Both New York Gov. Kathy Hochul and Lee Zeldin, the Republican nominee in the gubernatorial race, spoke out 10 days after the shocking hotel killing of a father visiting his son at Marist College.
Zeldin — who has made crime a safety a cornerstone of his campaign — said Dutchess County District Attorney William Grady should address concerns that not enough was done to take wanted gunman Roy Johnson off the streets of Poughkeepsie before he fired more than two dozen bullets in and around the Marriott Courtyard — killing a father of 3.
“I would absolutely welcome the opportunity for that DA to provide more insight as to what the person had the warrant out for, what he was investigating, what else was factoring into that particular decision,” Zeldin said.
Johnson was wanted on a felony warrant for gun and drug charges out of Georgia and was placed in a national data base in July. In August, police have said he was a suspect in a separate gang-related murder in Poughkeepsie.
Numerous law enforcement officials said there was the opportunity to pick Johnson up on the warrant, but the investigation into the homicide was ongoing. The DA and Poughkeepsie police have said Johnson was making efforts to elude capture — even traveling out of state. But law enforcement officials critical of the handling of the case said Dutchess County and Poughkeepsie city police never asked US Marshals or an anti-crime task force led by the FBI for assistance in finding Johnson before the Oct. 2 shooting at the Marriott.
Zeldin said he wants to know more about what investigators did and did not do — and why.
“One of the first things I would want to know is more facts as to why a person wouldn’t be arrested,” Zeldin said. “As a prosecutor, as soon as you first hit enough facts to be able to arrest somebody sometimes it’s part of a bigger case before the arrest is made.”
As many as 30 shots were fired by the alleged hotel gunman who killed a Long Island father visiting his son at Marist College, according to the indictments. NBC New York Jonathan Dienst reports.
Zeldin went on to say that there was a big difference, in his view, between questions about the way DA Grady, a Republican, handled of the Johnson investigation after the July warrant and August homicide — and policy positions taken by Democratic Manhattan District Attorney Alvin Bragg regarding charging arrested individuals.
“Alvin Bragg came in on day one and actually stated in his day one memo that all across the board all sorts of offenses he just wasn’t going to charge and all sorts of other offenses he said he was going to charge as lesser and included Offenses,” Zeldin said.
Zeldin has previously stated that if he wins the November election, he would use his power as governor to remove the duly elected Manhattan DA.
The GOP nominee said he was willing to give the Dutchess County DA the benefit of the, for now, and that he’d be willing to hear out why Johnson hadn’t been arrested before he allegedly doubted shot up the hotel lobby and took the life of Long Island father Paul Kutz. Zeldin said he would “need more information.”
As for Hochul, a spokesperson did not directly address the controversy about whether Johnson should have been in custody well before the October hotel shooting. Instead, in a statement, Hochul said her thoughts were with the Kutz family as they mourn their loss, and that her “top priority is to keep New Yorkers safe and she continues to work every day with law enforcement and local officials to improve the criminal justice system, combat violence, and strengthen public safety in communities across the state.”