Tag Archives: Bayswater

‘Hero’ cop mourned at Far Rockaway funeral


| editorial@queenscourier.com

Photos by Eric Jankiewicz/Guerra photo courtesy of NYPD

BY CRISTABELLE TUMOLA AND ERIC JANKIEWICZ

A police officer who died after responding to a Brooklyn fire was remembered in Far Rockaway as a heroic member of the force, dedicated to his job and family.

Loved ones, city officials and thousands of NYPD officers were among those who came out to say goodbye to 38-year-old Bayswater resident Dennis Guerra at his funeral, held at St. Rose of Lima Church Monday.

“Thank you to all those who are here to remember the heroic and courageous acts of Officer Guerra,” Police Commissioner Bill Bratton said, before announcing the posthumous promotion of Guerra to first-grade detective. “God bless Dennis who was once, and forever will be, an officer in blue.”

Bratton then recounted Guerra’s ascent up the law enforcement ladder, from a school safety officer, to a corrections officer, and finally to a police officer over eight years ago.

“We’ll always remember with sadness that day he left us but we’ll also remember the courage he displayed,” Mayor Bill de Blasio said at the service. “Dennis is an example for us all.”

Among the many politicians who attended the funeral were Comptroller Scott Stringer, Public Advocate Letitia James, Brooklyn Borough President Eric Adams and Brooklyn District Attorney Ken Thompson.

Curtis Mitchell, Guerra’s brother-in-law, also spoke during the funeral, and described how the officer would cook for the whole family on weekends and became known as the “grill master.”

“He was recently called a hero,” Mitchell said. “But to his family, he was always a hero and forever will be.”

“I wish I had another chance to say, I love you,” he continued.

The fallen cop, who left behind a wife and four children, aged 7 to 20, died Wednesday after being overcome with smoke from an April 6 arson fire in Coney Island.

Guerra and fellow housing officer Rosa Rodriguez, 36, were critically injured in a blaze at a Surf Avenue housing development when the elevator doors opened on the 13floor and the officers were engulfed in smoke.

Both officers suffered from carbon monoxide poisoning and the effects of smoke inhalation.

Rodriguez reportedly remains hospitalized.

Marcell Dockery, who lives in the housing development where the deadly fire started, was indicted on a charge of second-degree murder Friday, according to published reports. He was already charged with arson, assault and reckless endangerment.

The teen allegedly lit a mattress on fire because he was “bored,” reports said.

 

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Teen charged with murder in Coney Island fire that killed Queens cop


| ctumola@queenscourier.com

Photo courtesy of NYPD

A 16-year-old who allegedly set a Coney Island fire that killed a police officer from Far Rockaway has been charged with murder, according to published reports.

Marcell Dockery, who lives in the housing development where the deadly blaze started, was indicted on a charge of second-degree murder Friday, reports said. He was already charged with arson, assault and reckless endangerment.

The teen allegedly lit a mattress on fire because he was “bored,” according to reports.

Two NYPD housing officers, Dennis Guerra, 38, and Rosa Rodriguez, 36, were responding to the fire on Sunday when they were critically injured, police said.

After taking the elevator to the Surf Avenue building’s 13th floor, they were overcome by smoke in the hallway, when the doors opened, officials said.

Both officers suffered from carbon monoxide poisoning and the effects of smoke inhalation.

Guerra, a Bayswater resident, passed away Wednesday, leaving behind a wife and four children, according to officials. Rodriguez  reportedly remains hospitalized.

A visitation will be held Sunday for Guerra from 2 to 9 p.m. at the James Romanelli-Stephen Funeral Home in Ozone Park, according to published reports. His funeral service will take place the following day at 11 a.m. at Saint Rose of Lima Church in Rockaway Beach.

 

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Queens cop hurt in Coney Island fire dies


| ctumola@queenscourier.com

Photo courtesy of NYPD

An NYPD housing officer from Far Rockaway who was injured in a Coney Island fire allegedly set by a teen has died.

Dennis Guerra, 38, passed away at 6:50 a.m. Wednesday, police said. The Bayswater resident leaves behind a wife and four children, according to officials.

“This brave officer gave his life in service of others,” said Assemblyman Phil Goldfeder. “The entire Rockaway community mourns a neighbor, friend and hero. We will keep his wife and children in our thoughts and prayers.”

Guerra and Officer Rosa Rodriguez, 36, were responding to a fire at the Coney Island Housing Development on Surf Avenue when they were both critically hurt, police said.

The blaze broke out about 12:30 p.m. Sunday on the 13th floor. The two officers took the elevator up to the fire, but as the elevator doors opened, the officers were overcome by smoke in the hallway, according to officials.

Firefighters found the officers unconscious and unresponsive, and pulled them out of the building. Both suffered from carbon monoxide poisoning and the effects of smoke inhalation.

“[Guerra] went selflessly towards the flame, selflessly towards those who are in danger, no matter what the risk to him,” Mayor Bill de Blasio said in a statement.

“It’s something that our police officers do every day. It’s something our first responders do every day. It is something we need to appreciate every day.”

