A Bloods gang beef may have prompted the shooting outside the Long Island home of gubernatorial candidate Lee Zeldin, police sources said Monday — as the brother of one of the targets admitted he first thought his sibling was joking about the gunplay.
Neighbors also described the pandemonium that broke out — with one of the victims crying and screaming, “Oh, my God!’ as bullets flew on the typically bucolic Shirley street around 2:20 p.m. Sunday, injuring two teens.
“At first we didn’t believe him,” Tyvon Smith, 26, told The Post of his 15-year-old brother, Tyler, who was among three teens apparently targeted in the bloody, possibly gang-related drive-by.
“Tyler came over in shock,” Smith said of the moment his sibling, a high-school sophomore, approached him after the shooting.
“He was crying, saying that his friends, his brothers, got shot. He said they were shooting at him, too. They were driving by and just took some shots at them, and Tyler just got lucky.
“At first we didn’t believe him,” Tyvon Smith, 26, told The Post of his brother, Tyler, who was among three teens apparently targeted in the bloody, possibly gang-related drive-by.
“I said he was just kidding, just playing, that he was just playing too many video games,” Smith said.
Smith said his brother and his two buddies “were walking to the store” when the gunfire erupted.
“Maybe he had a problem with someone, and they seen him, and they took a shot,” he said of his brother. “I’m happy he didn’t get hit.”
A neighbor recounted the terrifying moment when the shots rang out.
“I heard the gunshots, seven to nine of them, and I went into my daughter’s room,” Tonya Vasquez, who lives across the street, told The Post.
“I heard the screaming, a young man’s voice screaming, ‘Call 911! Call 911!’ Just crying and screaming, ‘Oh, my God! Oh, my God!,’” she said.
“He ran over to the corner, and the heavier-set kid came out near the stop sign,” said Vasquez, 37. “My daughter was yelling at me, ‘Don’t go out there! Don’t go out there!’
“One skinny and tall, and the other one kind of heavy-set. The thinner kid had on black jeans and a red do-rag on his head. The heavier kid was wearing a white T-shirt. He was on the phone screaming.”
Zeldin, a 46-year-old congressman who has campaigned for governor on a tough-on-crime platform, said Monday that his twin 16-year-old daughters, who were home alone at the time of the shooting, are still “pretty shaken.”
“My daughters ended up sleeping with my wife and I, all four of us were in the bedroom last night,” he said outside the Shirley home. “This was a lot for them to have to experience.”
Suffolk County police said three teenagers were walking on Saint George Drive West around 2:19 p.m. Sunday when “a dark-colored vehicle” drove by “and an occupant fired multiple gunshots through the vehicle’s window.”
Two of the teens, Joel Murphy and Elijah Robinson, both 17, were wounded after fleeing into Zeldin’s yard — with one stumbling over a Zeldin campaign sign.
Police sources said the shooting could be gang-related but have released few details of what prompted it.
“This is an unfortunate incident,” Suffolk County Police Commissioner Rodney Harrison said at the scene Monday morning. “The two victims shot, both were 17 years of age. One round struck Congressman Zeldin’s residence. His daughters were here and were rightfully shaken up.
“I see too many guns on the streets that’s happening,” Harrison said. “We gotta get the guns out of these individuals’ hands.”
Zeldin, a Republican, has represented District 1 in the House of Representatives since 2015 and is challenging Gov. Kathy Hochul for her seat in November.
Zeldin has staked his campaign in large part on a tough-on-crime platform and has been vocal in opposition to the state’s 2019 bail reform measures.
On Monday, Hochul said she was happy Zeldin’s family wasn’t hurt.
“I’m so pleased that the family is safe,” the governor said. “It’s a reminder we need to work together to get guns off the street.”
Additional reporting by Haley Brown