Nassau County police arrested an alleged murder suspect in Uniondale just minutes after he fled the scene of the slaying Monday, police said.
Acting on a ShotSpotter notification alerting them to the scene and 911 calls from witnesses, two officers spotted the vehicle fleeing south on Uniondale Avenue and apprehended 35-year-old Joel Arquimides Ayala Deras of Westbury, police said. He was charged with second-degree murder.
The two First Precinct officers—Christopher DiGregorio and Gary Butt—also discovered shotgun casings and a .44-caliber handgun on the floor of the car. A subsequent search turned up a shotgun that police believe was used in the slaying, along with a .380-caliber handgun.
The victim, 37-year-old German Ismael Saravia Melendez, was fatally shot in the head and back, acting-Nassau County Police Commissioner Thomas Krumpter said at a press conference at police headquarters in Mineola Wednesday. Melendez was pronounced dead by an ambulance technician 20 minutes after the shooting.
Krumpter credited the two officers for their “keen” observations while racing toward the scene of the shooting.
“ShotSpotter is a great tool but without the great police work by the officers involved, the keen observation, road conditions were pretty horrific…they were able to respond in a timely fashion,” said Krumpter, who was flanked by police brass and officers Butt and DiGregorio.
Investigators have yet to determine a motive for the shooting, Krumpter said. But officials did say that the two men were acquaintances and had an ongoing dispute. Neither have gang ties.
The shooting occurred at 9:44 p.m. Monday, police said. Authorities were alerted to the vicinity near Macon Place and Irving Place by the ShotSpotter alert, which is activated when gunshots are registered in communities where the technology is installed. Calls to 911 and the ShotSpotter alerts came in almost simultaneously, police said.
Witnesses provided police with a description of the car, and the two officers were able to act on that information almost immediately.
“ShotSpotter didn’t jump off the telephone pole and arrest the defendants,” Krumpter told reporters. “In this case it was the police officers who were responding to the scene; the adrenaline’s pumping, and they’re responding to a shots fired and they were paying attention to what was going on around them on Uniondale Avenue where they observed the vehicle fleeing the scene.”
Krumpter defended the department’s perceived failure to adequately alert the public to a homicide, saying the primary responsibility of the department is to conduct probes without compromising investigations.
Police did not release details of the fatal shooting until late Tuesday.
This is the first homicide in Nassau in 2016. The first fatal shooting in Suffolk was Jan. 17 in North Bay Shore, police said. In that case, 44-year-old Marcelo Argueta Chicas’ lifeless body was discovered with a gunshot wound. The shooting, which also registered on ShotSpotter, remains unsolved.
Deras will be arraigned Wednesday at First District Court in Hempstead.