Police said a Riverhead ex-convict with a "violent past and an extensive criminal history" pulled a gun Tuesday night while officers were searching his home for illegal drugs -- prompting an officer to fire his weapon.
Wading River resident Thomas Michael Counihan, 60, was admitted to the psychiatric unit of University Hospital in Stony Brook after a Tuesday night shooting that occurred while officers assigned to the East End Drug Task Force searched his residence for illegal drugs, Suffolk County District Attorney Thomas Spota said on Wednesday.
Counihan, of Wading River-Manor Road, who is currently on probation for a drug possession charge, allegedly displayed a loaded Colt .45 while the investigators searched his room Tuesday evening for illegal drugs.
Next, police said, Counihan grabbed his weapon from top of his bed and first pointed the gun barrel at his face, then his chest.
The suspect then allegedly began to turn the gun toward the two officers.
At that point, according to Spota's office, one of the officers fired one shot at Counihan, missing him but prompting the suspect to drop to the floor. Both detectives then subdued Counihan and seized his loaded handgun, police said.
“It is clear the police officer’s discharge of his weapon, given the circumstances, was justified,” Spota said.
Officers said they found and seized 250 packets of heroin, approximately two ounces of powder cocaine, a large plastic bag containing marijuana, a syringe and nine unlabeled prescription bottles containing various pills from Counihan' room.
Spota said when Counihan is released from the hospital, he will be charged with criminal possession of a loaded handgun, and possession of heroin, cocaine and marijuana.
“We are relieved that the two East End Drug Task Force officers were not injured during the standoff with this dangerous, violent felon," Spota added.
In the past, Counihan has had six convictions, four on felony charges, including a violent felony conviction in 1985 for a Southampton Village robbery in which Counihan used a deadly weapon.
The East End Drug Task Force is a multi-jurisdictional drug enforcement unit funded by Spota's office.