Tag Archives: Arson

Man sets fire to cop car during arson spree near Elmhurst Hospital: DA


By Queens Courier Staff | editorial@queenscourier.com

police car

Updated 5:07 p.m.

A man was busted for trying to set an NYPD cruiser and five other cars on fire near Elmhurst Hospital by stuffing burning rags into the gas tanks, police said.

“The defendant is charged with damaging six vehicles by stuffing a rag in each of the vehicles’ gas tanks and setting it ablaze,” District Attorney Richard Brown said. “These incidents should not be viewed as a prank.”

According to Brown’s office, Miguel Ramos, 23, stuffed a dark rag into the gas tank of a Honda on Layton Street near the hospital before setting the cloth ablaze about 6:30 a.m. on Wednesday. Ramos then went a few doors down to place another lit rag into a Nissan.

After police arrived, four more vehicles were found in the vicinity of the hospital with burning rags stuffed in their tanks, including a Chevrolet,  an Audi and a marked police vehicle, officials said. The fire charred and damaged the rear area and gas tanks of the cars.

Ramos, an Astoria resident, was arraigned on Dec. 4 on three counts of third-degree criminal mischief and six counts of fourth-degree arson,  the district attorney’s office said. If convicted, Ramos could face up to four years in prison.

Police did not immediately have a motive.

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Suspects throw Molotov cocktails into Richmond Hill yard


By Queens Courier Staff | editorial@queenscourier.com

Video courtesy of NYPD

Authorities are looking for several suspects wanted in a Richmond Hill arson.

The suspects, who were caught on video during the May 24 incident, threw two Molotov Cocktails into the yard of a home around 12 a.m. then fled, said police.

There were no reported injuries.

Anyone with information in regards to this incident is asked to call Crime Stoppers at (800) 577-TIPS (8477). The public can also submit their tips by logging onto Crime Stoppers website or can text their tips to CRIMES (274637), then enter TIP577. All calls are strictly confidential.

 

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Two charged with murder, starting fire to cover it up


| mhayes@queenscourier.com

THE COURIER/Photo by Maggie Hayes

Authorities have arrested and charged two men in conjunction with the South Richmond Hill fire that revealed one man tied up and shot.

Jason St. Hill, 17, and Stephen Peters, 22, of Richmond Hill were arrested on Thursday, February 28. Both were charged with kidnapping, arson, murder and burglary, among other charges.

The victim, Azeem Ali, 43, was found unconscious and unresponsive after firefighters extinguished the blaze on 95th Avenue early the morning of Sunday, February 24.

St. Hill and Peters allegedly went to Ali’s second floor apartment to steal money from him. Once inside, Peters punched and pistol-whipped Ali, then tied his hands and feet with electrical cord, according to the criminal complaint.

Peters then went to the basement, where he found gasoline to bring back to Ali’s apartment. St. Hill allegedly held Ali at gunpoint, and Peters demanded Ali’s PIN number and his ATM card.

Then, Peters shot Ali in the head, and poured gasoline around the apartment before lighting it on fire.

After committing the grisly act, St. Hill and Peters allegedly left the scene and went to a gas station where they withdrew $200 cash using Ali’s card.

The pair is being held without bail and will return to court on Thursday, March 14. If convicted, they face up to 25 years to life in prison.

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Apparent murder-suicide attempt in Bayside arson


| aaltman@queenscourier.com

Law enforcement officials stand in front of the Bayside home that was the location of a murder suicide on Wednesday, May 23.

A Bayside woman died after an argument with a man in their shared home on Wednesday, May 23 during what appears to be a murder suicide.

Firefighters responded to a call around 7:30 p.m. at 39-20 214th Place after neighbors saw smoke and smelled gasoline. Both victims were found in the basement by responding law enforcement officials. According to sources, the woman was found unconscious with trauma to her chest. The man was found nearby and had reportedly hung himself.

Sources alleged the man doused the home with gasoline and started a fire before attempting to take his own life.

Both victims were taken to different hospitals. Published reports state the woman died at Flushing Hospital while the man is in critical condition at New York Hospital Queens.

The couple, said to be in their 50s, argued frequently, according to neighbor George Gomez. He also said the woman frequently gambled – a catalyst for many of their fights.

It is not certain if the two were married. The couple has reportedly lived in the home for a time of between several months to a year.

