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Drive-by shooting outside Republican candidate Lee Zeldin's home, family unhurt

U.S. Rep. Lee Zeldin (R-N.Y.)
Jacquelyn Martin

The Republican candidate for governor, Lee Zeldin, who has made the rising crime rate an issue in his campaign, saw gun violence hit close to home on Sunday, when a drive by shooting left two people injured in his front yard. No one in the Zeldin family was hurt.

Zeldin was campaigning at a Columbus Day parade in the Bronx Sunday afternoon with his wife, when a call came from one of their twin 16-year-old daughters. They were alone at the family’s suburban Long Island house and had been doing their homework at the kitchen table.

The girls heard gunshots outside in their front yard, and then people screaming. Both daughters then locked themselves in an upstairs bathroom. And while one called her parents, the other had already called 9-1-1. The Zeldin’s sped home, trying not to panic. The Congressman contacted law enforcement sources, his wife stayed on the line with his daughters.

“She stayed on the phone with the girls during the drive,” said Zeldin. “While her heart was clearly racing, she was just talking to them to try to keep them calm, as opposed to her freaking out, too.”

One of the shooting victims was found underneath the Zeldin’s front porch, another in the bushes in the yard. Both 17-year-old males were taken to the hospital, where they are being treated for their injuries and are expected to survive. One of the bullets lodged just 30 feet from where the daughters had been sitting.

Suffolk County police said they believe the shooting is unrelated to Zeldin’s role as a candidate for governor, or as a U.S. Congressman. Police said three teens were walking along the street when a “dark-colored vehicle went by and an occupant fired multiple gunshots through the vehicle’s window.” They say the third teen fled the on foot.

Zeldin’s house is equipped with four security cameras, and he said three people were visible in recordings from the cameras, which the police are analyzing.

Zeldin has made the rising crime rate and the state’ s controversial bail reform laws, that ended many forms of cash bail, a focus of his campaign, and he has appeared at many crime scenes around the state to talk about the issue. But he said he never expected his house to become a crime scene.

“I’m standing in front of crime scene tape, in front of my own house,” Zeldin said. “You can’t get me more outraged than right now.”

“We’re more pissed off today than we were when we woke up this morning,” he continued.

Governor Kathy Hochul, a Democrat who is Zeldin’s opponent in the race, said in a statement that she had been briefed on the shooting outside of the Congressman’s house. She said that she is “relieved to hear the Zeldin family is safe and (that she’s) grateful for law enforcement's quick response.”

Karen has covered state government and politics for New York State Public Radio, a network of 10 New York and Connecticut stations, since 1990. She is also a regular contributor to the statewide public television program about New York State government, New York Now. She appears on the reporter’s roundtable segment, and interviews newsmakers.