HUNTINGTON STATION, N.Y. (PIX11) – An alleged gang member from Huntington Station is charged with attempted aggravated murder and resisting arrest, accused of shooting Suffolk County Police Officer Mark Collins. The Suffolk County District Attorney says 22-year-old Sheldon Leftanant, a known member of the “Tip Top Boyz” gang, was running from police and allegedly fired his gun when officer Collins tried to arrest him.
Suffolk County District Attorney Thomas Spota said Leftentant was in the backseat of a car that was speeding and swerving down Jericho Turnpike in Huntington Station just before midnight Wednesday. When the car passed an unmarked police car with three gang unit officers in it, the officers turned on their emergency lights and pulled the car over. During the stop, Leftenant allegedly got out of the car and began to run.
Collins chased Leftenant to Mercer Court. The officer had a tazer, but no gun drawn, when he tried to arrest the suspect. That’s when another officer, also in pursuit of Leftanant, heard four gunshots. Collins was shot in the hip and neck. He was airlifted to Stony Brook Medical Center where doctors have induced a coma and say he is in serious condition.
Leftanant fled the shooting scene but after an hour long manhunt officers say they found him hiding in a shed. A 38 caliber handgun was found in a nearby yard.
“The defendant did make oral admissions to detectives saying, ‘I did what I had to do, I couldn’t let him find my gun, so I ran,'” Spota told reporters at the criminal courthouse in Central Islip where Leftanant was arraigned Thursday afternoon.
Spota said officer Collins, who has been working the departments gang unit in Huntington Station for some time, recognized Leftanant during the traffic stop because of his gang involvement. If Leftanant is convicted, he could face a maximum of 40 years to life in prison. A lawyer representing Leftanant said his client maintains his innocence.
Neighbors in Leftanant’s North Bellmore community were shocked by the news and say they are praying for his recovery.
“He does everything for everyone around here, said Diane Moftan. “When it snows he brings out the snow blower, when I am shoveling he wants to shovel.”
Collins, a 35 year old husband with no children, is a 12 year police veteran. In 2008 he was voted Suffolk County Police Department’s officer of the year. He also serves as a volunteer firefighter. Doctors expect Collins to make a full recovery.