The owners of Coney Island's Shoot the Freak vowed to sue amusement giant Zamperla, charging their Boardwalk business was illegally razed behind their backs.
The company tore down the game and boarded up the property this week - even though eviction proceedings are still pending in court.
Shoot the Freak is one of nine longtime Boardwalk businesses the Italian amusement company is trying to boot. Their lawyer earlier sent Zamperla a letter warning not to meddle with the properties until the eviction battle is settled.
"It's like I've been robbed," said owner Anthony Berlingieri, who found all his equipment and props gone when he showed up at the site Wednesday.
Berlingieri and partner Carlo Muraco plan to ask a judge next week to declare the eviction illegal, block Zamperla from bulldozing anything else, and make them pay for the confiscated material.
The city owns the land and leases it to Zamperla. City officials said they'd review whether the move against Shoot the Freak was allowed.
"Under its lease, [Central Amusement International]'s construction is ongoing in anticipation of the summer opening of its expanded amusement park. We'll review the steps taken yesterday to make sure they are compliant," said Economic Development Corp. spokesman David Lombino said.
Zamperla declined to comment. The company wants all the Boardwalk businesses gone as soon as possible, but especially needs the space where Shoot the Freak sits to build an entrance to its new Scream Zone amusement park, plans show.
Berlingieri said he was devastated by the loss of his game - but not shocked Zamperla would knock it down without asking him. "Everything I worked the last ten years for...is gone," he said. "They've been dishonorable from day one...If you hang out with a bunch of thieves and someone robs you, you're not surprised."
But Muraco said the fight to stay in Coney wouldn't stop just because the property has been cleared. "We'll have to pull [the boards] down and and rebuild Shoot the Freak and reopen, unless they get a court order that says we can't," he said. "If they tear it down, we'll build it up again."
Read more: http://www.nydailynews.com/ny_local/2010/12/23/2010-12-23_coney_islands_shoot_the_freak_owners_say_game_was_torn_down_boarded_up_behind_th.html#ixzz1933Np0gI