DA: Ex-Con Pulls Gun During Search for Illegal Drugs; Officer Fires Shot

Officers seized 250 packets of heroin, two ounces of powder cocaine, marijuana, and various prescription bottles filled with pills.

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.

Lynn James September 28, 2012 at 12:24 AM
this bum killed kids with his drug sales how many kids died in twenty years from him dealing to kids
Lynn James September 28, 2012 at 12:34 AM
he is a kid killer with his drug dealings i hope he rots in jail this task force should have been doing this al along instead of busting local kids for drinking beer at the beach with a bonfire task force means special force payed for with my taxes not walking the beach thats the bay constibels job not task force and no the state is checking there books in southampton and finding out what have they realy been doing with tax payer monies
Tony G September 28, 2012 at 01:24 AM
What can I say? Have known Tom and his entire family for 45 years and although I haven't seen him now for probably 25, it's of no surprise that he's still a troubled man, sorry to say. You all know at least a few and that's just the way life is. Some of us are blessed with a good spirit and others are not and for better or worse, Tommy was one that had a tough one from the get go. From his mom and step dad, it was down hill from the beginning. I'm sorry he wound up in such a dire place as he had such potential, as all of us do. Sorry Tom, you made such poor choices and now you pay the price. That's what we do in a "civilized" society, put the trouble makers in prison, unfortunately where you'll be now for many years, and although I do feel sorry for you and your family, it's where you'll be. Perhaps you can be a good mentor to a young inmate that still has a second chance. Someone that can maybe change his life, before it's too late. Such is life, old friend. Find some peace amongst the pain.
Lisa Finn September 28, 2012 at 11:41 AM
I am so sorry for what your family is going through right now, but any post that contains profanity and cursing will be deleted.
Sam October 02, 2012 at 10:02 PM
Facts are the facts. Last I checked doctors do not prescribe herion or cocaine. This man is sick and should not be dealing drugs, perioid. The drugs are getting into the hands of our children, ruining lives, and destroying familes. His actions should be punished, they are inexcusable. Bravo task force!


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