By Kathryn G. Menu
An ex-convict with a criminal past linked to Noyac was admitted to the psychiatric unit of Stony Brook University Hospital on Tuesday, September 25. Police say there was an altercation at the suspect’s Wading River home after police went to the house to question the 60-year-old about a missed parole meeting and a drug enforcement officer had to open fire on the suspect after he allegedly pointed a handgun at himself and then police officers.
According to a press release issued by the Suffolk County District Attorney’s office on Wednesday, September 26, Thomas Michael Counihan, of Wading River-Manor Road, currently on probation for a drug possession charge, displayed a loaded Colt .45 while investigators from the East End Drug Task Force searched his room last Tuesday night for illegal narcotics after Counihan missed a parole meeting.
The press release states that Counihan grabbed the gun from the top of his bed and first pointed the gun barrel at his face, then his chest. Counihan then began to turn the gun towards two officers, according to police, and it was at that point one of the officers fired one shot at Counihan, missing him, but prompting the suspect to drop to the floor.
In Counihan’s room, officers say 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.
“It is clear the police officer’s discharge of his weapon, given the circumstances, was justified,” said Suffolk County District Attorney Thomas Spota.
According to District Attorney Spota, when Counihan is released from the psychiatric unit of Stony Brook University Hospital he will be charged with Criminal Possession of a Loaded Handgun, a felony, as well as for 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,” he said.
Counihan’s criminal history includes 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, said police.
Part of Counihan’s criminal history also dates back to the Sag Harbor area.
According to a 1990 article in The Sag Harbor Express, written by then reporter Thomas Horn, Jr. — now a Sag Harbor-based attorney — in July of 1988 Counihan was arrested for possession of two ounces of cocaine, holding “a large amount of cash” that did not exceed $1,000 as well as various drug packing materials.
At the time, Counihan was residing in the Noyac Road residence that belonged to his mother, Josephine Counihan, and the suspect’s ex-wife.
At the time of the 1988 arrest, Counihan was already on parole from a 1982 conviction for armed robbery and was indicted on the drug charges.
After his arrest, Southampton Town Police, in conjunction with the Drug Enforcement Agency, made application to the U.S. Attorney’s Office and a warrant for seizure of the Noyac Road property was issued.
After police proved in court that Counihan’s mother allegedly was aware of the criminal activity taking place at the home, the house was seized on February 15, 1990 with police taking control of the residence that July.
Forty-five percent of the proceeds of the home’s sale went to Counihan’s ex-wife, 45 percent was transferred to Southampton Town Police and 10 percent given to the federal government, according to Horn’s article.
After the house was sold, it was demolished by new owners in the early 1990s.
In Horn’s article, Southampton Town Police termed it “the first decision of its kind for a property located on Long Island.”