Neighbors said Sally Ford, 77, who is dying of cancer, was denied admission to a hospice for her final days by the family's insurance company.
Vincent Ford Jr., 42, was taken to Mary Immaculate Hospital in critical condition with gunshot wounds to his face, chest and arm but was stable after surgery, police said. Under the stage name Keith Diamond, he has appeared in "Martin" and "Miami Vice" on TV as well as the movie "Biker Boyz," among other productions.
His father, Vincent Ford Sr., 81, was admitted to Jamaica Hospital with undisclosed injuries and released into police custody, police said.
He is charged with attempted murder, assault, and criminal possession of a weapon, Queens District Attorney Richard Brown said, and faces up to 15 years in prison if convicted.
But the DA said the older Ford, who neighbors said had Alzheimer's disease, would undergo a psychiatric test and that those results could affect the charges.
The elder Ford was arraigned Monday in State Supreme Court in Kew Gardens, where he was scheduled to return April 26.
Neighbors said the younger Ford, an only child, had come back recently to his family's house at 114-28 139th St. because his mother was dying of cancer and had only a few weeks to live. Although not injured in the shooting, she was taken to Jamaica Hospital, where she remained in stable condition, because no one was home to take care of her, police said.
Father and son got into an argument because the older man allegedly wanted to relieve his wife's suffering by ending her life, an action the son opposed, said former neighbor Isaac Suber, 48.
Most of the blood from the shooting was in the living room, police said, which the family had converted into a bedroom for Sally Ford.
Suber no longer lives on the block but said his sister had been helping to take care of Sally Ford and that he had spoken by phone with the younger Ford after he was shot.
Ford's father, a retired postal employee, suffers from Alzheimer's disease, Suber said, and the family had wanted to put Sally Ford in a hospice, but their health insurance company would not cover it.
"Blame the insurance company," Suber said. "They sent her home to die."
Police from the 113th Precinct responded to emergency calls from several neighbors at about 1:15 p.m. and roped off the entrance to the 2-1/2-story house. At the bottom of stairs leading to the front door sat a lavender blanket with red stains, a pair of black jeans and some other clothing.
A handgun, which an officer identified as a .32-caliber, and several unused bullets were removed from a tiny patch of grass, and police also took away a small closed folding knife sitting on concrete nearby.
Police said they were still investigating the case but acknowledged they had been told about the struggle Suber described. Officers on the scene said the .38-caliber was fired three times. A shotgun was also found in the attic but was not believed to have been brought out during the argument, the officers said.
Suber described Sally Ford, a retired school teacher, as an "icon for the block," and other neighbors said the Ford family was well-known and well-liked. One woman, 54, who declined to give her name, said "they're all nice people - it's a tragedy."
The woman, who has lived on the same block with the Fords for 50 years, confirmed that the shooting was "a family thing" and that the illnesses the parents suffered from were a factor.
"They had a good relationship, but people are sick," she said, without elaborating.
Many neighbors expressed anger at the insurance company. Said Suber about the alleged refusal of hospice service: "Maybe the insurance companies will stop this ....."
Reach reporter Michael Morton by e-mail at email@example.com or by calling 718-229-0300, Ext. 154.
©2004 Community News Group
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