An off-duty cop who started his day at a firing range allegedly capped off his night by pulling up next to a car at a stop light in the Westchester town of Pelham and firing 13 rounds at the vehicle, nearly killing a passenger.
Investigators believe that 27-year-old Brendan Cronin, of Yonkers, began firing his 9mm Glock without provocation shortly before midnight on Tuesday. "As of right now it seems to be completely random,” Pelham police chief Joseph Chief Benefico told reporters yesterday. “We have nothing to link either party to each other — no road rage, nothing right now."
The unidentified 47-year-old victim, whom the Post identifies as Joe “The Truck” Felice, was sitting in the passenger side of the vehicle when he heard popping sounds and realized he had been shot. He then slumped down in the seat but still caught five more bullets. Fortunately, by slumping down he dodged a bullet that pierced the headrest.
One local resident who heard the shots reported seeing a bald motorist drive away from the shooting with his car's hazard lights on. Police soon stopped Cronin, who still had his hazards blinking. According to police, Cronin pointed his gun at officers after he was stopped but finally dropped the weapon after a tense standoff. He refused to take a breathalyzer test at the scene, and officials say he's said little since his arrest. But one source tells the Post that Cronin did not even remember firing his weapon.
Felice is in stable condition recovering from gunshot wounds to his lungs, arms and torso. The incident is being investigated by the town of Pelham police and the NYPD Internal Affairs Bureau. Cronin, who is a six year veteran of the NYPD assigned to the 46th Precinct in the Bronx, was suspended yesterday.
At his arraignment in Pelham last night, court officials prohibited the press from entering the courtroom. The Journal News reports:
Although arraignments are supposed to be open to the public, Pelham court officials appeared to have treated Cronin differently. A court clerk refused to allow a reporter from The Journal News into the courtroom, saying only Cronin's relatives were permitted inside. The two judges who handle arraignments in Pelham did not return messages seeking comment.
David Bookstaver, a spokesman for the state Office of Court Administration, said court personnel were out of line. "Arraignments are public proceedings and not conducted simply for family members," he said.
Sources tell the Post "the trouble all began when Cronin downed numerous drinks with some other cops at the end of a day that included a visit to the NYPD firing range in The Bronx."