Murder at Douglaston co-op

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The operations manager of a Douglaston apartment complex killed on the job early Friday morning made coffee for the longtime employee suspected of shooting him once in the head less than an hour before the murder, a fellow worker said.

The New York City Police Department said the manager, Victor Sanchez, 62, of Bellerose, was allegedly shot to death by a Long Island man who is believed to have killed his own wife in Suffolk County earlier that morning before driving to Douglaston.

In a rapidly unfolding scene at the Beech Hills co-operative apartment complex in Douglaston, police said Juan Rolon, 49, of 168 Shinnecock Ave., in Mastic, L.I., allegedly fired the fatal shot at Sanchez and then turned the gun on himself in an apparent suicide attempt.

Rolon underwent surgery Friday afternoon and was listed in critical condition at North Shore University Hospital in Manhasset, L.I., a hospital spokeswoman said.

A spokeswoman at the Queens District Attorney's office said Tuesday charges against Rolon were "forthcoming."

A manager at an office in the development at 57-28 246th Crescent who declined to give his name said Sanchez worked at Beech Hills for 21 years. Sanchez lived at 84-38 248th St., in Bellerose.

The manager described Rolon, an 18-year employee and an assistant grounds foreman, as "a nice, respectful gentleman."

Sanchez "seemed to be a nice caring boss," the manager said as he sat in his office the day of the shooting. "He bought the crew dinner [Thursday] night because they were working out in the cold.

"He made [Rolon] coffee before this whole thing happened," the manager said.

He said "on the face of it there were no problems" between Sanchez and Rolon.

Describing Rolon as "a bit of a loner" but "a sweetheart," the manager said "he did his job and did it well. He was always eager to help."

Detective Madelyne Galindo of NYPD said Rolon allegedly approached a 55-year-old retired transit officer who has worked as a groundskeeper at Beech Hills for about nine years at about 7:30 a.m. Friday and held a semiautomatic weapon to the man's head.

Rolon took the former officer's .38-caliber revolver before locking the man in a garage at the apartment complex, Galindo said. The suspect then walked to another office within the development and allegedly shot Sanchez once in the head, killing him in front of at least one witness, while several other employees were in the office, police said.

Galindo said the former transit officer managed to escape the garage by breaking a window before he called 911, police said.

Rolon was taken to North Shore Hospital in Manhasset after he shot himself in the head, police said. A hospital spokeswoman said Rolon's condition remained critical Tuesday and has not changed since his surgery Friday.

North Shore spokeswoman Laura Green described the injury as severe and said Rolon's condition was "going to be monitored carefully. A prognosis really has to be determined day by day."

Detective John Gierasch, of the Suffolk County Homicide Squad, told a news conference on Long Island Friday that Rolon was also suspected of killing his 42-year-old wife, Elsa Marie Rolon, between 5:30 a.m. and 6:20 a.m. Friday.

Gierasch said the Rolons followed a daily routine of leaving their home in Mastic at about 5:30 a.m. each morning and driving to another family member's house in Deer Park, L.I. From there, Gierasch said, Elsa Marie Rolon would drive to her job and Juan Rolon would drive to work in Douglaston with his nephew.

The search for Rolon's wife began when relatives informed of the shooting in Queens realized Elsa Marie Rolon was unaccounted for, Gierasch said.

He said Rolon's 1988 Mustang was found in Deer Park with the body of a woman, later confirmed to be Juan Rolon's wife, inside. She had been strangled to death, Gierasch said. They had two daughters, 14 and 20.

A spokeswoman for the Queens District Attorney's Office said Rolon's half-brother, Wilfredo Rolon Collazo, killed himself after murdering two women in 1985.

In August 1985, Collazo had a few drinks at Bradley's Publick Tavern on 46th Avenue in Woodside before he placed a letter on the bar and killed himself with a shot to the head.

In the letter, Collazo admitted to killing his girlfriend and her roommate in a Woodside apartment, where police later found their bodies.

Updated 10:25 am, October 12, 2011
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