The “heart-broken” family of Gerardo Antoniello “never wants to go back” to the Ozone Park home where the 29-year-old was murdered, according to a cousin, who told The Courier that the house has been put up for sale.
Gerardo Salerno, who owns the Romeo’s Pizzeria on Liberty Avenue, said that the “family is still taking it hard” following the September 9 tragedy.
Police say the incident began as a push-in robbery at the family’s home on 95th Street and North Conduit Avenue. Reportedly, a woman working with the two male suspects had attempted to gain entry into the home by asking for directions, but Gerardo and his mother, Gaetana, 58, refused to open the door.
When Romeo Antoniello, 61, arrived at the home, the two masked men tried to rob him of the cash he had allegedly been carrying after closing the family’s pizzeria, Romeo’s on Cross Bay Boulevard, for the night.
“They had to have followed him home,” said a police source.
After hitting the ailing older man in the head, the perpetrators then proceeded to push their way into the residence, cops said, where Gerardo, who had just celebrated a birthday late last month, tried to defend his home and family. One round was fired, hitting Gerardo in the head.
Salerno said that Gaetana had tried to stop her son’s bleeding with towels.
He was taken to Jamaica Hospital in critical condition, where he died early Thursday morning, September 10.
Reports claim the suspects fled empty handed, and as of press time they had not been apprehended.
“He [Romeo] hasn’t been the same,” said Salerno. “Before the guy shot Gerardo, he turned to him [Romeo] and said, ‘This is for you.’”
Salerno continued, “He feels guilty.”
Family friend Scott Jordan, whose son was the altar server at Gerardo’s funeral on Monday, September 14, told The Courier that Romeo has said, “It should have been me.”
Romeo’s reopened a week after the tragedy, and employee and family friend Sal Sorrentino said that the owner has been back to the eatery – where customers have been offering up their condolences – but in small increments of time.
Salerno said that only a few days before his cousin was shot and killed, his own brother was ambushed, tied up with duct tape and robbed in his own home.
“My brother was lucky,” said Salerno.