Tag Archives: 109th precinct

Family fun day draws 5,000 to Whitestone park

| asuriel@queenscourier.com

Photos courtesy of George Mirtsopoulos, Alfredo Centola and We Love Whitestone

Saturday was a fun day taken to another level in Whitestone.

More than 5,000 people were packed into Francis Lewis Park on Saturday for the 109th Precinct’s second annual Whitestone Family Fun Day.

The festival—co-sponsored by the We Love Whitestone civic group—was fun for all ages but particularly geared toward the youngest members of the community.

Activities included face painting, an on-site balloon artist, two inflatable bouncy houses, fresh cotton candy, a DJ and an NYPD rock wall. The biggest attractions of the day were the pony ride feature and an on-site pumpkin patch with pumpkin painting activities. Additionally, Mets mascot Mr. Met himself made an appearance.

Precinct Community Council President Chrissy Voskerichian said that drawing out so many people effectively gained positive public exposure for the police department. It was the first opportunity to meet local police officers for many attendees, and the station aims to facilitate especially strong relationships with young people to teach them to feel safe in the hands of law enforcement.

“These events are all about community-police partnerships and relationships,” Voskerichian said. “It’s about working together in good times and bad and showing that one can’t exist without the other.”

Assemblyman Edward Braunstein appeared at the event with his wife and newborn son.

“Thank you to the 109th Precinct Community Council & We Love Whitestone for sponsoring Family Fun Day, which was a great event and had a tremendous turnout,” Braunstein said.

According to We Love Whitestone Vice President George Mirtsopoulos, a massive amount of food was provided and served to participants, with a total of 1,500 hotdogs, 800 hamburgers and 500 cupcakes eaten throughout the day.

Mirtsopoulos said that it was a pleasure working and partnering with 109th Precinct Deputy Inspector Thomas Conforti and the 109th Precinct Community Council led by Voskerichian.

“The weather was great and a fun time was had by all,” Mirtsopoulos said.


Missing Queens Village woman found dead in trunk of her car in Flushing

| rpozarycki@queenscourier.com

Photos courtesy of NYPD

Updated Sept. 12, 10:35 a.m.

The decomposing body of a Queens Village woman – who was reported missing a week ago – was found in the trunk of her own car on a Flushing street Thursday night, according to police.

Officers from the 109th Precinct made the grim discovery at 8:36 p.m. Thursday while responding to a call regarding a suspicious vehicle parked near the corner of 22nd Avenue and Murray Street.

After noticing a foul odor emanating from the trunk of the Nissan Maxima, authorities said, the officers opened the trunk and discovered the body of Angie Escobar, 28, with multiple stab wounds to her torso. Police determined that the vehicle was registered in her name.

Escobar was reported missing a week earlier; she was last seen on Sept. 4 at 11 p.m. at her 221st Street residence.

The body was transported to the Medical Examiner’s office, where Escobar was subsequently identified.

The Nissan Maxima belonging to Escobar, in which the body was found. Photo courtesy of NYPD.

The Nissan Maxima belonging to Escobar, where her body was later found. (Photo courtesy of NYPD)

Meanwhile, police ask the public’s help in finding Luis Zambrano, 30, of 150th Street in Flushing, who was identified in published reports as Escobar’s former boyfriend and is wanted in connection with the homicide.

According to authorities, Zambrano was last seen driving the Nissan Maxima in close proximity to his residence. He is described as standing 5 feet 7 inches tall, weighing 200 pounds and having a bald head.

Anyone with information about the murder or Zambrano’s whereabouts is asked to call Crime Stoppers at 800-577-TIPS, visit their website or send a text message to 274637 (CRIMES), then enter TIP577. All calls and messages are kept confidential.


Burglaries, other crimes take big downturn in 109th Precinct: cops

| asuriel@queenscourier.com

THE COURIER/Photo by Alina Suriel

Major crimes from murders to burglaries are down drastically across the 109th Precinct this year, the precinct’s commanding officer reported during Wednesday’s 109th Precinct Community Council meeting in Flushing.

According to Deputy Inspector Thomas Conforti, there have been 258 fewer victims of serious crime this year than at the same point in 2014.

Burglaries had the steepest decline over the last year at 40 percent, with 198 incidents this year compared to 330 in 2014. Conforti said this is due to the recent arrests of known burglars over the course of the last eight months.

Stolen vehicles are also significantly down in the 109th Precinct, with approximately 30 percent less than this time last year. A total of 32 fewer vehicles were stolen altogether.

The decrease in car thefts is most clearly seen in the numbers of the most popularly stolen car in the 109th Precinct, the Ford Econoline van. That model of car alone has seen a decrease in theft from over 40 stolen last year down to 22 so far in 2015.