Photo via Twitter/@NYPDnews

In a ceremony at NYPD headquarters Wednesday, flags were lowered to half staff in honor of Guerra.

Rodriguez, who is also a Queens resident, remains hospitalized in critical condition, according to reports.

A 16-year-old resident of the Coney Island building, Marcell Dockery, was arrested the following day for setting the blaze, police said.

He allegedly lit a mattress on fire because he was “bored,” reports said.

Dockery has been charged with arson, assault and reckless endangerment, but those charges are reportedly expected to be upgraded this week, according to Newsday.

Following the fire, the NYPD said it is reviewing procedures to see if any changes in training need to be made, the publication also reported.

 

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Far Rockaway residents still receiving Verizon bills despite no service since Sandy


| mhayes@queenscourier.com

THE COURIER/Photo by Maggie Hayes

It’s been five months since 77-year-old Arquilla Heard has been able to make a phone call.

Since Sandy, the Far Rockaway resident — and many of her neighbors in the Ocean Bay Houses — have had no cell phone service from Verizon.

Heard has received monthly phone bills since the storm, some reaching nearly $200. Despite not having service, she paid November’s bill, but has since refused to make payments.

“Maybe I have my own wires crossed, but to bill people without service seems negligent to me,” said Councilmember Donovan Richards. “For my seniors and my youth who may have had an emergency and no phone to dial out, this is a crime.”

“I don’t have the money to keep paying bills,” said Heard. “I need my phone. It’s a necessity.”

On Monday, March 25, Richards held a press conference outside the Ocean Bay Houses demanding that Heard and others in her predicament receive a six-month credit for the services they have not received since October, as well as an additional three-month credit for the inconvenience.

“It’s a crying shame that Verizon is so insensitive that they would still send bills to people’s mailboxes,” he said.
Since the storm, the community has been left without an explanation about service or billing, and although phone booths have been put up, many don’t work, according to residents.

Verizon, however, said it has offered customers free wireless devices for their telephone service. They have also restored service to nearly 6,200 Rockaway customers since the storm. They are working closely with the New York City Housing Authority to fully restore all service.

“Sandy severely damaged Verizon’s network serving all of Rockaway, including [the Ocean Bay Houses]. By the end of this month, we will begin restoring service to all those who live in the complex from 54th to 59th Streets on our brand new state-of-the-art fiber optic network. We are now working with the housing authority to gain access to the apartments from 51st to 53rd Street,” said a Verizon spokesperson.

Gian Jones lives in Bayswater and was without his Verizon FiOS service for about a month. He too continued to receive bills, but snagged a rebate after repeatedly calling the company.

“There might be some technical issues [with service lines] that we don’t know about,” he said. “But it took continuously calling them and fighting them to see a credit. There’s no reason why Rockaway residents should be paying a bill. At the very least, service should be suspended.”

Residents also noted that not only is there a lack of phone service, but Verizon power lines remain hanging from poles to this day.

“You can walk into the hanging wires,” said Felicia Johnson, Rockaway resident and Community Board 14 member.

“Verizon has really just neglected the community at large.”

“If you can send me a bill, why can’t you send me a letter saying, ‘This is where we are, this is what we’re going to do,’” she added.

Richards asks that any resident with phone service problems get in touch with his office.

“Common decency is needed,” he said. “My residents cannot afford to not have phone service for another day.”

 

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More West Nile spraying this week; 2 confirmed cases in Queens


| brennison@queenscourier.com

Photo courtesy of James Gathany/CDC

With two confirmed cases of West Nile virus in Queens, the borough will receive another round of pesticide spraying this week to help control increasing mosquito populations.

Parts of eight Queens neighborhoods will have pesticide applied from trucks beginning Tuesday, August 21 at 8 p.m. and lasting through 6 a.m. the next morning, the Department of Health and Mental Hygiene said.

This is the seventh West Nile spraying in Queens this summer. Seventy pools of standing water have tested positive for the virus in addition to the two confirmed human cases in the borough.

This year has seen the most West Nile cases throughout the country through the first two weeks of August since the disease was first detected in the United States, the Center for Disease Control and Prevention said.

Parts of Arverne, Bayswater, Edgemere, Far Rockaway, Somerville, Cambria Heights, Saint Albans, Springfield Gardens, Baisley Pond Park and Roy Wilkens Park will be sprayed.

The pesticide being used, Anvil 10 + 10, poses no health risks when used properly, but the Health Department recommends that people take the following precautions to minimize direct exposure:

• Whenever possible, stay indoors during spraying. People with asthma or other respiratory conditions are encouraged to stay inside during spraying since direct exposure could worsen these conditions.

• Air conditioners may remain on, however, if you wish to reduce the possibility of indoor exposure to pesticides, set the air conditioner vent to the closed position, or choose the re-circulate function.

• Remove children’s toys, outdoor equipment and clothes from outdoor areas during spraying. If outdoor equipment and toys are exposed to pesticides, wash them with soap and water before using again.

• Wash skin and clothing exposed to pesticides with soap and water. Always wash your produce thoroughly with water before cooking or eating.