Volume 81, Number 6 | July 7 - 13, 2011
West and East Village, Chelsea, Soho, Noho, Little Italy, Chinatown and Lower East Side, Since 1933

Photos by Clayton Patterson

Monica and Paul Shay, both in 1990.

E.V. activist couple and a nephew shot in Penn. bloodbath

By Albert Amateau

Paul Shay, 64, and his wife, Monica, 58, residents of E. 10th St., were shot and critically injured Saturday in their weekend Pennsylvania home in a bloodbath in which a 2-year-old boy was killed, along with Joseph Shay, 43, Paul Shay’s nephew.

The boy’s mother, Kathryn Erdmann, 37, of Fall River, Mass., who was Joseph Shay’s girlfriend, was also critically injured in the shooting in the Bechtelsville, Pa., home.

The shooter, Mark Richard Geisenheyner, 51, with a long criminal record, was himself shot to death by Pennsylvania police after a six-hour siege in the home of an acquaintance in Trainer, Pa., about 40 miles from Bechtelsville.

Geisenheyner shot all the victims in the head with a .22-caliber pistol, the 2-year-old, Gregory Erdmann, being asleep at the time. Geisenheyner then fled to the Trainer home of a man he had met in a halfway house and demanded refuge.

After Geisenheyner fell asleep around 2 a.m. Monday, the man fled and called police, who responded with a SWAT contingent. Geisenheyner was armed with a .45-caliber pistol when he was killed. It is not known if the .22-caliber murder weapon has been recovered.

Geisenheyner was reportedly seeking vengeance in connection with an insurance fraud involving a 2006 fire that damaged the Shays’ Bechtelsville home.

A painting that Paul Shay reported stolen after the fire was found in Geisenheyner’s possession and he was sentenced to prison for two-and-a-half years. Geisenheyner was also reported as saying that Paul Shay stiffed him in connection with the insurance payout.

But the details of the fraud, if indeed there was one, are still uncertain.

Paul Shay, owner of a plumbing business called A Real Good Plumber, and his wife Monica, an associate professor at Pratt Institute in Manhattan, are prominent neighborhood activists. They helped the East Village squatters who took over city-owned buildings in the 1980s. They also supported the encampment that homeless people set up in Tompkins Square Park.

Paul Shay frequently hired men who were down on their luck, including his slain nephew, Joseph, who served time in New York for passing bad checks. Joseph lived with Paul and Monica in their home at 263 E. 10th St. for the past two years.

Monica Shay is also a member of the October 22 Coalition, a group working to stop police brutality and helping its victims. On Tuesday night, a group of the couple’s friends held a vigil in front of their house between Avenue A and First Ave.

On Sunday night, someone who lived in the building on E. 10th St. where the Shay family lived for 20 years, Lisa Medoff, a resident herself for 14 years, said of Joseph, the nephew: “He’d hang out on the stoop a lot. He’d hold the door open if I had groceries.

“They’re really lovely people,” Medoff said of Paul and Monica Shay. “We’d always chat.”

With reporting
by Jefferson Siegel

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