Police in Amsterdam don’t know what the plan was when three city teenagers went to a Glen Street home in the early morning hours on Thursday, armed with a shotgun. They know the teens were intent on settling a score, and believe they intended to rob the residence.
Amsterdam Police Chief Greg Culick said what happened next was a tragedy for all involved. Shortly before 3 a.m., one of the teens fired the shotgun through the glass of the front door at 56 Glen St. killing 23-year-old Alexander Martuscello.
Arrested later Thursday morning were brothers Raymond Matros, 18, and Anthony Matros, 16, of Clark Avenue, and Christopher Malave Jr., 19, of Bunn Street. All three were charged with two counts each of second-degree murder, which carries a maximum sentence of 25 years to life in prison.
Culick said Raymond Matros pulled the trigger, but all three are facing the same charges. The weapon used, a Savage Arms 12-gauge shotgun with a pistol grip, was recovered by police with the help of a state police canine. The weapon was found under a woodpile in the backyard of a house near where the shooting took place.
Martuscello, who recently moved to the Glen Street address with two friends, was struck in the upper chest with a 12-gauge slug and died on the scene.
“I don’t know if he was looking to send a message and things went horribly awry,” said Culick of Raymond Matros, “but the course of all their lives changed inexorably.”
Culick said police aren’t sure if Martuscello was the intended victim. He said investigators do know that those who lived in the house and the teenagers “knew each other from the streets,” and that one of the teens had had a fight last week with those that lived there.
Montgomery County District Attorney Kelli McCoski said the two murder counts faced by each defendant cover homicidal intent and the fact that a victim was killed in the commission of another crime -- the attempted robbery.
Montgomery County District Attorney Kelli McCoski explains the murder charges against three Amsterdam teenagers. Photo by Dan Fitzsimmons.
“I don’t know exactly what they were looking for in that residence,” said McCoski, of the attempted robbery.
Culick said none of the individuals involved in the incident, from the suspects to Martuscello and his roommates, had anything significant on their criminal records or were very well known to police. McCoski said there have been no charges filed based on anything that was found inside the Glen Street home by state police, whose forensics unit assisted Amsterdam police in the investigation. Authorities are not aware of any drug or gang connection with the crime.
Culick said Raymond Matros is the one who obtained the shotgun and probably conceived of the idea to go to Glen Street Thursday morning. Police are still trying to figure out where he got the shotgun. He added that Malave was a close friend of the Matros brothers and likely tagged along to back up his friends and scare those who lived in the Glen Street house.
Culick said the arrests in the case were the fastest he’s seen in his 30 years with the Amsterdam Police Department. Officers used a combination of surveillance video, tips from neighbors and even Facebook in apprehending the Matros brothers and Malave Jr. The call for a gunshot victim reached police just before 3 a.m. and the arrests were all made around 11 a.m.
Culick credited his detectives, and in particular Deputy Chief Victor Hugo, with quickly apprehending the suspects. He said his detectives are well-versed in the community dynamics of Amsterdam, and “know the lay of the land, they know the players. They’re incredibly interactive with this community.” He also thanked the state police for help with forensics and the canine that was used in the investigation.
Culick was nearly at a loss to explain the teenagers’ actions, and said he was upset both for the victim and his family, as well as the suspects and their families.
“What goes through somebody’s mind when this happens?” he said. “Where do you unplug from society where this is the right way to handle things?”
He later added, “Our hearts grieve for the loss that the victim’s family suffered.”
Culick said although he has no say in the matter, he believes the suspects, if found guilty, should never get out of prison. That does not, however, mean that he or the investigators on the case don’t also feel for the suspects.
Culick said investigators learned that soon after allegedly committing the murder, the three teenagers gathered at a nearby house and cried together, realizing what they had just done.
McCoski said that 16-year-old Anthony Matros will not be receiving youthful offender status and that she won’t be offering a plea bargain on the charges faced by the three teenagers.