A messenger from Springfield Gardens with a head full of inventions was shot and killed by police officers last week as he charged toward them wielding a pellet gun that looked like a revolver, police said.
Etzel Faulkner, 43, was gunned down just one block from his home on 144th Drive April 16 after he broke the rear windshield of his ex-employer's BMW, demanding money he said his former boss owed him from seven years ago, police said.
The employer, Michael Roessner, owner of MTR Express messenger service, called the police, who followed the Faulkner to the corner of 144th Terrace and 167th Street. Faulkner got out of his white Honda and pointed what looked like a black revolver at the four officers pursuing him, said Roessner, who watched the scene unfold from the back seat of a police car.
"I thought it was a real gun," he said. "To see a guy charging at the cops with a big gun - it's just surreal. You could not tell it was a fake gun."
At 5-foot-3 with youthful facial features, Faulkner looked more like a teenager than a middle-aged man, Roessner said.
The officers, whose names have not been released, fired five or six shots, striking Faulkner in the incident that took place around noon, police said. He was taken to Mary Immaculate Hospital in critical condition and pronounced dead at 12:50 p.m., police said.
The officers, who are assigned to the 105th Precinct based in Queens Village, were treated for a ringing in their ears and have not yet returned to work, said Officer Pete Dwyer from the 105th community affairs unit.
Police were investigating the shooting and a grand jury will be convened to determine whether it was justified as part of standard procedure, Dwyer said.
The incident began when Faulkner, who grew up in the Springfield Gardens neighborhood where he was killed, barged into Roessner's office, at 168-15 S. Conduit Ave., and demanded a week's vacation pay from the time when he worked for the company seven years ago, Roessner said. Faulkner had worked on a contract basis, and became enraged when Roessner refused to pay, breaking the back window on Roessner's BMW, he said.
"He said we owed him money from seven years ago," he said. "We didn't, but even if we pretend for a second that we did, you don't throw rock in people's windows. You take him to court."
Roessner, who described Faulkner as a friend, called the police, and rode with officers as they canvassed the neighborhood. They found him in his car at the corner where the shooting took place, police said.
Faulkner lived with his siblings on 144th Drive, but his family declined to comment on the incident. He was not married.
Between jobs as a courier for air industry companies at Kennedy Airport, Faulkner was always thinking up inventions, said Roessner, who had known him for 13 years. Several years ago, Faulkner wanted to market his idea for a toothbrush with crossed bristles, he said.
Roessner saw Faulkner on the morning of the shooting before he showed up to demand vacation pay, and the inventor told him about two new gadgets he was working on, Roessner said.
"He was not a bad guy," Roessner said. "I liked him, I was friends with him. He was always strange, but we would accept him."
It was unclear why Faulkner became enraged a few hours later and went to Roessner to demand the money, police said. Roessner said Faulkner was always eccentric, and may have had psychiatric problems.
"He was a poor soul," Roessner said. "You could see he was someone who was in so much pain. He always complained about life."
Reach reporter Courtney Dentch by e-mail at TimesLedger@aol.com, or by phone at 718-229-0300, Ext. 138.
©2003 Community News Group
By submitting this comment, you agree to the following terms:
You agree that you, and not TimesLedger.com or its affiliates, are fully responsible for the content that you post. You agree not to post any abusive, obscene, vulgar, slanderous, hateful, threatening or sexually-oriented material or any material that may violate applicable law; doing so may lead to the removal of your post and to your being permanently banned from posting to the site. You grant to TimesLedger.com the royalty-free, irrevocable, perpetual and fully sublicensable license to use, reproduce, modify, adapt, publish, translate, create derivative works from, distribute, perform and display such content in whole or in part world-wide and to incorporate it in other works in any form, media or technology now known or later developed.