearby hospital before police arrived.
Melius did not exchange any words with his attacker, police said.
Former Sen. Alfonse D’Amato said on Twitter that Melius “is in good spirits.” The ex-senator-turned-lobbyist added that “Gary is thankful for the grace of God that saved his life.”
Melius has been indiscriminate in his campaign contributions, doling out thousands to politicians on both side of the aisle from Nassau County Executive Ed Mangano, a Republican, to Nassau County Minority Leader Kevan Abrahams (D-Freeport), according to state finance records. Melius has donated hefty amounts to lawmakers across the Island, including Suffolk County Executive Steve Bellone, a Democrat, and his competitor in his first race for that position, Republican Suffolk County Treasurer Angie Carpenter.
Melius also apparently had the ear of former Nassau County Police Commissioner Thomas Dale, who was ousted in December after it came to light that the then-commissioner ordered the arrest of a Roosevelt resident at Melius’ request. Melius wanted the man, Randy White, charged with perjury after testifying in an election lawsuit regarding the campaign of a Nassau County Executive hopeful whose campaign Melius was bankrolling. Dale instead charged White on an open warrant for an unpaid fine.
“If this near death experience has done anything it is a reminder to live each day, celebrate life and embrace your family,” Melius said in his statement. “I happen to be blessed with a very very large extended family who rallied to my side during the past 24 hours. God bless you all.”