A 52-year-old Bensonhurst resident who was a surly, yet beloved, fixture on the Coney Island Boardwalk died on Sept. 7 after he shot himself in the head — just as city marshals evicting him from his home banged on his door.
Police say Mike Salvatore had not paid the rent on his 71st Street apartment near 20th Avenue for the last 18 months. When marshals showed up just before 9 am to get him out, he took his own life.
“The Marshals were outside when they heard a shot,” an NYPD spokesman explained. “They gained entry and found the victim with a gunshot wound to his head.”
Salvatore, known by close friends as “Crazy Mike from Coney Island” was rushed to Lutheran Medical Center, where he later died of his injuries.
Neighbors said Salvatore, who was unemployed, had lived on 71st Street for more than three years.
The two sisters who owned the building were sitting in a car outside the home, making sure that the eviction order was enforced, when Salvatore shot himself.
One landlord, Roni Black, told reporters that she had taken Salvatore to court at least five times over the last year and a half as they tried to get him to either pay his rent or move out.
Beachgoers in Coney Island were stunned by Salvatore’s death. Friends said the heavily tattooed Salvatore would often hold court on the beach — which he often referred to as “Mike’s pool” — regaling friends and acquaintances with colorful — often foul-mouthed — stories about his checkered past.
“I’m a bad criminal, sometimes a perfect criminal,” he once boasted to a friend who interviewed him. “[When] I was 17 years old I went to the Marine recruiting office and the guy asked me if I had a criminal record. I said I had a juvenile criminal record. But he kept grilling me about it, asking me this and asking me that, so I sucker punched him and got locked up. I never went to the Marines after that.”
Yet, despite his bluster, many beachgoers found pearls of wisdom in Salvatore’s stories and antics — and filled his Facebook page with missives after hearing about his death.
“Last time I saw you, we had the ultimate conversation. You brought me back from a dark place,” wrote poster Gina Gargiulo. “I hope you’re resting easy Mike. You will be in my prayers and most definitely in my heart.”
Friends say they hope to raise money and have Salvatore cremated. They plan to spread his ashes over Coney Island.