Carol M., the couple’s next-door neighbor said the couple always seemed kind and never showed any signs of discord.

Jeffrey Gottlieb bows out of 6th District Congressional race


| brennison@queenscourier.com

JEFF GOTTLIEB PHOTOw

The hotly-contested 6th Congressional District race that has featured allegations and pot shots has its first casualty.

Jeffrey Gottlieb denied the nomination on Wednesday, April 18 and transferred the signatures he received to Stephen Green, a Rosedale resident, the Board of Elections said.

The announcement comes just days after the candidates submitted their petitions to the Board of Elections, with Gottlieb being among six Democratic candidates who collected the necessary signatures.

From the get-go, Gottlieb’s run set-off a firestorm of accusations.

Assemblymember Rory Lancman accused the Board of Elections employee of being a “sham” candidate whose entrance into the race was solely to divide the Jewish vote.

At the time Gottlieb said he was prepared to run a spirited campaign despite the attacks, but a New York Post report regarding a prior charge of arson led to him bowing out.

The Post reported last week that Gottlieb was arrested on charges of arson in 1971 for setting fire to his apartment.  The charge was plea-bargained down to fourth-degree criminal mischief, the paper reported.

A source close to Gottlieb told the New York Times that the personal strain for the public disclosure caused the candidate to quit the campaign.

Gottlieb could not be reached for comment.

The primary election will be held on June 26.

New Year’s fire bomber, Ray Lazier Lengend, charged with hate crime


| mpantelidis@queenscourier.com

THE COURIER/File photo

An alleged arsonist arrested for a series of fires started on New Year’s Day is feeling the heat after being indicted on state and federal hate crime charges.

Ray Lazier Lengend, also known as Suraj Poonai, was taken into custody on January 3 – two days after police believe he threw glass bottles filled with gasoline at six occupied buildings in Queens and Long Island, two of which were places of worship.

The 40-year-old Queens Village resident was charged in a 36-count indictment, including arson as a hate crime, grand larceny, reckless endangerment, criminal possession of a weapon and endangering the welfare of a child. He faces a maximum sentence of 25 years to life in prison – with a minimum jail term of 20 years – if found guilty.

According to Queens District Attorney Richard Brown, Lengend, who drove a silver Buick Regal that was stolen from a rental car facility at John F. Kennedy Airport, visited two separate gas stations in the vicinity of the Van Wyck Expressway on January 1 – purchasing glass coffee bottles at the first and filling the containers with gasoline at the second.

Lengend then proceeded to visit five sites in Queens – a deli on Hillside Avenue, a home on 107th Avenue, the Imam Al-Khoei Foundation mosque on the Van Wyck Expressway, a residence on 170th Street which is also used as a Hindu house of worship, and a dwelling on 43rd Avenue – and heave Molotov cocktails at the structures, according to the charges. Police say he also threw a fire bomb at one building in Long Island.

Lengend purportedly admitted to police that he planned to inflict as much damage and “take out” as many Muslims and Arabs as possible.

“Particularly troubling is the fact that the defendant is alleged to have been motivated by hate in at least two of the instances where he is alleged to have struck at a Muslim house of worship and attempted to strike at a second location which is a Hindu house of worship,” said Brown. “Hate crimes – whether they are motivated by religion, color, ethnicity, sexual orientation, or gender – will not be tolerated here in Queens, the country’s most diverse county. When they do regrettably occur, they will be condemned swiftly and those responsible will be brought to justice.”

Authorities say Lengend was recognized by a deli employee – who witnessed the suspect attempting to shoplift a bottle of Starbucks Frappacino and a small plastic bottle of milk on December 27 and expelled him from the store. Witnesses also spotted the stolen Buick Regal at several sites.

No injuries were reported in relation to the attacks, but one of the homes did sustain heavy fire damage in the living room. The damage on the mosque was minimal.

“We trust the court system to do the right thing, and we would like for justice to take its course,” said Syed Razvi, representative of the Imam Al-Khoei Foundation. “We don’t want to return back the hatred with which he came towards us. A person like this definitely has to be made an example of. I hope he serves his sentence, and that will serve as an example and deter people from performing similar crimes in the future, especially against houses of worship.”

