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An off-duty Queens Fire Battalion chief was shot in the head Tuesday outside a Balley Total Fitness gym in Little Neck.
The victim, Chief Lawrence J. Schwemmer of the 45 Battalion, was exiting his car in front of the gym, located at 254-24 Horace Harding Expressway, at 5:45 a.m. when a male carrying a gun walked up beside him and fired five shots into Schwemmer’s head, a police spokesperson said.
Schwemmer was taken to North Shore Hospital where he was in surgery until about 11:30 a.m. Neurosurgeons removed two of the five bullets in Schwemmer’s brain, a hospital spokesperson said. Schwemmer was initially listed in extremely critical condition but was listed in critical but stable condition late Tuesday.
Schwemmer, 55, is a 29 year veteran of the department. He is married with two children and is the brother of a retired Fire Department Lieutenant.
A suspect was in police custody late Tuesday, and was being questioned by detectives. Any relationship between Schwemmer and the suspect is yet unknown, although both are members of Balley’s, sources said.
In a brief question and answer session at City Hall, Mayor Rudolph Guiliani said police were investigating the case and that there was very little information available.
"I know he’s in serious condition,"Guiliani said. "We pray that he survives."
A hospital official said Schwemmer’s condition will be closely watched over the next several days.

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