Ex-Sopranos Actor Faces Cop-Murder Charge

Ex-Sopranos Actor Faces Cop-Murder Charge
Lillo Brancato Jr.
David Longendyke/JPI

12/12/2005 AT 08:00 AM EST

An actor whose credits include the role of an aspiring mobster on The Sopranos faces second-degree murder charges in the death of an off-duty New York police officer on Saturday, say authorities.

Actor Lillo Brancato Jr., 29, was hospitalized in critical condition with gunshot wounds suffered when the officer shot him after catching two men breaking into a home. Brancato's friend Steven Armento, 48, was also shot and is in critical condition, reports the Associated Press.

Besides the allegations against Brancato, prosecutors plan to charge Armento with first- and second-degree murder in the death of Officer Daniel Enchautegui, 28, said Steven Reed, a spokesman for the district attorney's office. The two men also face burglary and weapons possession offenses, said Reed.

Enchautegui, a three-year veteran of the force, had returned home after a late-night shift when he heard glass breaking next door. He called 911 to report a possible burglary, and then went after the men, police said. The officer was shot in the chest but managed to shoot both suspects several times, according to police.

Brancato became friends with Armento over a year ago after he began dating Armento's daughter, said neighbor Paula Izurieta, 25. She said she often heard the couple fighting and had a talk with Brancato after one argument a few weeks ago.

"I went down to talk to him to try to get him to go to rehab," she said, according to AP. "He was supposed to go Monday but he didn't."

Brancato, who was arrested in June for heroin possession, was arrested again in Yonkers two days before the shooting after one of Armento's daughters called in a harassment complaint, Yonkers police said. He was charged with disorderly conduct.

Brancato, who got his acting break as a 16-year-old in the 1993 Robert De Niro-directed film A Bronx Tale, appeared in a dozen other films, including Crimson Tide and Enemy of the State. On The Sopranos, he played the character Matt Bevilacqua in six episodes before he was executed by the mob boss.

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