Mom Throws Baby Out Window to Escape Suspicious Fire in Jamaica


| jlane@queenscourier.com

Graphic by Jay Lane

Mom Throws Baby Out Window to Escape Suspicious Fire in Jamaica

A desperate mother threw her baby out the second-floor window of a Queens home that was engulfed by a suspicious blaze early Thursday, fire authorities and witnesses said. The child, who couldn’t have been more than 2 or 3 years old, landed safely in the arms of civilians who gathered on the sidewalk next to the flaming building, said Dan Delargy, one of the first FDNY responders with Ladder 155. Delargy said the baby came flying out the window as he was walking in the front door of the Jamaica home. The cause of the fire is unknown at this time, but officials are considering it suspicious. Captain Anthony Varriale said the blaze appears to be intentionally set. Read More: NBC News

 

Feds Arrest Fugitive “Folk Nation” Gang Leader

Federal authorities on Wednesday announced the arrest of a fugitive leader of a violent Brooklyn and Queens street gang. The U.S. Attorney’s office in Brooklyn says Devon Rodney is in custody and is awaiting arraignment. He and eight other accused members of the “Folk Nation” gang were indicted last month for murder and racketeering. One of the men is still on the loose and the rest have already been arraigned. Authorities believe the crew is behind four murders, three attempted murders, and a string of assaults and robberies. Read More: NY1

 

Ray Kelly ‘threat’ man makes bail

A Brooklyn man busted for allegedly making threatening comments online about Police Commissioner Ray Kelly was freed on $10,000 bail yesterday and ordered to stay away from the top cop. Richard Strauss, 49, had railed against Kelly in the comments section of Gothamist.com, where, using the handle Ladder157, he called the commissioner “an enemy of the people.” “A well-placed round of 7.62 ammo to his thick skull would work quite well to eliminate the threat he poses. All New Yorkers should aim their sights (both figuratively and literally) on this piece of excrement,” the comment read. Read More: New York Post

Racino ‘scam’

Two Aqueduct racino employees were charged yesterday with giving phony “high roller” comp cards to gamblers in exchange for a cut of their winnings. Moises Jones, 29, of The Bronx, and Rolanda Roberts, 33, of Brooklyn, allegedly earned several thousand dollars by distributing nearly 200 fake cards. Read More: New York Post

Bronx woman arrested for stabbing a 3-month-old girl during a wild argument with the baby’s mother

A Bronx woman has been arrested for stabbing a 3-month-old baby in the head amid an argument with the child’s mother, prosecutors said. “I hope that f—ing baby dies!” Candie Hailey-Means, 28, shouted as she plunged a blade into little Hazel Haliburton’s head, court papers show. The toddler suffered a fractured skull, a black eye and other injuries during the attack on Friday. She remains hospitalized at Lincoln Medical Center, but doctors expect she will survive, sources told the Daily News Wednesday. Read More: Daily News

Mosque firebomber faces life in prison for hate crimes


| jlane@queenscourier.com

Graphic by Jay Lane

Mosque firebomber faces life in prison for hate crimes

The Queens pyromaniac who went on a New Year’s Day firebombing spree appeared for his Thursday arraignment looking like he could use a few swigs from the frappucino bottles he used during his hate-filled rampage. Ray Lazier Lengend looked groggy and dazed as he sat slumped in a chair at Bellevue Hospital for an arraignment piped by video feed into Queens Criminal Court. Lengend, 40, responded to Supreme Court Justice Lenora Gerald’s questions with one-word answers, occasionally closing his eyes. Read More: Daily News

Queens Business Owners Call For Litter Crackdown

 Queens residents are facing a big trash problem on Liberty Avenue. There are overflowing garbage cans, garbage bags on the sidewalks, and litter all over the street between the Van Wyck Expressway and Woodhaven Boulevard. “It’s a daily problem,” says one resident. The merchants are paying for it. The Department of Sanitation has ticketed many for not keeping their storefronts clean, but Paul Singh, owner of New Union Turnpike Auto Parts, says tidying up is next to impossible. Read More: NY1

