A dispute over an inherited house in Borough Park devolved into bizarre bloodshed yesterday when a Borough Park man shot his brother in the face with a homemade gun, then later turned the gun on himself. The victim, 63-year-old James Athanasatos, is in stable condition and expected to live, but he will likely lose an eye. His brother, Thomas, 74, had allegedly invited James to come to the house to settle their differences over their family home, where Thomas lived in the basement.
"The gun was like something from the pilgrim days, like a musket,” George, the third Athanasatos brother, tells the Times. “A pipe with a trigger." According to George, the brothers had been feuding since at least 1974, when Thomas's marriage fell apart and he moved into the basement of the family home, where he was "mooching off my mother and father for 40 years. [My mother] was ironing his clothes, taking care of him, giving him an allowance."
George says he led police to Thomas's basement room expecting to find him long gone "on a Greyhound bus headed to Wyoming." Instead, they found Thomas dead from what investigators believe to be a self-inflicted gunshot wound.
Neighbor Angel Roldan Jr. says the brothers were at odds over whether to sell the house, which was rented out on the upper floors. “Tom didn’t want to sell the house," Roldan Jr. tells the Post. "His parents bought it and... when his mom passed away, Tom took care of the house and the bills." Another neighbor tells the Daily News, "The fight has been going on for years. Nobody could dream (Thomas) would do anything like this. He was such a sweet man."