The “Stuart Street sniper” — the man arrested for opening fire on a group of Marine Park teens in June, wounding two of them — is facing up to 25 years in prison, prosecutors announced on Aug. 16 as indictment charges were officially filed against 30-year-old Thomas Dunikowski.
Police say Dunikowski was arguing with a group of teens walking by his home near Fillmore Avenue at 11:30 pm on June 18 when he allegedly punched one of them in the face. He then ran into his home where, seconds later, he appeared at his second floor window armed with a Bushmaster semi-automatic rifle.
District Attorney Charles Hynes claims that Dunikowski fired around 20 shots at the teens, hitting 17-year-old Midwood resident Francis Ruan — the teen he had punched earlier — in the neck. Bullets also ricochetted off the concrete, hitting a 15-year-old boy and one of Dunikowski’s neighbors.
Police say when they arrived at the scene, Dunikowski jumped into bed, and pretended to be asleep.
He fought off the cops as they took him into custody, charging him with attempted murder and assault. The rifle was found inside its plastic case, police sources said.
Jay Schwitzman, Dunikowski’s attorney, contends that Dunikowski shot at drugged-up teens in self defense.
“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.”
Yet friends of the victims claim that Dunikowski was the unhinged, drunken thug — not the children walking by his house.
Marine Park mom Rose Ballentonio, whose child managed to flee the shooting scene unscathed, claims that Dunikowski and his neighbors were drunk when they threw a beer can at the teens as they walked down Stuart Street on their way to the Marine Park basketball courts.
“One of the [kids] had the audacity to throw the can back,” she told us in a letter. “Dunikowski could not let this threat pass without retaliation. So ‘brave’ Mr. Dunikowski picks out the closest [teen] and punches him, knocking off his glasses.”
None of these allegations were made last Tuesday when Dunikowski, who has been incarcerated since June, was produced and the indictment charges were formally read to him.
His $500,000 bail was continued, Judge Martin Murphy ordered.
Calls to Schwitzman for comment on last Tuesday’s hearing were not returned.