One of the witnesses to the murder of Brian J Weiss by Gary L. Zalevsky and then his subsequent suicide is led away by police from the Hilton Garden Inn
Shot five times in the head in front of four witnesses, Brian J. Weiss, 31, was a top official in a Florida dietary supplement company that has been the target of thousands of consumer complaints.
His killer, Gary L. Zalevsky, 47, was observed by video surveillance footage standing up during a meeting with Weiss and four others at the Hilton Garden Inn in Queens, shooting Weiss five times in the head and then turning the gun on himself.
The four surviving members of the meeting tried to leave the hotel without phoning 911, but the police of 106th Precinct rounded them up, although three of them immediately obtained lawyers.
'They are not speaking to us,' said Police Commissioner Ray Kelly, according to a report in the New York Times.
'The story is, supposedly, there was some discussion about establishing some sort of vitamin or food supplement business.
Both Weiss and Zalevsky lived in southern Florida and Zalevsky also had a home in the Manhattan Beach area of Brooklyn.
Investigators involved in the case were attempting to work out whether there was a Russian mafia link to the murder suicide.
'We're not ruling anything out, but right now we simply don't know,' said Kelly.
The fatal meeting tool place in a private room adjacent to the main lobby cafe at the Hilton near to John F. Kennedy airport.
According to witnesses the six men were all speaking in a foreign language which could have been Russian.
Weiss was notorious as the CEO of the disgraced Florida-based food-supplement company called FWM Laboratories.
In 2009 alone, the Better Business Bureau (BBB) in Florida logged in excess of 4,000 complaints against FWM and the state's attorney general made it return more than $34 million to individuals, 'for products they neither ordered nor wanted'.
And again in 2009, the firm was one of 50 sued in Manhattan for falsely implying that Oprah Winfrey and Dr Mehmet Oz backed their products.
It has emerged since the shooting on the afternoon of the 10th of May that a friend of Zalevsky reported speaking to two of the men who were at the meeting.
Known throughout the New York and Floridian Russian community, the two men believed the meeting between Weiss and Zalevsky was going to be about internet marketing.
'I froze up. Never heard anything like that before. I saw four men outside being put down on the ground by some policemen,' said an employee of the hotel.
'There were two dead guys slumped over in chairs. I can’t believe this happened where I work.'
New York Times.
There was no shortage of people who had a problem with Brian J. Weiss.
A top official of a company based in southern Florida that marketed dietary and health supplements over the Internet, Mr. Weiss reeled in a fortune billing people for what had been promised as free samples of colon cleansers, red-wine extracts and anti-wrinkle creams, among other items.
In 2009, the Better Business Bureau in Florida logged more than 4,000 complaints against the company, FWM Laboratories, and Florida’s attorney general forced it to return more than $34 million to people, “for products they neither ordered nor wanted,” according to a statement from the attorney general’s office.
None of that trail of disgruntlement, however, offered an immediate answer to why Mr. Weiss was shot to death Thursday afternoon during a meeting at the Hilton Garden Inn near Kennedy International Airport in Queens. The man who shot him, Gary L. Zalevsky, then killed himself.
Video surveillance footage obtained by detectives shows Mr. Zalevsky, 47, calmly standing up, a stolen .380-caliber Beretta pistol in his hand, walking over to Mr. Weiss, 31, and shooting him five times in the head in a room off the hotel lobby, the police said. Four other men in the meeting literally fell out of their chairs, the police said, and ran for the door.
Officers from the 106th Precinct rounded those men up, though three of them immediately obtained lawyers, “and are not speaking to us,” said Police Commissioner Raymond W. Kelly, who added that a lawyer for Mr. Zalevsky did contact the police.
“The story is, supposedly, there was some discussion about establishing some sort of vitamin or food supplement business,” Mr. Kelly said Friday, adding, “We’re trying to determine, precisely, what the nature of the dispute was and what the business relationship was.”
Two lawyers who represented Mr. Weiss in lawsuits involving his business did not return calls on Friday.