Anthony Labaschi, 63, fired three times at his landlord and City Marshal Edward Guida when they rapped on the door of his 59-04 Stephen St. apartment, where he was behind on seven months' rent, police said.
Guida and the landlord, Frieda Petchauer, were standing to the side of the door when he opened fire and they fled from the building unscathed, said George Arzt, spokesman for the city marshal's office. Outside, he said, the marshal called for backup.
"I heard a lot of screaming," said Jacyln Roth, 18, a neighbor who said she woke to the commotion at around noon.
Police closed off several blocks and evacuated the area. Labaschi, who had lived alone since his elderly mother died last year, fired another round through the front door when emergency crews responded to the first-floor apartment, police said. No one was injured.
Hostage negotiators spent the next four hours convincing the unemployed man, who was alone, to surrender his .38 caliber Smith and Wesson and come out with his hands up, police said.
They got some help from Tommy D'Amato, a bartender at Labaschi's favorite watering hole, the Last Call Sports Bar on Norman Street at the intersection of Forest Avenue.
A bartender there said Labaschi had been a regular for more than a decade and had been fighting his landlord's eviction notices for about a year.
"As far as I know, he didn't have a job," said one bartender, who did not give his name. "He's just had a lot of bad luck lately for the last couple of years."
D'Amato told police he knew Labaschi, and they brought him to the scene to soothe his friend over the police radio, a witness said.
Police gave Labaschi a cigarette and promised not to handcuff him too tightly, according to their conversation over the police radio.
"How's that cigarette? You almost done?]" an officer asked him.
"Almost," Labaschi responded.
"This is going to work out okay," said the officer.
"I hope so," Labaschi said.
Police told Labaschi, who had lived there for more than 20 years, to place his gun in a bucket before leaving the apartment, and said he would not be arrested.
"Tony, before you come out we need your hands in front of you," an officer said. "Remember, you're not getting locked up."
After surrendering, he was taken to Jamaica Hospital for a psychiatric evaluation, police said. Charges are pending.
A neighbor said Labaschi was a loner who kept to himself and who was given to emotional outbursts.
"Let me tell you, he's sane," said Jeannate Laborda, 42, who lived next door to him for about seven years. "He gets a little irate. He has a little temper but never to this extent."
She said the landlord last served him an eviction notice in June. Sometimes he would scream at teenagers storming up and down the stairs.
"I never took him serious. He would say he has a gun and I was like 'blah, blah, blah," Laborda said.
Reach reporter Matthew Monks by e-mail at news@times
©2004 Community News Group
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