Courier publisher to appear on Geraldo’s radio show on WABC 770AM at 10AM today

The publisher of The Queens Courier, Victoria Schneps-Yunis, will join Geraldo Rivera’s radio program on January 6 to discuss the 40th anniversary of his reports on the deplorable conditions for the children at the Willowbrook State School. It was in 1971 that Schneps, along with members of WORC, the Working Organization for Retarded Children, picketed the school to fight for the rights of Schneps’ daughter Lara and the 5,400 residents at Willowbrook, a Staten Island school for mentally disabled children. The story took off when Rivera, then a reporter for ABC television, reported on the neglect the children at Willowbrook faced. Read More: Queens Courier & Listen to the live stream at 10AM at WABC

Mets Fans Turn Out For Annual Winter Blood Drive

It may be January, but Mets fans headed back to Citi Field Thursday. It was mostly about blood, not baseball, as the team held its annual winter blood drive. Donors received a voucher for tickets to a Mets game in April, as well as a discount at the Mets team store. All of the donations will go to the New York Blood Center. “Particularly this blood drive being just after the first of the year, we are really replenishing diminished supply over the holidays from the past two weeks, holidays and schools being off. So this is a tremendous opportunity for community members to come out and save lives,” said Diana Zaferiou of the New York Blood Center. Read More: NY1

Archbishop Timothy Dolan one of 22 new cardinals named by Pope Benedict XVI

Pope Benedict XVI named 22 new cardinals Friday, including prelates in such key posts as New York and Hong Kong and a large group of Italians holding major Vatican positions. The Archbishop of New York Timothy Dolan, and former Archbishop of Baltimore, Edwin O’Brien, were among those named by the pope. Dolan said in a statement today, “Over the Christmas holy days, I finished a new biography of President Kennedy and I recalled his reply to someone who sincerely congratulated him on the honor of the presidency. ‘Thank you,’ John Kennedy replied, ‘but I don’t look at it so much as an honor, but as a call to higher service.’ Read More:  New York Post

‘Jail farewell’ tour

A Queens landlord is a free man after being acquitted of murder yesterday — but his freedom train is making stops at both Rikers Island and an upstate prison. Jailed four years, three months and one week since his 2007 arrest, Michael McLennon, 41, was more than eligible to be sprung immediately on the weapons-possession charge on which he did get convicted. But correctional red tape required that he spend last night in Rikers, and then be bused to Downstate Correctional prison in Fishkill today so his release can be processed, said his lawyer, Tamara Harris. Read More: New York Post

‘Proof’ of robbery

This “brandy bandit” should have saved the celebrating until after the heist. A gun-toting thug was busted Tuesday after detectives traced his fingerprints off a bottle of cheap booze he left outside the T-Mobile store in Queens he allegedly robbed, cops say. Gregory Kennedy, 31, is now accused of pocketing $11,435 from stick-ups at 11 Dunkin’ Donuts, T-Mobile stores and other businesses between October 11 and December 30. On November 25, Kennedy drained a half-pint of Paul Masson Grand Amber while staking out a T-Mobile store on Jamaica Avenue from an unlicensed livery cab, law-enforcement sources said. Read More: New York Post

Ten MS-13 gang members from Flushing indicted for racketeering 

Ten members of the infamous MS-13 gang from Flushing were indicted Thursday on racketeering charges, including violent machete and baseball attacks against rivals, authorities said. “The only people who should be wielding baseball bats in Flushing are Mets, not MS-13,” said Police Commissioner Raymond Kelly. Federal agents and NYPD detectives arrested eight of the thugs in early morning raids while two others were already incarcerated. The defendants were members of a powerful clique of Mara Salvatrucha 13 wreaking havoc in their Queens neighborhood since 2007, authorities said. Read More: New York Post

Four Attacks in Queens With Homemade Firebombs


| jlane@queenscourier.com

Graphic by Jay Lane

Four Attacks in Queens With Homemade Firebombs

A Fire Department official on Monday said it was fortunate that the damage was minimal from a series of arson attacks across eastern Queens on Sunday night that the police were investigating as a possible bias crime against Muslims. No one was hurt in the four attacks, in which homemade firebombs were apparently used. In three of the four attacks, the police said, Molotov cocktails were made with Starbucks bottles. The first attack occurred just before 8 p.m. at a bodega at 179-46 Hillside Avenue. Ten minutes later, another crude firebomb was thrown, this time at the home at 107th Avenue, and the house caught fire. Read More: New York Times

