The Facebook profile of Anthony DiGeronimo – the Saturday night after he charged them with knives in both hands – was both a landing spot for friends to memorialize him and for others to draw their own conclusions and demonize his final, fatal act.
In his profile photo, DiGeronimo, 21, dons a spiked mask over his nose and mouth with chains adorning a back shirt. His interests include the familiar (hanging out with friends, music, techno), the fringe (graffiti, occult, Gothic) and the disturbing (choking, humiliation, collecting weapons).
The latter was on full display in photos posted to his MySpace profile. DiGeronimo showed off a cache of large blades and knives in photos posted online. Taken together with his philosophical rants, it paints a portrait of a troubled young man. It was information police quickly seized upon in the hours after the shooting.
“He’s a self-described anarchist,” Nassau County Police Commissioner Lawrence Mulvey said at a Sunday press briefing at police headquarters in Mineola. “He’s into Satanism.”
But friends and family say it’s all an act.
“Truth is I really, really wish I knew what made this happen because the Anthony I know is a harmless, quiet, soft-spoken polite kid,” said one friend who asked not to be named. “That’s what really caught me off guard. He was the type of kid who got picked on and stuff in school, which pretty much led to him bringing blades around and all that Satan BS. But that was all a front, like a defense mechanism, you know.”
A teenager who claimed to be his cousin recalled a doting, brotherly figure who collected giraffes. “I was very close to him,” she said via email. “We grew up very close. He was like a brother to me my entire life. He always made me laugh. He was hilarious. He had a collection of giraffe figures. He loved giraffes."
The 6-foot-2-inch DiGeronimo was a 2007 graduate of Massapequa High School. His cousin said he had no immediate plans to go to college and didn’t have a job.
Nobody answered when Patch knocked at the door of his parents’ home on Sunday afternoon. That same residence, on the corner of Fourth Avenue and Front Street, was a hive of police activity late Saturday into Sunday.
It all unraveled quickly. Police responded to a report of a man with several knives menacing the neighborhood. DiGeronimo jumped on the hood of a car on Front Street driven by a woman in her 70s, Nassau police Lt. Kevin Smith said. He brandished one of his knives and struck the car with it in a stabbing motion.
“He tried to stab the car,” Smith said.
When police arrived, DiGeronimo fled. He ran into his house and locked himself in a back room. Officers gave chase and evacuated his parents from the home. Moments later, DiGeronimo opened the door and lunged at the officers. That’s when they opened fire, striking DiGeronimo seven times.
“He barged out of the room in a wild manner with the knife above his head,” Mulvey said. “Masked leather; Satanic garb; knives all over his body. He had knives in both hands.”
Police did note that DiGeronimo had no prior record.
“He really flies under the radar,” Smith said. “We knew nothing about this guy.”
Even for those who claim to have known DiGeronimo, he will remain a mystery.
A Facebook friend told Patch: “He didn’t do drugs. At least I never saw him on or doing drugs. And I didn’t know him that well, but he was a friend and a kind person. I’ve heard he started carrying weapons because he was bullied. And all the news making him out to be a monster makes me sick. No one should have died last night.”