A 19-year-old Manhattan resident was arrested for allegedly firing an air gun at a member of Mayor de Blasio's security detail on Sunday night. Prosecutors say that Michael Verbitsky confessed—but insisted that it was all an accident.
Police say that around 7:15 p.m. on August 24th, a police officer near Gracie Mansion was "struck in the back by an apparent BB/pellet," adding, "There have been two previous reports of apparent BB/ pellets causing damage to windows in this same area."
According to the Post, "Hearing a pop, the cops looked up, noticing a pair of moving curtains and a silhouette in an open window, the sources said," across the street at luxury condo 170 East End Avenue.
With the help of a doorman, they located the apartment — but Verbitsky and his 18-year-old girlfriend, Gabrielle Gleyberman, told the officers they couldn’t enter without a search warrant, the sources said.
When the cops went downstairs, Verbitsky and his gal pal allegedly attempted to sneak out through the basement, but officers apprehended them outside.
Cops found the air gun hidden in a drop ceiling in the 4,400-square-foot apartment, where Verbitsky was staying while his parents were in the Hamptons, sources said.
The Times adds the apartment was "filled with Persian rugs, ornate clocks, original artwork, gilded ceilings, fabric wallpaper."
The Daily News reports, "Verbitsky told cops he was 'f---ing around with the gun.'... He also said he was surprised it fired because he thought the safety was on, the sources said." And by "fucking around with the gun," Verbitsky apparently meant "aiming it at the park." He'll shoot his eye out!
Assistant District Attorney Lee Langston said “there is no evidence to suggest” Verbitsky was aiming for cops, but that “he still did fire a pellet gun out of the 10th-floor window.”
Verbitsky’s lawyer, Howard Levine, called the incident “just an accidental discharge of a BB gun by a 19-year-old individual.”
Verbitsky, whose previous arrests include petit larceny, criminal possession of a controlled substance and robbery, was charged with assault on a police officer, reckless endangerment, criminal possession of a forged instruments, criminal possession of a weapon and criminal mischief. Gleyberman, who was allegedly sleeping during the incident, was released without charges.
An Instagram account, @mikexverb, for a Michael Verbitsky and with photographs of a man who looks a lot like Verbitsky, was taken down overnight:
The pellet pierced the skin of the police officer, Kelly Briant. She was treated and released from Lenox Hill Hospital.
His lawyer also denied that Verbitsky was behind other BB/pellet gun incidents in the neighborhood. The Times notes, "A Con Edison worker reported on Monday having been struck the week before by something that left a red welt on his shoulder. He came forward after seeing news reports about the officer hit by a pellet near the same spot he had been working, the police said." Further reportage indicates that Verbitsky is your average 19-year-old:
Residents of the apartment building said officers swarmed East End Avenue on Sunday night. “We had no idea what was going on,” Shannon Weinhaus said. “I just immediately felt very sad for his family, because I knew he’d be in loads of trouble.”
She said she did not know Mr. Verbitsky, but that her husband, Fred Weinhaus, recognized his face. A few weeks earlier, the two had shared the elevator, Mr. Weinhaus said on Monday while standing outside the building.
When they arrived in the lobby, Mr. Weinhaus let him out first, without receiving a thank you. He said “You’re welcome” as Mr. Verbitsky left, but the teenager never turned around.