Authorities Release Sketch, Video Of Suspect In Queens Firebomb Attacks

Authorities say the suspect, seen above in surveillance video and a police sketch, is between 25 to 30 years old, about 5-feet-8-inches tall and weighs about 200 pounds. He was seen driving a light-colored, four-door sedan. Police say the first cocktail was thrown at a bodega on Hillside Avenue in Jamaica around 8 p.m. Sunday and it damaged the store’s counter. Fewer than 10 minutes later, a second call came in about a homemade firebomb being thrown at a house on 107th Avenue. Read More: NY1

MTA Conductor Charged With Assaulting Passenger

An Metropolitan Transportation Authority conductor is charged with assault after police say he punched a passenger on an R train in Queens. Police say Thomas Christopher, 35, hit the passenger, identified by sources as 18-year-old Zaid al-Doori, after arguing with him near the 36th Street station Sunday morning. Published reports say Christopher was upset because al-Doori had put his feet up on the seats. Read More: NY1

Driver In Custody Following Deadly LIE Crash

One person was killed this morning following a fiery accident on a Queens highway, which was possibly fueled by New Year’s Eve drinking. Officials say the accident happened just after 5 a.m. on the Long Island Expressway. Police sources say a car was rear-ended near the Maurice Avenue exit, causing it to flip over and catch on fire. The driver of that car was pronounced dead at the scene. Sources say the driver of the second vehicle was taken to Elmhurst Hospital in police custody. Read More: NY1

37 feet from disaster at JFK

An airline crew’s failure to follow controllers’ instructions caused the scariest runway incident last year at Kennedy Airport, authorities said yesterday. On June 30, the pilots of a Cairo-bound EgyptAir Boeing 777 mistakenly taxied just 37 feet shy of a runway where they would have been in the path of a Lufthansa jet speeding toward takeoff, the Federal Aviation Administration said. Controllers had told them to make a left turn to another taxiway, the FAA said. With seconds to spare, the Lufthansa crew brought the Airbus A340 to a screeching halt, partly by jamming on its brakes so hard that they overheated. Read More: New York Post

Teacher out on her butt

A foulmouthed teacher got her butt fired after she told a group of ninth-graders “they had their brains in their ass,” then tried to bribe a student to save her hide, officials said. The city Department of Education accused Bernadette Camacho, 39, of verbally abusing social-studies students at Hillcrest HS in Queens, according to investigation documents The Post obtained through a Freedom of Information request. But during the hearings that would decide her fate, the teacher tried to coerce a flunking female student to sing her praises in court in exchange for a passing grade, officials said. Read More: New York Post

Stun-of-a-gun gal arrested at JFK

A Chinese national was busted trying to sneak a stun gun through a security checkpoint at Kennedy Airport, the Transportation Security Administration said yesterday. Sihui Xie, 21, was trying to board a flight to Orlando Friday when a TSA screener spotted the pen-sized stun gun tucked in her carry-on bag. At first the item appeared to be a flashlight, but a closer look revealed it to be a stun gun/flashlight hybrid. Port Authority cops arrested the woman and charged her with possession of a weapon in the fourth degree. Read More: New York Post

Actress-threat gal is slapped

A Queens woman was indicted yesterday for allegedly sending threatening e-mails to Oscar-winning French actress Marion Cotillard. Teresa Yuan was charged by a Brooklyn federal grand jury with five counts of transmitting threats to the film star, who won an Academy Award for best actress in 2008 for her role as Edith Piaf in “La Vie en Rose.” Brooklyn federal prosecutors said Yuan e-mailed a video to the actress’ Internet fan site asking: “Would you be willing to play Russian Roulette? You have only one out of six chances of being shot. You have five out of six chances of living.” Yuan was arrested this past summer by the FBI and arraigned in August. She remains free on bail while awaiting trial, officials said. Read More: New York Post

Mourners Gather At Fallen NYPD Officer’s Funeral


| jlane@queenscourier.com

Graphic by Jay Lane

Mourners Gather At Fallen NYPD Officer’s Funeral

Family, friends, and fellow officers will gather on Long Island today to say a final goodbye to a city police officer who was gunned down last week in Brooklyn. The funeral for Officer Peter Figoski will take place at 11 a.m. at the Parish of St. Joseph Church in Babylon. Mayor Michael Bloomberg was among the hundreds who paid their respects on the second day of Figoski’s wake yesterday. Police say Figoski, 47, was shot in the face by Lamont Pride, 27, during a botched robbery last Monday morning in Cypress Hills. Pride is charged with first and second degree murder in Figoski’s death. Read More: NY1

