NEW YORK — Cool-headed police officers arrested a 33-year-old man Wednesday after he became unhinged in an argument over an EZ-Pass, firing wildly into the street and hurling a chair and clothing out his front window, the NYPD said.
Derek Gallo was being held at a police precinct, and weapons possession and other charges were pending. It wasn't clear if he had an attorney, and a call to his home rang unanswered.
The argument with his landlord and friend, Michael Piscotti, seemed out of the blue, Piscotti told police. The two have known each other for decades, they grew up in the same neighborhood, and were living in the two-story home in Brooklyn that Piscotti inherited from his parents.
At about 1:15 a.m. Wednesday, Gallo went downstairs and knocked on Piscotti's door, accusing him of stealing an EZ-Pass, which is used instead of cash at tolls, police said. Piscotti said he didn't have it, and Gallo left, only to return about 15 minutes later, and pistol-whipped Piscotti with a loaded Glock handgun, said Chief NYPD police spokesman Paul Browne.
Piscotti ran about two blocks and dialed 911. Officers were on scene in minutes, and Sgt. Roger Delucia stationed his crew outside, because there was no safe way to go near Gallo's front door. The elite Emergency Services Unit also responded.
They yelled for Gallo to come down, and he yelled back an obscenity, Browne said.
Then Gallo opened the middle window and fired eight rounds on the officers below, hitting a police car and some other vehicles parked on the street. He later started tossing things out the window, including a cafÃ© chair, black sneaker, and a shirt. He even tossed the gun out onto the awning, and later went out to try and retrieve it.
An officer crouching behind one of the cars yelled for Gallo to leave the gun, and kick it into the bushes below, which he did, Browne said. ESU officers were suited and ready to break into the apartment when one called to Gallo that it was no big deal, and he should just come downstairs, which he did, Browne said.
Gallo was arrested without incident. Aside from Piscotti's head wound, no injuries were reported, and no police shots were fired.
Police Commissioner Raymond Kelly lauded the efforts of the officers who diffused a dangerous situation.
"Sgt. Delucia and the others employed outstanding, life-saving tactics that reflected well on the supervisors' decades of experience," Kelly said.
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Gallo has a prior arrest for firing an illegal weapon in public, as well as several arrests for driving while intoxicated, police said. The Glock recovered by police on Wednesday was also illegal, authorities are investigating how he got it.