ASTORIA — An Italian academic looking to start a new life in the United States was shot to death by a friend in Astoria using an antique revolver over a real estate deal, police and sources said.
He was taken to Elmhurst Hospital and pronounced dead.
“The defendant is accused of taking the life of a friend who was seeking his help in starting a new life in this country," DA Richard Brown said. "This case is another unfortunate example of the senseless gun violence that seems to more and more permeate our society.”
The friend, Alexander Bonich, 50, of Astoria, was arrested for the slaying and charged with second degree murder, criminal possession of a weapon and tampering with physical evidence.
He faces 25 years to life in prison if convicted.
Sources said that Klinger came to the US on Jan. 24 and was supposed to attend a conference at Hunter College on Bosnia, Croatia and communism, according to what Bonich told investigators. He also told police he was supposed to help Klinger get a job at Hunter.
Hunter College said there is no record of any affiliation between the school and either Klinger or Bonich. The college said there have been no recent or scheduled conferences at the school that match the one Bonich said Klinger was supposed to attend.
He and Bonich, with whom he was staying, had a deal to buy some property in Italy and the supect was supposed to buy the victim a home in Astoria as well, according to the sources. Klinger had given Bonich some cash for the property.
On Saturday, the men started arguing and went to the park near 19th Street and 23rd Road, where the fight continued.
Bonich told investigators that Klinger had a gun and took it away from him.
Klinger started to walk away and Bonich told him to stop. When he didn't Bonich fired one shot, hitting him in the back of the head, the sources said.
After that, he walked up to the victim and shot him in the head again, the sources said.
Then he ditched the clothing he had been wearing, as well as the ammunition and spent shells, according to the DA's office.
Police believe Bonich then threw the gun into the East River. Investigators are waiting for the slack tide before they search the water for the antique weapon, according to Chief of Detectives Robert Boyce.
Klinger's body was found about 2:15 p.m. at the bottom of the stairs near the pool.
Boyce said surveillance footage showed Bonich throwing away some of the victim's belongings.
Bonich had yet to be arraigned as of Monday afternoon, according to the Queens District Attorney's Office. Information on his defense attorney was not immediately available.