 

Kim Jong Ils death rocks North Korea, gives region jitters

It was the scenario strategists from Beijing to Washington fretted over: Kim Jong Il’s sudden death befalls North Korea, before the isolated regime completed a power transfer to his young son and rejoined disarmament talks with the US. With news of Kim’s death Monday, the impoverished country with a nuclear program plunged further into uncertainty, raising risks for the region. Read More: New York Post

 

Roughin’ it to roofin’ it

Sheryl-Ann Peters’ occupation was never televised. But unlike Occupy Wall Street protesters — who recently seized a vacant East New York home and moved in a homeless family — her housing takeover was entirely legal. Peters became a first-time homeowner last month thanks to an affordable-housing program for neighborhoods hardest hit by the housing crisis. The city bought the vacant, foreclosed, three-bedroom in St. Albans, Queens in August 2010 for $266,833 under a federal housing program. It added $177,190 worth of renovations, bringing the total worth to $444,023. Read More: Daily News

 

FDNY: Five Firefighters Injured In Brooklyn Brownstone Fire

Five city firefighters were hospitalized Monday while fighting a two-alarm fire in brooklyn. The New York City Fire Department says crews responded to a three-story brownstone located at 1102 Prospect Place in Crown Heights just after 9 a.m. Two firefighters were taken to Cornell Burn Center, one of whom suffered burns over 40 percent of his body. Three others were also injured. No civilians were hurt. The fire was under control in about an hour. Read More: NY1

 

Sources: Cornell Wins Bid For Roosevelt Island Tech Campus

Cornell University is about to become the winner of a competition to build a new science and engineering campus in the city, sources tell NY1. An official announcement from Mayor Michael Bloomberg is expected later today. The city has offered free land on Roosevelt Island and up to $100 million worth of infrastructure. In a major sign of strength, the Cornell bid received a $350 million anonymous donation to help build the campus. Stanford University — another top contender — announced Friday it was pulling its bid. Columbia and NYU were also in the running. Read More: NY1

 

Brooklyn Man Awaits Arraignment For Burning Woman Alive

A Brooklyn man is expected to be arraigned today on charges he killed a woman by setting her on fire in her apartment building elevator. Jerome Issac, 47, is charged with murder and arson. Police say he turned himself in yesterday reeking of gasoline and saying he set a fire. Investigators believe he waited for Deloris Gillespie, 73, on the fifth floor of her building in Prospect Heights Saturday afternoon. Police say Isaac is the man seen in surveillance photos. When the elevator doors opened, they say Isaac sprayed Gillespie with a liquid accelerant, and kept spraying after she crouched down. They say he lit a Molotov cocktail and set Gillespie on fire, then tossed the flaming bottle in the elevator and kept spraying the victim. Read More: NY1

 

Haggerty sent to prison for 1 and 1/3 years for Bloomberg campaign cash theft

Disgraced political consultant John Haggerty — described by his own lawyer as broke, divorced and dishonored — was sentenced this morning to serve at least one and one-third years — and as much as four years — in prison for stealing hundreds of thousands of dollars in campaign cash from Mayor Bloomberg. The sentence was handed down by Manhattan Supreme Court Justice Ronald Zweibel, and immediately enacted, with Haggerty being cuffed and led away to a back holding cell for processing. The sentence covers Haggerty’s October conviction for money laundering and second degree grand larceny. Read More: New York Post

Playground torched


| jlane@queenscourier.com

doc4e839d4aa0bfb986082239 (1)
Sometime between the evening of Tuesday, September 27 and the morning of Wednesday, September 28, an individual or group apparently set fire to a playground, located in Alley Pond Park, at the intersection of Springfield Boulevard and 76th Avenue in Oakland Gardens.

According to officials, the fire damaged both the ground surface and several pieces of playground equipment.
The New York City Department of Parks and Recreation has initiated an investigation.
“Anyone who witnessed the action or has relevant information should come forward,” said Councilmember Mark Weprin. “The children of our community have lost access to a beautiful and safe place to play.”

Anyone with information on this crime should call the NYPD Crime Stoppers hotline at 800-577-TIPS or Weprin’s office at 718-468-0137.