The killing of a noted European historian in Queens on Saturday over a failed real estate deal in Italy was part of bloody week in which the number of homicides in New York City so far this year increased by 18 percent from last year, police said Monday.
Through Sunday, 39 people have been killed in the city this year, compared with 33 in the same period last year, according to the latest NYPD data. Shootings are also up, by about 22 percent, through noon Monday, numbering 98 so far compared with 80 last year.
William Klinger, 42, an ethnic Italian who was born in Croatia, was found shot twice about 2:30 p.m. by two women passersby in Astoria Park, near 24-02 19th Street, NYPD Chief of Detectives Robert Boyce said Monday during a briefing.
Klinger had a bullet wound in his head and one in his neck and was pronounced dead after being taken to Elmhurst Hospital. Boyce said identity papers on Klinger quickly allowed detectives to contact his wife in Italy who said her spouse was in New York for an academic conference.
Klinger's online biography says he spoke six languages and was an authority on the late Yugoslavian leader Josip Broz Tito as well as the history of the Balkans.
Boyce said Klinger's wife said her husband had been in contact with a friend, who detectives identified as Alexander Rudolph Bonich, 49, another Croatian author and translator who lived in Queens.
Bonich was interviewed at the 114th Precinct. After being confronted with a surveillance video that showed him disposing of garbage bags of clothing, Bonich admitted he shot Klinger with an antique gun in a dispute over the real estate deal, Boyce said.
Bonich said he tossed the gun in the East River and Boyce said police were waiting for a low tide to dredge the area to find the weapon. Boyce said Bonich was arrested Monday morning on charges of second-degree murder, criminal possession of a weapon and evidence tampering, adding that details of the real estate deal had yet to be verified.
Another bloody incident adding to the city's weekend toll was a gang-related shooting in Manhattan late Sunday at a club on West 136th Street, where a 28 year-old man was killed and two other men and two women were wounded, police said.