A member of the Guardian Angels volunteer anti-crime group was shot to death by a police officer outside a housing project, authorities said yesterday.
There were conflicting accounts of events leading up to the fatal shooting of Frank Melvin, 27, at 11 p.m. Wednesday as he walked outside a senior citizens building with a group of Angels.
After police had refused comment for 10 hours, Lt. Armando Fontoura said patrolman Milton Medina shot Melvin from the rooftop of a tavern after the officer mistook him for a burglary suspect.
But Curtis Sliwa, founder of the group, said other Angels told him Melvin was shot from about 10 feet away at street level "for no apparent reason." Sliwa also alleged that police would not allow Angels, trained in emergency first aid, to attempt to revive Melvin through cardio-pulmonary resuscitation.
"I have no reaction to that right now," said Fontoura.
Melvin was shot after helping fix a leak in the apartment of a resident of the senior citizen's building, according to Sliwa's wife, Lisa.
Group spokesman Eric Caple said Melvin was the first Guardian Angel to die while on patrol. The group had met with resistance in its attempt to gain the endorsement of Newark authorities to patrol housing projects.