Today’s news:

Rockaway Park man arraigned in shooting

A Rockaway Park man was charged last week with shooting a Breezy Point resident in the back of the head, Queens District Attorney Richard Brown said.

The victim, 27-year-old Thomas O’Neill, was walking with another unidentified man by the intersection of Beach 129th Street and Newport Avenue in Belle Harbor when defendant Robert Cassato, 36, allegedly brandished a handgun and fired a round into the air at around 3:25 a.m. June 14, Brown said.

The unidentified man allegedly heard a second shot fired and saw O’Neill fall face down on the ground bleeding from the back of his head, the DA said.

Another witness, who was not identified, allegedly saw Cassato point the gun at the back of O’Neill’s head and fire, according to Brown.

O’Neill was taken to Jamaica Hospital where he was listed in critical condition and was in a chemically induced coma, Brown said.

A spokeswoman for the DA’s office said she was not sure whether O’Neill was still in a coma as of Tuesday.

There was no indication of a motive in the shooting, according to Brown.

“A Saturday night out has turned into a life and death situation for a young man, when without warning he was senselessly but deliberately shot in the back of the head,” the DA said in a statement. “This case is just one more glaring example of mindless, gun-related violence that recklessly puts people’s lives at risk.”

Cassato, of 102-00 Shore Front Pkwy. in Rockaway Park, was arraigned June 17 on charges of attempted murder, assault, criminal possession of a weapon and reckless endangerment before Queens Criminal Court Judge Gene Lopez, who held him without bail, the Brown said.

The Rockaway Park man faces up to 25 years in prison if convicted of the charges, the DA said.

Reach reporter Howard Koplowitz by e-mail at hkoplowitz@cnglocal.com or by phone at 718-229-0300, Ext. 173.

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