Although overall crime is down, the deputy inspector said that lot of crime that does happen can be prevented by locking the doors of parked vehicles.

Conforti estimated that over 85 percent of larceny from autos would be prevented if residents locked the doors of their unattended cars, including a recent theft in which an envelope with $10,000 in cash was stolen from an unlocked car.

“New York City is a safe place, Queens is a safe place compared to years past,” Conforti said, “but we still live in a major city and we’re targets because it’s a nice area.”


Fun for all at Whitestone Family Day

| asuriel@queenscourier.com

Photos courtesy of George Mirtsopoulos/We Love Whitestone

From rides to arts and crafts, plenty of excitement is in store during the second annual Family Fun Day in Whitestone‘s Francis Lewis Park scheduled for later this month.

Organized by the 109th Precinct Community Council and the We Love Whitestone civic group, the event will take place on Saturday, Sept. 26, from noon to 4 p.m.

Planned features and activities include pony rides, face painting, an on-site balloon artist, two inflatable bouncy houses, a pumpkin patch with pumpkin painting, fresh cotton candy, a DJ and an NYPD rock wall. The Whitestone Volunteer Ambulance, fire department and local elected officials are also expected to attend.

Community Council President Chrissy Voskerichian said that Family Fun Day is just one event in the 109th Precinct’s yearlong effort to connect with the community, and the council makes an effort to have large-scale community programming every quarter.

These events aim to help residents feel comfortable with the officers in their precinct, especially younger children still learning about the important role of police in maintaining public safety.

“It’s a great way to work together, and for the community to get to know their police officers,” Voskerichian said. “It gives children positive interaction with police at a very early age.”


We Love Whitestone president Alfredo Centola has been working with the civic group to procure donations for Family Fun Day, and did so in a smaller capacity last year.

According to Centola, a total of 22 business have donated in addition to funds collected from private citizens, and Pepsico has pledged to provide beverages for the day.

“It’s really a nice feeling. It brings the community together with the precinct, merchants and children,” said Centola. “It’s kind of like a culminating event to end the summer.”

Anyone interested in donating to Family Fun Day can contact the We Love Whitestone group by email at welovewhitestone@gmail.com.


Man dies in College Point truck crash

By Queens Courier Staff | editorial@queenscourier.com

Image via Google Maps

A 56-year-old truck driver died behind the wheel Tuesday morning after reportedly suffering a heart attack causing him to crash into three parked cars, according to authorities.

At about 10:45 a.m. police officers of the 109th Precinct responded to a 911 call of a vehicle collision at 15th Avenue by 117th Street in College Point. Upon arriving, they found the driver of a tractor trailer truck – whose identity was withheld pending family notification – unresponsive and unconscious, police said.

Emergency personnel responded and took the driver to NewYork-Presbyterian/Queens where he was pronounced dead.

A preliminary investigation determined that the driver was traveling eastbound on 15th Avenue when it struck three unoccupied parked vehicles before coming to a stop, cops said.

According to the NY Post, the driver had suffered a cardiac arrest before swerving the truck into the cars.

The Medical Examiner will determine the exact cause of death and the investigation by the NYPD’s Highway Collision Investigation Squad is ongoing.


Teen caught after hoverboard theft in Whitestone

| asuriel@queenscourier.com

Photo via Twitter/@NYPD109Pct

It’s a must-have item, even for thieves.

A 17-year-old was apprehended in Whitestone Sunday only 30 minutes after stealing a trendy self-balancing electric scooter, according to authorities.

Edward Diee, 17, first encountered the victim — another minor whose name and age were not released by police — riding the scooter on the 147th block of 15th Drive at 8:30 p.m.

Police said Diee initially approached the victim and began speaking to him, asking a number of questions before finally hitting him, shoving him to the ground and taking the scooter.

The victim’s family quickly called 911 to notify police of the incident, and the suspect was found less than 30 minutes later by patrol cars cruising the area.

After being positively identified, Diee was arrested and charged with one count of robbery in the second degree.

Self-balancing electric scooters are popularly known as “hoverboards” despite not actually levitating off the ground, and consist of a foot rest between two wheels which propel themselves forward without any effort from the user.

Wired.com reports that boards can cost between $600 to $1,800 each and that celebrities such as Nicki Minaj, Justin Bieber and Chris Brown have all been seen using them.


Four ATM skimming devices found in past two weeks in 109th Precinct

| asuriel@queenscourier.com

Photos courtesy of the NYPD

Police are cautioning the public to be mindful of erroneous charges on their accounts after four ATM skimming devices were found in the past two weeks in the 109th Precinct.

