‘They’re out to get me’ – Ex-Cop, Gene Barrett, accused of killing neighbor believed victim was part of a conspiracy to evict him from his rent-controlled NY digs
Ex-Cop Accused of Killing Joseph Stepinski, March 6, leading to a two-hour standoff with officers before handing himself in believed people were out to get him
Gene Barrett fatally shot his 45-year-old neighbor outside their Brooklyn apt building
Retired NYPD officer Barrett, 51, claims Stepinski who was dating building manager, Melissa Rotundo, was conspiring against him
He thought his victim, and others wanted to evict him from his rent-controlled apt, he’d occupied for over 30 years
He’d accused Stepinski and Rotundo of mail theft and slashing his tires in the past, proven to be baseless
The erratic police retiree had suffered minor brain damage during his time as a cop
Gene Barrett, who’s facing murder charges, was convinced his landlord and neighbors were colluding against him
Gene Barrett, allegedly shot Joseph Stepinski, 45, outside their Brooklyn apartment building on March 6. Stepinski died four days after the shooting.
Barrett, 51, was taken in after a two-hour standoff with police, and now claims that he was the subject of a scheme to eject him from the rent-stabilized apartment he’d lived in for more than three decades, he said during an interview at Rikers Island.
The increasing frequency of 911 calls made from Barret’s apartment, complaints logged at the local police precinct and during the jailhouse interview attest to the suspect’s growing anxieties which boiled over March 6.
Gene Barrett is arrested after the stand-off ended, Mar 6
He shot his neighbor of Joseph Stepinski in the head on the sidewalk in front of their home, grabbed the victim’s phone and holed himself up in the apartment the victim shared with his girlfriend, building manager Melissa Rotundo for two hours, in a standoff with police. During the negotiations with police, he pointed his gun at an officer and later admitted “it was me,” according to police reports.
The ex-NYPD cop who shot his neighbor in the head outside their Brooklyn apartment building had a decade-long feud with the victim’s girlfriend, police sources said.Barrett, 51, ambushed Stepinski, Rotundo’s live-in boyfriend, right outside the Greenpoint Avenue building in broad daylight as the victim took out the trash.
Barrett complained that Stepinski who was dating the 37-year-old building manager and others: ” were all working together to get me out,” said Barrett, during an interview on Rikers Island, Friday.
He was referring to his landlord, Eugene Torhan, Stepinski and Rotundo, as well as business owners on the block.
“They were listening to me from the window, listening to me from the yard.”
Shooting victim Joseph Stepinski [left], and girlfriend Melissa Rotundo
Frustrated neighbors for years had to endure did want Barrett’s harassment and erratic behavior, though they said there was no active campaign against him., he accused his neighbors of mail theft and slashing his tires, all of which proved baseless.
“This has really destroyed our lives,” said Rotundo, whose boyfriend of two years was killed in Barrett’s murderous rage, officials said: “I’m struggling every day to just do the normal things that I have to do as a mother, but every minute I’m choking back tears.”
Barrett went on disability, 16 years ago, after he slipped and fell inside the station house, his second injury on the job. He had previously suffered minor brain damage controlling a raucous labor riot, according to a lawsuit he filed against the NYPD.
NYPD officer with his gun drawn at the scene of the standoff with Gene Barrett, in Brooklyn, NY on March 6
The former officer told DNAinfo last week that he believed his neighbors had been filing false police reports against him for years. He also believed that he was being investigated by authorities whom he thought were coming in and out of his apartment building all the time and recording his conversations.
But a review of police records showed Barrett initiated most of the complaints. At least eight times since 2014, he called police to report harassment by his neighbors and landlord. Neighbors also made at least two calls against him.
On one notable instance, neighbors called against him in July 2014, when he left a threatening note on the front of the building.
Armored vehicle and police in riot gear assist in the negotiation with the armed Barret after he shut himself inside the victim’s apt, March 6
Rotundo said Barrett would often post cryptic messages in the hallways, which he moved to the front door after the landlord told Barrett to stop.
“It’s a matter of life and death,” she recalls one of the notes saying.
Barrett told an officer that he’d overheard a conversation with Rotundo and Stepinski two days earlier in which Stepinski said, “I’m going to stab this motherf–ker”.
He said he then heard the couple dialing 911 through the window and saying, “He is an ex cop, His name is Gene… He pointed a gun at me..I seen it,” Barrett reported he then heard the couple say.
Rotundo said she and Stepinski had made no such call, and 911 records confirmed the only call was actually made by Barrett complaining that they were making false reports about him. While Rotundo had heard from neighbors that Barrett had gun, she’d never actually seen it, she said.
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