A tight-knit Staten Island neighborhood was still reeling Sunday after an outburst of violence left a beloved 81-year-old man dead, two others injured and a longtime resident in handcuffs.
“We are all devastated,” a family friend of the elderly victim said Sunday near the scene of the murder. “Seriously, the whole family’s shocked by this. Everybody knows each other. We were all friends here, so it’s really devastating.”
Frank Pompilli died after he tried to break up a fight between three of his neighbors on tree-lined Sunnyside Terrace near Grand Ave. in Sunnyside around 4:40 p.m. Friday, according to police.
Responding officers found Redzep (Richie) Cobaj, 78, with numerous stab wounds and his son Skender (Alex) Cobaj, 51, with cuts to his hand.
When neighbor Kelly Doyle came back to the idyllic block after work, she spotted the younger Cobaj covered in blood as he sat on the ground and wept.
“He was covered in blood,” Doyle told the Daily News. “His hand was bleeding. He had blood on his arms, his legs, his pants.”
The woman comforted her traumatized teenage daughter as the elder Cojab was wheeled into an ambulance on a stretcher.
“I held her head and I wouldn’t let her look until the doors were closed on the ambulance,” Doyle said.
As Redzep Cobaj was taken to Richmond University Medical Center in critical condition, the woman watched while his wounded son screamed in the direction of suspected killer Ramazan Ramusevic’s house, where Pompilli’s lifeless body lay.
“Two police officers had Frank,” Doyle recalled. “They were bringing him from the suspect’s house — down the suspect’s steps. They had him by his wrists and ankles and they put him in the street and they started pounding him on the chest.”
Despite the officers’ efforts, Pompilli could not be saved.
Inside the house, officers found Ramusevic, 57, holding a bloodied knife, police sources said Saturday.
“They brought him down the stairs,” Doyle said of Ramusevic’s arrest. “As they brought him out, it took six police officers to hold [Skender Cobaj] back.”
“His face was contorted and twisted,” she said of Ramusevic. “He looked deranged.”
As he was led to a nearby police car, Pompilli’s wife of 56 years screamed, “‘I hope you die!’” according to neighbor Maryann Nelson, 72.
Public records show Ramusevic has a history of mental health issues and was hospitalized at Richmond University Medical Center in March for psychiatric reasons. He sued the hospital in June for medical records after he injured himself during an unsuccessful escape from the center, according to court documents.
Neighbors told The News on Sunday that ambulances have been called to Ramusevic’s home several times this year for what they believed were mental health episodes.
“He was quiet,” said Shban Sukalic, 74. “I saw him in the park sometimes … He not talk to nobody. Just walked fast.
“I heard his brother says he didn’t take the medication or he took too many medication,” he added.
The man got along with few people in the neighborhood, but seemed to be closest with the two men he would later stab — Pompilli and Redzep Cobaj.
“My dad, you can ask anyone on the block, my dad literally was one of the kindest people,” Pompilli’s son said in a brief interview Sunday. “He connected with every one of these neighbors in a way like it was family.
Pompilli raised two children on the block and had six grandchildren.
“Frank talked to everyone, everyone,” Maryann Nelson remembered. “He was so friendly. He was a great neighbor.”
On Sunday, Redzep Cobaj’s condition improved to stable.
“This is such a quiet neighborhood,” Doyle said as heavy rain poured down on the sleepy block. “It doesn’t happen.”
Ramusevic remained in police custody but was yet to be charged as of Sunday afternoon.
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