Two of the devices were discovered in automated teller machines located inside a Flushing Duane Reade store at 136-02 Roosevelt Ave., according to a statement released over social media by Deputy Inspector Thomas J. Conforti. Two additional devices were found affixed to gas pumps at the gas stations located in Whitestone at 17-55 Francis Lewis Blvd. and on the Bayside border at 29-16 Francis Lewis Blvd.

Police said that the devices were respectively discovered by workers at Duane Reade and gas station owners, who then immediately called NYPD to investigate.

Deputy Inspector Conforti said police do not know how long the devices were in place.

The Inspector further stated that it is usually a couple of months after finding the device that victims may begin to notice suspicious charges on their bank accounts.

The NYPD is advising consumers who may have used charge cards on these ATM machines or gas pumps since Aug. 1 to call credit card or bank companies and inform them of cards which may have been compromised.

The case is being investigated by the Financial Crimes Task Force. Any suspicious activity or crime should be immediately reported to the 109th Precinct.


Crews wipe out hateful message found written in Flushing sidewalk

| rpozarycki@queenscourier.com

Photos courtesy of City Councilman Peter Koo

Whoever wrote an anti-Asian message into the sidewalk near a Flushing condominium won’t have the satisfaction of seeing it any longer.

Crews from the Department of Transportation (DOT) on Tuesday morning erased the slur from the sidewalk slab in front of the Cherry Manor Condos at 141-18 Cherry Ave. A photo of the vandalism, apparently written while the cement was drying after being recently poured, was posted on a Facebook group on Saturday and subsequently shared with City Councilman Peter Koo.

Koo’s office then contacted the DOT and the condo management, both of which resolved to take action as quickly as possible. The DOT’s Sidewalks and Inspection Management Division buffed away the markings.

“It is critical that the community take an immediate stand against this kind of hate speech wherever and whenever it surfaces,” Koo said. “We embrace our diversity here in Flushing as a strength that should be celebrated and nurtured, and we will stand vigilant against racism in all forms.”

No one knows who wrote the message on the sidewalk, but the 109th Precinct is investigating the crime.


Cops in 109th Precinct recover loaded gun from emotionally disturbed man

| asuriel@queenscourier.com

Photo via Twitter/@NYPD109Pct

Officers in the 109th Precinct disarmed an emotionally disturbed man possessing a loaded gun on Friday, according to police.

“I cannot stress how dangerous of a situation the officers were placed in,” Deputy Inspector Thomas J. Conforti said in a statement. “It is a true testament to the professionalism and bravery of these officers, given the circumstances, that the incident was defused without a single injury to anyone involved.”

The four officers responded to a 911 call shortly after 9 p.m. at an undisclosed location within the 109th Precinct’s confines about an emotionally disturbed man suffering from depression. After arriving at the location and approaching to establish a verbal dialogue, the officers observed a firearm in the man’s hand and immediately sought cover.

The man complied with the officers’ initial demands to put down his firearm, but picked up the weapon once again when he was approached to be taken into custody. After the officers convinced the man to put down the gun for a second time, police said, he was tackled and the weapon — a loaded 9mm handgun — was secured.

“Great job to each and every officer,” NYPD First Deputy Commissioner Benjamin B. Tucker said via Twitter. “Thank you for relying on your communication skills to resolve the job peacefully.”


Elderly man found dead at Flushing’s Maple Playground in apparent suicide

| agiudice@ridgewoodtimes.com

Photo courtesy Robert Stridiron

A 74-year-old man was found dead inside Maple Playground in Flushing early Saturday morning after an apparent suicide, police said.

The man’s body was discovered hanging from a piece of exercise equipment at 6:45 a.m. on Saturday in the playground located near Kissena Boulevard and Maple Avenue, authorities said.

The victim’s name has not been released and an investigation is ongoing.


PHOTOS: Queens residents enjoy a fun ‘Night Out’ with New York’s Finest

By Queens Courier Staff | editorial@queenscourier.com

THE COURIER/Photo by Angy Altamirano

Promoting greater harmony between police and the people they serve, Tuesday’s National Night Out Against Crime brought thousands of Queens residents out to venues across the “World’s Borough” for family-friendly activities.

From Astoria to the Rockaway Peninsula, each Night Out event included free games and activities for children of all ages as well as refreshments, live music and other entertainment. Residents also had the opportunity to meet with the officers who serve their community and learn more about the NYPD’s various crime prevention programs.

Local elected officials, including Queens Borough President Melinda Katz and Queens District Attorney Richard A. Brown, attended each gathering and presented proclamations to the precinct commanders. Police Commissioner Bill Bratton, who made the rounds at Night Out events across the city, stopped by the 113th Precinct’s Night Out in Springfield Gardens.

