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Aug 20, 2019 4:14 PMPublication: The Southampton Press

Shooting On Shinnecock Indian Nation Territory Friday Kills One; Police Searching For Person Of Interest

Aug 20, 2019 4:41 PM

A man was shot and killed on the Shinnecock Indian Nation territory early Friday morning, State Police and several Shinnecock members confirmed this week, and the suspected shooter apparently remains at large.

The victim was identified the following day as Mtundu Vanterpool, 43, who was not a member of the Shinnecock tribe, although he lived on the reservation.

Police said they are looking for Michael Gaines, 42, adding they believe he has information regarding the investigation. He also resided on Shinnecock territory as a non-member of the tribe.

On Tuesday, four days after the incident, State Police did not say whether Mr. Gaines had been arrested, nor would they even confirm that he was the suspected shooter.

State Police received a call of a shooting on the Shinnecock territory at around 5:35 a.m. Friday, according to a press release. One person was pronounced dead with a gunshot wound, and State Police are actively investigating the homicide, the release stated.

During a phone call with Tribal Council Chairman Bryan Polite and Vice Chairman Lance A. Gumbs Friday afternoon, they said that State Police were at the scene all day and that they were unaware of the perpetrator’s whereabouts.

“The Council of Trustees is still cautioning everybody just to stay vigilant,” Mr. Polite said Friday.

The tribal council informed community members via email and social media shortly after the incident that the shooter was a 6-foot-1-inch-tall African-American man, heavyset, between 30 and 40 years old, according to a member of the tribe.

“The bottom line is, just, shock,” Mr. Gumbs said. “Nothing like this has ever happened in our community, so it’s basically shock and just trying to deal with that right now amongst our tribal members.”

Earlier in the day, the Nation went into “lockdown mode,” and community buildings were shut down, Mr. Gumbs said. Law enforcement officials had blocked off entry roads but were gone by around lunchtime.

“We just want to make clear that this was a non-Shinnecock-related incident,” Mr. Gumbs said, noting that the shooting involved two men who were not members of the tribe.

The press release noted that Suffolk County Crime Stoppers has a fast cash reward of $1,000 for anyone with information that leads to an arrest connected to the shooting — the reward will be issued within 72 hours. Anyone with information can call State Police headquarters in Farmingdale at 631-756-3300 and all calls will remain confidential, the release stated.

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