Springs Gunman Says He Did Not Intend To Hurt Anyone


Despite an hour-long manhunt for a Springs resident who was driving around the hamlet with a loaded Mossberg 12-gauge shotgun on Friday morning, after allegedly firing the weapon three times inside his house and injuring his mother, Valon Shoshi told police he never “wanted to hurt [him]self or anyone else.”

The former assistant chief of the East Hampton Village Ambulance Association and paraprofessional at John Marshall Elementary School was arrested by East Hampton Town Police on Friday afternoon. Police received a call about gunshots at his house on Gardiner Avenue; according to investigators, Mr. Shoshi, 28, fired three rounds, hitting a television, a wall and a clock, during a fight with his mother, Atifet Shoshi. Police said he then got into his black Cadillac, with the shotgun, and headed toward East Hampton Village.

After locating Mr. Shoshi near One Stop Market in Springs at approximately 12:30 p.m., police arrested him and later charged him with reckless endangerment, a first-degree felony; assault in the third degree, a misdemeanor; illegal discharge of a firearm, a misdemeanor; and possession of a loaded firearm, a misdemeanor.

Mr. Shoshi was arraigned at East Hampton Town Justice Court before Justice Lisa Rana on Saturday and released on $25,000 cash bail, which was posted by his brother, Tony Shoshi, who could not be reached for comment.

In court documents, Mr. Shoshi claimed the firing of the shotgun was never meant to hurt his mother, who suffered minor injuries from the debris caused by the weapon’s discharge and was taken to Southampton Hospital for treatment. “I just really wanted to scare her and get her to leave me alone,” he wrote in his affidavit to police, recounting an argument he’d had with his mother prior to the gunshots.

According to Mr. Shoshi, he had been lying on his bed facedown earlier that morning with the loaded shotgun underneath him. Mr. Shoshi said he heard his bedroom door open and his mother entered the room. According to Ms. Shoshi’s affidavit, she asked Mr. Shoshi what he was doing and told him she was afraid he was going to hurt himself. She noted that he had “not been himself” after separating from his wife, who resides in Kosovo, the Shoshis’ native country.

When reached online, Mr. Shoshi’s estranged wife, who asked not to be named, declined to comment on the situation.

According to Ms. Shoshi’s affidavit, his mother tried to take the gun away from him, and the two engaged in a “tug of war” involving the gun. “Let go of the gun. I promise I won’t hurt you,” Mr. Shoshi said to his mother, according to her affidavit. At that point, he fired three rounds, ran down the stairs and got in his car with the gun.

“I don’t think Valon was trying to hurt me,” Ms. Shoshi wrote in her affidavit.

Justice Rana issued an order of protection barring Mr. Shoshi from assaulting, stalking or harassing family members living in his house. Mr. Shoshi lives in the home with his mother, father and two brothers, according to an affidavit. He must complete a psychiatric evaluation by October 9.

According to police, Mr. Shoshi’s firearm was confiscated. He is scheduled to appear in court next on October 30 at 9:30 a.m.

Mr. Shoshi could not be reached for comment, and his attorney, Eddie Burke Jr. of Sag Harbor, did not return calls seeking comment.

The type of gun he had can be purchased at retail stores; buyers’ criminal backgrounds are checked. According to court documents, Mr. Shoshi has no criminal history.

Many of those who know him said they were shocked, given his reputation for being friendly, outgoing and optimistic.

Longtime friend Juan Mancilla, 24, said he and Mr. Shoshi met while at East Hampton High School in 2003, and the two bonded over a love of boxing. “We met through school and friends,” said Mr. Mancilla, in a phone interview. “He was boxing at the time I was beginning, so he basically trained me. I went to my first boxing gym with him, and we trained together at the YMCA. So he’s almost like a big brother in a way.”

Mr. Mancilla said he knew Mr. Shoshi had been going through a difficult time in his personal life, but that the two had traveled to Manhattan together a few weeks ago for a weekend trip, and Mr. Shoshi appeared to be his “same, happy self.”

“He mentioned he was going through a rough time, but I didn’t want to pry,” said Mr. Mancilla. “Otherwise, the trip was just us, hanging out, having fun—it was good,” he said, noting that in the 11 years he’s known Mr. Shoshi, never once has he seen him in a negative light.

“He was an amazing, caring, giving human being,” former village ambulance chief Mary Ellen McGuire said in a phone interview, describing her experience with Mr. Shoshi. “He was assistant chief when I was chief and, you know, I have no idea what happened. I know he was a caring, intelligent person. I’m blown away. It’s really tragic.”

Ms. McGuire said she did not know Mr. Shoshi to have a history of mental illness or anger, and always thought highly of him. “If something went wrong, you went to Valon,” she said. “You wanted him next to you.”

Lynda Verity, an acquaintance and parent of a child in one of Mr. Shoshi’s classes while working at John Marshall, said Mr. Shoshi had been the reason her son wanted to go to school. “My son, who’s 14 now but was 6 at the time, he looked forward to going to school to go see Mr. S. every day,” she said. “That was my first contact with him. Valon was just an all-around nice guy. He would always help everybody out, always had a nice, cheerful ‘Hello.’”

Mr. Shoshi came to the United States from Kosovo when he was about 13, according to Mr. Mancilla. In the beginning of 2013 he returned to Peja, the third-largest city in Kosovo, where he was shot and critically injured. Mr. Shoshi, who returned to the United States in December 2013, doesn’t talk about his injury or experience there, Mr. Mancilla said.

“We’re fighters,” he said. “We face obstacles. It’s our nature to overcome them. I believe this is another fight for him, and he’ll come out victorious.”

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