The National Night Out Against Crime, founded by the National Association of Town Watch, aims to strengthen relationships between law enforcement and the communities. Millions of people across the U.S. and Canada were estimated to have participated in Night Out events Tuesday evening.


Burglar strikes several homes near Bowne Park in Flushing

| rpozarycki@queenscourier.com

Photo via Wikimedia Commons, Inset courtesy of NYPD

The NYPD is asking for the public’s assistance in finding a man wanted for a recent burglary pattern in the area surrounding Flushing’s Bowne Park dating back to June.

Police released on Thursday morning a surveillance camera image of the suspect, described as a black male wearing a white bucket hat and a gray jogging suit while carrying a backpack.

The first incident occurred between 9 a.m. and 1 p.m. on June 16, when the crook entered the backyard of a home on 158th Street and was observed trying to enter through a window. Police said he fled after he was unable to get inside.

His second burglary attempt also failed, police said, when he unsuccessfully tried to enter through a window of a 154th Street home on June 25 between 3 and 10 p.m.

Police said the burglar finally succeeded on July 1, when he broke into a home on 28th Street between 1:30 and 4 p.m. and removed an undetermined amount of property.

Then, on July 2 between 3:30 and 6:30 p.m., authorities said, the bandit broke through a rear window of a home on 25th Avenue and stole two gold rings and a pair of earrings.

All of the incidents took place within the confines of the 109th Precinct.

Anyone with information regarding the burglary pattern or the suspect’s whereabouts is asked to call Crime Stoppers at 800-577-TIPS, visit their website or send a text message to 274637 (CRIMES), then enter TIP577. All calls and messages will be kept confidential.


Suspect sought in forcible touching of teen in Flushing

| aaltamirano@queenscourier.com

Photo/video courtesy of NYPD

Police are looking for a man wanted for forcibly touching a 14-year-old girl in Flushing last month.

On June 29 at about 1 p.m. the victim was walking near 41st Avenue and Main Street when the suspect approached her from behind and grabbed her buttocks several times, according to cops.

The man then fled the scene; there were no reported injuries.

Police describe the suspect as a black man in his early 30s, 5 feet 8 inches tall and weighing 200 pounds.

Authorities have released surveillance video and photos of the suspect.

Anyone with information regarding the incident is asked to call Crime Stoppers at 800-577-TIPS, visit their website or send a text message to 274637 (CRIMES), then enter TIP577. All calls and messages are kept confidential.


Five-alarm inferno in Queens Village amid stormy weather

By Queens Courier Staff | editorial@queenscourier.com

Photo via Twitter/@FDNY

Updated Monday, June 1, 11:24 a.m.

Firefighters battled a five-alarm inferno at a Queens Village commercial building Sunday night amid wild weather that caused street closures borough-wide due to flooding.

According to the FDNY, the blaze broke out at about 6:30 p.m. on the ground floor of the warehouse located in the area of 218th Street and 98th Avenue.

Hundreds of firefighters from across the city were battling the inferno, which was upgraded to a five-alarm fire at about 8:47 p.m. Sunday. No injuries were reported, and the blaze was brought under control about four hours later.

The 109th Precinct tweeted that the odor of heavy smoke from the fire wafted across northeast Queens. Residents in the Queens Village area were advised to keep their windows closed and limit outdoor activity until the smoke dissipated.

The cause of the fire remains under investigation.

Meanwhile, as thunderstorms carrying torrential rains rolled through the city, the Office of Emergency Management (OEM) reported numerous road closures due to flooding.

As of 9:01 p.m. Sunday night, the OEM reported flooding forced the closure of the westbound Jackie Robinson Parkway at Union Turnpike in Glendale and the Long Island Expressway at Utopia Parkway in Fresh Meadows. Both roads have since reopened.

The 104th Precinct also reported that part of Cypress Avenue at Vermont Place in Glendale was closed after a sinkhole developed at a construction site.


SUV smashes into Flushing supermarket, injuring five

By Queens Courier Staff | editorial@queenscourier.com

Photo via Twitter, @NYPD109Pct

Updated Wednesday, May 27 

An out-of-control sports utility vehicle turned a Flushing supermarket into a drive-thru Tuesday afternoon, injuring four people plus the driver in the process.

Police said the accident occurred at about 6:30 p.m. inside the Pathmark located at 31-06 Farrington St.

A 72-year-old woman was behind the wheel of the Mercedes Benz SUV when she suddenly accelerated while in the supermarket parking lot and drove into the wall of the store before coming to rest inside, cops said.

Officers from the 109th Precinct and EMS units responded to the scene.

Four people and the driver received minor injuries and were transported to local hospitals. Three of the victims were reportedly transported to New York Hospital Queens, while two others were taken to Elmhurst Hospital.

An investigation is still ongoing.