The father of Stephen Feinberg, the founder of the private-equity firm that owns gunmaker Freedom Group Inc., lives in the town where a Freedom Group-made rifle was used to kill 26 people in an elementary school.
Martin Feinberg, whose son founded Cerberus Capital Management LP in 1992, is a resident of Liberty at Newtown, a community for people 55 and older that’s about 6 miles from Sandy Hook elementary school. Cerberus today announced it will sell Freedom Group, which makes the Bushmaster semi-automatic rifle that authorities said was used to kill 20 children between the ages of six and seven, as well as six adults at the school.
The shooting was “devastating,” Martin Feinberg said in a brief interview in the foyer of his building. “It’s horrendous, truly horrendous.”
Cerberus bought the Bushmaster gun operation in April 2006, one in a series of acquisitions Feinberg’s firm used to build Freedom Group into the nation’s biggest manufacturer of guns and ammunition, with nine plants and 3,100 employees. The decision to sell it came just hours after California Treasurer Bill Lockyer said he’ll propose that the state’s public pension funds, the two largest in the U.S., dump investments in firearm manufacturers that make guns prohibited under state law.
The White House yesterday reiterated President Barack Obama’s support for a new ban on assault weapons and lawmakers called for stricter gun-control laws.
Newtown had a population of 27,605 as of 2010, according to its economic development commission. The median household income was $111,506 as of 2011, and the median age was 41. Liberty at Newtown describes it on its website as “that quaint, perfect New England town that we picture in our minds.”
The residence consists of housing units that are clustered together, with a main entrance serving as many as eight residences. Each home is one-floor, has a private two-car garage and is “designed with the look and feel of a great mansion,” according to the website. An elevator from the foyer leads to the second and top floor in each.
There’s no gate at the entrance. Instead, a stone edifice about 10 feet high carries a sign announcing it as Liberty at Newtown. A sign on the driveway leading into the neighborhood says “private community.”
Martin Feinberg was dressed casually and sat in an armchair during the short interview, saying he was “very proud” of his son, who he said grew up in Spring Valley and Yonkers, New York, before attending Princeton University.
He declined to comment on Cerberus’s ownership of Freedom Group.
Stephen Feinberg, 52, was a trader at Drexel Burnham Lambert before starting Cerberus. His company oversees about $20 billion in assets, including private equity and hedge funds. It once owned Chrysler Corp.
The Newtown shooting was the deadliest massacre in the U.S. since 33 people died in a 2007 rampage at Virginia Polytechnic Institute and State University in Blacksburg, Virginia.
To contact the reporters on this story: Devin Banerjee in New York at email@example.com; Cristina Alesci in New York at firstname.lastname@example.org; Freeman Klopott in Newtown at email@example.com
To contact the editor responsible for this story: Christian Baumgaertel at firstname.lastname@example.org