Man charged with striking neighbor with car, fleeing scene

Posted: Updated:
SHIRLEY -

A man was charged Saturday with striking his neighbor with his car and fleeing the scene.

Investigators say Michael Gruce, 50, ran over a man while backing a Ford Ecoline van out of a driveway on Winston Drive in Shirley around 10 p.m. Friday night.

The pedestrian, who has not been identified by police, has non-life-threatening injuries.

Investigators say they tracked Gruce down less than two hours later, about two and a half miles from the scene of the incident.

On Saturday morning, as he was led out of the police precinct on his way to court, Gruce told News 12 that "nothing happened."

"They've got the wrong person, it wasn't me," he says.

In the courtroom, Gruce’s attorney painted a completely different picture – claiming the alleged victim is a drug addict who made up the entire story.

Lawyers say the suspect and the victim are neighbors and share the same two-family house.

People who live nearby told News 12 that they don’t get along.

Prosecutors say he was taken to a nearby hospital with a broken shoulder, as well as cuts and scrapes.

Gruce has prior arrests, including a felony conviction and four misdemeanors. He was charged with fleeing the scene of an accident and reckless endangerment.

His bond was set at $5,000.

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