The fate of Thomas Dunikowski, the “Stuart Street Sniper” who opened fire on a group of rowdy teens outside of his Marine Park home two years ago, is up to the judgment of his peers now that arguments have ended in his attempted murder trial.
The jury is currently deliberating on whether the now-32-year-old man acted in self-defense when he fired 27 shots from his Bushmaster semi-automatic assault rifle and injured three people, including a 17-year-old boy he shot through the neck.
“We’re waiting for the jury to come back with a verdict,” said a spokesman for District Attorney Charles Hynes.
The trial pertains to an altercation Dunikowski had with a group of teenagers at 11:30 pm on June 18, 2011.
That night, Dunikowski found the teens ripping open garbage bags, throwing trash onto his property, vandalizing cars, and generally causing a royal ruckus, says Dunikowski’s attorney, Jay Schwitzman.
“The people of Stuart Street were scared for their lives,” Schwitzman explained. “These teens were not just 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 argument escalated and Dunikowski punched 17-year-old Francis Ruan in the face, before retreating into his home. Dunikowski emerged several minutes later from a window in the second floor of his house, holding an assault rifle, according to court documents.
He then fired 27 rounds into the crowd, striking Ruan in the neck, according to court documents. Two other people, a 21-year-old woman and a 15-year-old boy, were injured by bullets that ricochetted off the concrete, according to court documents. The attack earned Dunikowski the dubious moniker of the “Stuart Street Sniper.”
Police claim that Dunikowski then hid in his bedroom. Police say they found him “pretending” to sleep, before hauling him into a squard car kicking and screaming.
Paramedics rushed Ruan to Coney Island Hospital for surgery, according to court documents. Ruan now suffers nerve damage as a result of his wounds.
Dunikowski claimed at the trial that he fired in self-defense. Schwitzman blamed his client’s actions on a tardy, or non-existent New York Police Department response in dealing with the raucous youths. The lawyer said during the trial that in the absence of police, the protection of the block was left to Dunikowski.
“Tom did what the police wouldn’t do,” Schwitzman said during closing arguments on June 17, as reported by Gothamist. “Tom protected his home, his wife, his neighbors, and himself.”
Dunikowski faces 25-years in prison if found guilty.Reach reporter Colin Mixson at cmixson@cn