Charges against the former police officer who shot and seriously wounded two Irishmen outside a Queens bowling alley last week have been upgraded to attempted murder.
Michael Lavecchio, a retired policeman who worked as a security guard at the AMF 34th Avenue Bowling Lanes, has now been charged with two counts of attempted murder. When arrested last week, Lavecchio was charged with two counts of second-degree assault.
Gerard Hourigan, 29, and Justin Donaghy, 29, were with their American wives at the bowling alley when they were shot in the parking lot shortly after 1:50 a.m. on Saturday, February 6.
Lavecchio, 54, who was legally carrying a .380 caliber Ruger semi-automatic pistol, asked the men to leave the bowling alley after he caught them smoking inside the vestibule.
Lavecchio removed Hourigan, from Bruff, Co. Limerick, and Donaghy, from Navan, Co. Meath, from the alley shortly after.
After what appears to be a disagreement, Lavecchio, a policeman for 18 years before retiring in 1999, shot Hourigan on the right side of the torso and Donaghy in the stomach.
A spokesperson for the NYPD told the Irish Voice last week that the two Irishmen, who live in Woodside, Queens, “got into a physical altercation” with Lavecchio, who subsequently fired two shots.
Hourigan and Donaghy, who have been charged with menacing, a misdemeanor, are currently in Elmhurst General Hospital undergoing surgeries and concentrating on their recovery.
The families of both men flew from Ireland to be with their loved ones, and their wives have been at their sides since the incident.
The Irishmen were under police supervision while in hospital. Last weekend their handcuffs were removed and a police presence was no longer required. All week they were waiting to be arraigned on the menacing charges.
The Irishmen’s attorney, J.P. Delaney of O’Dwyer and Bernstien, told the Irish Voice on Tuesday that the men were “relieved” to no longer have a police presence at their bedside, but also “understand that these things take time to sort out, especially with the snow storm and holidays.”
Delaney said the two men were issued with desk appearances at the end of last week.
“All the gentlemen have to do is present their tickets to the court at the end of March,” he said.
Lavecchio was released on $25,000 bail. He was ordered by the court to turn over all weapons. He was also issued with a court order to stay away from Hourigan and Donaghy.
Delaney said the men were not armed or looking for trouble.
"They had no weapons and they didn’t cause any injury. They both have clean records in Ireland and the U.S. They are both married to American girls. They’re hard-working and they’re both here legally.
“It seems they were assaulted by this over zealous ex-security guard who was carrying a concealed semi-automatic weapon,” added the attorney.
Delaney said the incident was caught on surveillance camera.
“We have not yet seen the video but that is standard practice,” said Delaney.
The Irishmen and their families are concentrating on getting better.
Hourigan underwent further surgery on Sunday. Both men are expecting to make a full recovery.