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Ozone Park holds vigil for pizzeria man’s slain son

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Waving candles underneath the umbrellas that sheltered them from a hard, cold rain, family and friends of Gerardo “Jerry” Antoniello at a Saturday vigil asked the public to come forward with information about the 29-year-old Ozone Park resident’s murder that happened as he was defending his father from attackers last month.

“These cowards robbed my parents of a loving son, and they robbed me and my brother Angelo of a loving brother,” said Jerry Antoniello’s brother, Carmine Antoniello. “They were beating our elderly, cancer-stricken father. On that tragic evening, my brother acted heroically .… We won’t rest until we bring the cowards who did this to justice.”

Those who spoke during Saturday’s vigil held outside Jerry Antoniello’s family’s restaurant, Romeo Antoniello’s pizzeria in Ozone Park, thanked police from the 106th Precinct for continuing to investigate the murder, but they said they hoped the weekend event would result in someone bringing out more information about the crime. The family is now offering a $20,000 reward for information about the murder.

A little before 10 p.m. Sept. 9, just prior to the attack, a woman came to the Antoniello’s door at the Ozone Park home in which the family had lived for more than 20 years and asked for directions, according to a friend of the family, Paul Johnatan “PJ” Marcel.

Minutes after Jerry Antoniello gave the woman directions, police said Romeo Antoniello, 61, returned to the home on North Conduit Avenue and was accosted by two masked men outside the house.

The unidentified burglars began to assault the elder Antoniello when Jerry came to his father’s aid and tried to stop the men, but was shot in the head outside his home, according to police.

The burglars fled the scene without taking any goods from the home, police said.

Jerry was rushed to Jamaica Hospital in critical condition while his father was not seriously hurt, according to police. The 29-year-old died shortly before 6 a.m. the next morning at the hospital, police said.

“My parents had to watch their baby gasping for breath, bleeding,” Carmine Antoniello said.

The two suspects, described by the police as black males, have not been caught.

“We’re encouraging anyone with the littlest bit of information to come forward,” said Marcel, who had known Jerry Antoniello since the early 1990s. “Somebody must have seen something. Somebody had to have heard something. That shot rang out.”

Jerry Antoniello was the youngest of Romeo Antoniello’s three sons, one of whom is an NYPD officer. He worked for the city Department of Education as an operating engineer at PS 127 in East Elmhurst and had recently saved up enough money to purchase a condominium near St. John’s University in Fresh Meadows.

“Jerry, I was looking forward to going over to your condo and watching football games,” said Howard Beach resident Frankie Rossomangno, one of Jerry’s best friends for 15 years. “I miss you and think about you every day.”

Jerry Antoniello’s parents opened their pizzeria in 1992, when their youngest son was 12, and Marcel said Jerry was “always there.” He went on to be a maintenance supervisor at PS 65 in Ozone Park and then a facilities manager at PS 242 in Whitestone. Marcel said all his colleagues loved him and he said officials from PS 127 and PS 242 plan to plant a tree and garden in Jerry’s name.

A natural athlete whose favorite team was the Mets, Jerry Antoniello loved nothing more than spending time with his family and friends, those who spoke at the vigil said.

“Jerry lived his life ready to help people,” Carmine Antoniello said.

To report any information about Jerry Antoniello’s death, contact the 106th Precinct at 718-845-2260.

Reach reporter Anna Gustafson by e-mail at agustafson@cnglocal.com or by phone at 718-229-0300, Ext. 174.

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