Verizon workers stop Flushing rape, chase down suspect


| mchan@queenscourier.com |

THE COURIER/Photo by Melissa Chan
THE COURIER/Photo by Melissa Chan

Verizon technicians Michael Popowich, Anthony Howley and John Gilday stopped a rape in Flushing.

Three Queens-bred heroes thwarted a rape in Flushing last week by chasing, catching and sitting on the attacker until cops arrived.

Verizon technicians Michael Popowich, Anthony Howley and John Gilday were finishing up a job at 150-24 Northern Boulevard on October 30 when they saw a man lurking across the street around noon.

They said the alleged assailant, identified by police as 53-year-old Young Song, ran up to a woman who was leaving a corner café and put his hand on her waist.

“It’s a busy area. I didn’t really think much of it,” said Popowich, 50, who was born and raised in Astoria. “At first we weren’t sure anything was amiss. We thought maybe he was a friend.”

But then the man “got a lot more aggressive and physical with her” and allegedly pushed her down to the ground, they said.

“She had a skirt on. He put his hand up her skirt and proceeded to pull her underwear down,” Popowich claimed. “No one did anything.”

The three technicians shouted, but the noise did not scare him off, said Gilday, 53, of Douglaston.

“When we yelled at him, he didn’t even move,” Gilday said. “As we were walking over to him, that’s when he ran.”

The trio sprang into action and chased the man, who ran onto the street. They caught him and brought him to his knees, they said.

“The three of us manhandled him back onto the sidewalk,” Popowich said. “We sat on him with all of our weight until the police showed up.”

Song, a Flushing resident, was arrested and charged with rape, sexual abuse and unlawful imprisonment, police said. He did not know the victim before allegedly attacking her, the victim told her rescuers.

“It was surreal to see something happening like this in broad daylight in the middle of Northern,” said Howley, 41, of Forest Hills. “It was basic instincts that kicked in to help this woman.”

The good Samaritans said the act was not heroic.

“We just reacted,” Gilday said. “I have daughters, a wife, sisters — I hope if something like that was happening to them, someone would do something about it. I don’t want to see that happen to anybody.”

 

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