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DA Wants Upgraded Charges Against Retired NYPD Officer Who Shot Man in Head

By Gwynne Hogan | March 13, 2017 3:15pm
 Joseph Stepinski died four days after getting shot in the head by his Greenpoint neighbor.
Joseph Stepinski died four days after getting shot in the head by his Greenpoint neighbor.
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GREENPOINT — Prosecutors said on Monday they plan to push for upgraded charges against the retired NYPD officer charged with last week's fatal shooting of a lifelong neighborhood resident.

Former officer Gene Barrette, 51, shot his neighbor, Joseph Stepinski, in the head on March 6 when their long-running feud boiled over in front of 185 Greenpoint Ave. where they both lived, according to the acting-Brooklyn District Attorney.

Barrett held the police off for two hours and, at one point, told a lieutenant, "It was me," as he flashed a silver handgun, according to prosecutors.

Stepinski, 45, whose girlfriend was the building manager, succumbed to his injuries Friday, four days after the shooting. 

Prosecutors, who have already charged Barrett with attempted murder, will now ask a grand jury to consider additional charges, Helen Peterson, the DA's spokeswoman said. She declined to specify what those charges would be.

The Medical Examiner's Office did not immediately respond to a request for information on the death.

Barrett, who retired from the police force in 2002 on a disability pension, is being held without bail and is due back in court on March 24, court records show.

Family members said they were aware soon after the shooting that Stepinski was mortally wounded, but his death still hit them hard.

"I'm gonna miss his face and his kindness," said his cousin Larry Stepinski, 49, who grew up and still lives three blocks away from Joseph's home. He said he saw his cousin nearly every day since they were kids and would play video games, sports and go to Rangers and Nets games together. 

"I’m gonna miss having my cousin. He was definitely better than me, he’d beat me seven out of ten times. I'd get him though, I'd get him every once in a while," Larry said with a chuckle.

Joseph always cared for others, he added, and had moved in with his mother to care for her after she suffered stroke. He was also helping take care of his girlfriend's two young children and often picked them up from school, Larry said.

Stepinski's funeral is scheduled for Stobierski Funeral Home at 161 Humboldt St. Tuesday afternoon from 2 to 5 p.m and 7 to 9 p.m.