The Neptune Murders
Police Officer Mcleod drove radio car 2 (RC2) into the front parking lot of Neptune with roof lights fully activated. He guided the patrol car to a stop about 15 feet from the door where Cowan had entered just minutes before. Mcleod had no idea that already several people lay dead inside. He saw several employees running through the side parking lot. For the first time, he may have realized the seriousness of the situation. His hand moved instinctively toward his .357 magnum, resting in its holster. Cowan, still up on the second floor and hidden behind heavily tinted glass, watched the defenseless cop exit his patrol car. He put the rifle to his shoulder, took careful aim and fired a burst through the office window. The rounds hit Mcleod in the head, chest and heart. He was killed instantly, leaving his young wife without a husband, his little kids without a father. As he lay on the ground, Cowan fired several more rounds at Mcleod's body. Such was the man's hatred.
Simultaneously, other police cars roared onto the scene. Police Officer Ray Satiro, 28, jumped from his car and attempted to assist Mcleod. Cowan opened up with full force, firing dozens of rounds from his semi-automatic weapon. The cops bolted for safety. Officer John Fitzgibbons ran from his unit and sought cover behind an open door. A bullet went through his right hand. Seconds later, Lt. Vincent Fontanarosa, the road supervisor, arrived at the scene and immediately crashed into a parked car as the bullets rained down upon his police cruiser. Later, eleven bullet holes were counted in his radio car including five directly through the front windshield. Fontanarosa was hit in his upper arm but returned fire at the second floor window, emptying his revolver in the process. He screamed over his radio for help. Meanwhile, Satiro, seeing Mcleod motionless on the ground, briefly took cover behind a telephone pole. In an act of true courage, while bullets ricocheted off the pavement around him, Satiro, a 1966 Viet Nam veteran, decided to act. He made a frantic dash to pull Mcleod's body to safety. He could not have known that Mcleod was already dead. As he ran to assist the fallen officer, Satiro took a bullet in his right leg and crawled back to cover. He would survive but the wound would plague him for the rest of his life.
As desperate cries for assistance from the trapped officers went over the police radio, an army of cops descended upon the scene. Shots repeatedly rang out from the second floor office at Neptune. The siren on RC 11 had been left on, emitting an ear-piercing, steady wail. Within minutes, the siren roof unit was shot out by Cowan. Over 100 rounds were fired in the first few minutes of the battle. Police snipers arrived, including Officer Schraud who was pulled out of the police locker room as he was changing from his uniform to go home. "When I got there, it looked like World War III. Me and another detective found an abandoned office in a building across the street. We had a good line of fire on Cowan but we couldn't see him behind the tinted glass. It was very frustrating!" he said. Soon, New Rochelle Police Commissioner William Hegarty arrived and a command post was set up next door at the Schaefer grocery building. Panic-stricken employees fled the besieged office building sometimes bumping into cops who were scurrying around to locate good firing positions. More than one employee was put down on the ground under gunpoint by cops, fearful it may be the shooter who was attempting to escape. It was pandemonium. And all during this time, Mcleod lay on the cold, barren pavement, unable to be rescued, a cruel reminder of any police officer's uncertain destiny and the finality of death. Schraud recalled the awful scene: "I saw him laying there. The gunfire, it was so intense, we couldn't help him. It brought tears to my eyes."