A photo from the scene the morning after the attack. (Source: NYDailyNews.com)
The Marine Park man accused of attempting to kill rowdy teenagers hanging out in front of his house last year will face a new trial after a judge called a mistrial when jurors hit a deadlock.
Thomas Dunikowski made headlines in June 2011, when he allegedly opened fire on a group of teens who refused to leave his Stuart Street stoop. Dunikowski, who has an arrest record for domestic incidents, allegedly grabbed his semi-automatic hunting rifle and perched himself at his second floor window, firing down on the teens. He struck two of them, and a fragment hit a resident. None were seriously injured, though all three were hospitalized. According to the New York Post at the time, the kids had been roaming the streets around midnight, knocking over trash cans and vandalizing cars before Dunikowski confronted them.
Dunikowski was initially charged with assault, intent to cause serious injury with a weapon, unlawful use of a loaded firearm, reckless endangerment and resisting arrest.
After the jury deadlocked last month, the judge called a mistrial, and pre-trial hearings began this week, according to a report in the print edition of the Bay News that does not appear online.
Dunikowski will face a new trial on all charges, including attempted murder – which has his attorney, Jay Schwitzman, outraged. According to Schwitzman, the jury had voted unanimously to acquit his client of the attempted murder charge, based on a claim of self-defense, before they failed to reach an agreement on the lesser charges.
Schwitzman added that the judge declared a mistrial before the jury could deliver their verdict on the attempted murder charge in open court, allowing the District Attorney to prosecute the charge again. The paper could not verify Schwitzman’s claims of a unanimous decision.
Dunikowski’s defense against the murder charge was based on a claim that it was self-defense, and that he and his Stuart Street neighbors feared for their lives. They offered panicked calls to 911 from Dunikowski and his neighbors as evidence.
“The people of Stuart Street wre scared for their lives,” Schwitzman told the paper. “These teens were notjust kicking cars and turning over trash cans – they were trashing everything they could find and would not stop, even when the police were being summoned. The teens were out there to harm Mr. Dunokowski and the 911 calls that were made back that up.”