Lawyer accused of holding teen at gunpoint after prank

January 25, 2012 5:49:00 PM PST
A woman who thought her house was being targeted by pranksters took matters into her own hands, but she was the one that ended up under arrest.

The Greenwald residence is a perfectly manicured slice of Americana, just like any house in the suburbs, with two parents, two kids and a dog.

But late Sunday night police say Bernadette Greenwald snapped.

"I thought at first it was firecrackers because the game was going off and I thought they were celebrating the Giants win," said Robert Leek, a neighbor.

No, it was gunfire that rocked the quiet Rockville Centre neighborhood, and cops say 47-year-old Greenwald, a respected lawyer, is the one who pulled the trigger.

She allegedly fired a 9mm handgun into the air, after someone rang her doorbell, as a prank.

"For all I know she believed somebody was right outside her house and she was trying to scare somebody," said Mitchell Barnett, Greenwald's attorney.

Her attorney Mitchell Barnett insisted Greenwald wasn't trying to hurt anyone, but police arrested her for menacing, allegedly mistaking a teenager who lives down the block, for a prankster.

In this statement, he told police he'd been coming home from watching the game at a friend's house, and passed another teen walking in the other direction.

That's when he heard commotion inside the house, and walked towards it, to find Greenwald, with a gun.

"She was pointing this gun at me as she was walking towards me. She kept saying 'What are you doing?' She said that a few times. I was scared. I put my hands up in the air. She walked past me and around me. I started backing up towards her house. She walked me right into her house. The woman's daughter was on the stairway and said, 'Don't shoot him, you'll go to jail.' The mother said, 'Go back to bed,'" said Joe Kennedy in a statement.

Someone in the house called police and reported a burglary in progress, but arriving officers wound up arresting Greenwald, and letting the teenager go.

This story is from our sister station, WABC-TV in New York.