Motive Unknown In NYC Shootout

Thursday, March 15th 2007, 7:07 am
By: News On 6

NEW YORK (AP) _ A gunman wearing a fake beard and carrying 100 rounds of ammunition fatally shot a pizzeria employee and two unarmed volunteer police officers in Greenwich Village before other officers shot him to death, the mayor said Thursday.

Authorities were investigating why David Gavin, 32, went into a pizzeria around 9 p.m. Wednesday, asked for a menu and then shot an employee 15 times in the back before fleeing, Mayor Michael Bloomberg said.

A neighborhood resident, Tina Lourenco, said she saw the gunman and recognized him as a former employee of the pizzeria.

Nicholas Todd Pekearo and Eugene Marshalik, two of the city's nearly 4,500 auxiliary police officers, responded to the shooting and approached Gavin, who crossed the street and fired at them. Auxiliary officers are civilian volunteers who wear uniforms, are unarmed and help patrol streets.

Gavin then exchanged gunfire with regular officers, the mayor said. Several officers suffered minor injuries.

Authorities recovered the 9mm semiautomatic pistol Gavin fired, plus a .380-caliber semiautomatic handgun in a bag with the ammunition, Police Commissioner Raymond Kelly said. Gavin shot at least 23 rounds.

``He appeared to be ready to take even more lives,'' Kelly said.

A worker in a nearby restaurant, Nikola Simic, said he saw police officers swarm toward the middle of the street where the auxiliary officers were slain.

``Then we heard a shooting that was like a good five minutes,'' Simic said.

Police identified the employee as Alfredo Romaro, 35.

Pekearo, 28, was a writer with a book scheduled to be published soon, the mayor said. Marshalik, 19, a student at nearby New York University, had immigrated from Russia, Bloomberg said. The mayor said Marshalik hoped eventually to join the police force.

``Tonight was a horrible night for the New York Police Department and for our city,'' Bloomberg said. ``Two men who volunteered their time to make our city the safest big city in America lost their lives helping to keep it exactly that way.''

City officials said the two auxiliary officers would get full police honors at their funerals.

Marshalik and Pekearo were the first New York City auxiliary police officers to die in the line of duty since 1993, according to the mayor. Only five other auxiliary officers have died in the line of duty in the city's history.

The shooting scene is near NYU's downtown campus, close to Washington Square Park and famous bars and restaurants including Cafe Wha?, where Bob Dylan used to perform.

Residents said they were shocked by the violence.

``It's very not typical of the area,'' said Amy Stoyko, who watched investigators working on her cordoned-off street.

Romana Raffetto, who lives above her pasta shop next door to the pizzeria, said she did not realize what was happening when the shots rang out.

``I'm so dumb,'' she said. ``I heard shooting but I didn't pay attention. I live here since 1960 and you always hear sirens.''

Nearby, someone had taped a sign to a lamppost along with pink silk flowers. It read: ``Rest in peace, our beloved auxiliaries.''