Tag Archives: Briarwood

PHOTOS: Andrew Harvey Memorial 5K Fun Run held at Archbishop Molloy

By Queens Courier Staff | editorial@queenscourier.com

Photos by Kelly Marie Mancuso


Friends, family members and alumni gathered at Archbishop Molloy High School in Briarwood on Sunday to participate in the school’s annual Andrew Harvey Memorial 5K Fun Run. The race, now in its 28th year, was renamed in honor of Molloy student and athlete Andrew Harvey who lost his life in a tragic accident during his junior year in 1997.

Harvey’s parents, siblings and other family members participated in the 5K race around the school alongside current Molly students, faculty members, alumni and friends. In addition to the big 5K race, other events included a 1-mile race and a “little one’s dash” for young children and families on the school’s track. Religion teacher and guidance counselor Brother Patrick Hogan kicked off the race.


Brother Patrick Hogan signaled the start of the 5K race.

“Andrew was such a nice kid, and the family is a wonderful family,” Hogan said. “He was a good kid and everybody liked him. He was a long distance runner, so this race is the perfect way to honor him.”

Plaques and medals were awarded to the top three male and female winners of the race, as well as the winners in each age group, by track coach, teacher and race coordinator Frank Gambino, followed by a reception in the school auditorium. In addition to the race, the Harvey family also established a scholarship in Andrew’s name.


Briarwood man wins $7 million lottery

| amatua@queenscourier.com

Photo courtesy of the New York State Gaming Commission.

It was all in the numbers for Manuel Moreira who now has one less thing to worry about.

Moreira, a hotel union worker from Briarwood who always uses his and his family’s birthdays to pick numbers for the New York Lottery, claimed the top prize from the Cash4Life drawing that was announced on Aug. 17.

Moreira, who takes a chance on the game frequently, stopped at Concord Drug at 84th Road in Briarwood after work on Aug. 17 to purchase his tickets. However, he didn’t check his numbers until the next morning on the lottery’s website.

“I didn’t believe what I was seeing. I was in a panic. I woke up my wife, and she saw how panicked I was and thought someone had broken into our house,” Moreira said in a statement.

Moreira plans to use his money to take care of his children, grandchildren and family, and possibly start looking for a new house. He chose to receive his prize as a one-time lump sum which nets him $4,361,280.

“At first, I really didn’t believe that I had won $7,000,000. But then when I got to the lottery office and they verified it for me, it started to sink in,” Moreira said. “I’m really still in shock. This really is a dream come true.”


Reward offered to help find suspect who killed rapper Chinx

| rpozarycki@queenscourier.com

THE COURIER/File photo

Detectives continue to look for leads three months after a drive-by shooting in Briarwood left an up-and-coming rap star dead — and now the NYPD is offering a reward to anyone who can help them find the killer.

Through its Crime Stoppers program, police are offering $2,500 for information leading to the arrest and conviction of the suspect(s) responsible for the May 17 murder of Lionel Pickens, 31, of Ozone Park, who went by the stage name Chinx.

Pickens and a 27-year-old male passenger were in a 2014 Porsche stopped at a red light at the corner of Queens Boulevard and 84th Drive at about 4:04 a.m. that morning when an unknown vehicle pulled up. Reportedly, an unidentified individual inside that vehicle then fired multiple shots at the Porsche before speeding away from the scene.

Officers from the 107th Precinct and EMS units found Pickens behind the wheel with multiple gunshot wounds about the body. Pickens was rushed to Jamaica Hospital, where he was pronounced dead. The male passenger sustained a gunshot wound to his back but survived.

Anyone with information is asked to call Crime Stoppers at 800-577-TIPS (8477), visit their website or text their tips to CRIMES (274637), then enter TIP577. All calls and messages are kept confidential.


Jamaica funeral set for rapper slain in Briarwood drive-by shooting

| rpozarycki@queenscourier.com

Photo via Instagram/@chinxmusic

A Jamaica church will host the wake and funeral Tuesday for the rapper Chinx, real name Lionel Pickens, who was murdered in a Briarwood drive-by shooting on May 17.

Family members, friends, relatives and colleagues will gather at the Greater Allen A.M.E. Cathedral, located at 110-31 Merrick Blvd., on May 26 at 11 a.m. for a brief wake, followed by funeral services set to begin at noon.

Pickens, a Rockaway native who resided in Ozone Park, was gunned down while sitting with a friend inside his Porsche at the corner of Queens Boulevard and 84th Avenue at 4:04 a.m. on May 17. According to police, an unidentified gunman pulled up in another vehicle and opened fire, then sped away from the scene.

Shot multiple times about his body, Pickens died later that morning at Jamaica Hospital. His friend, a 27-year-old man, remains hospitalized in critical condition after sustaining a gunshot wound to his back.

As Chinx, Pickens was considered to be an up-and-coming star in the hip-hop world. His career began with a partnership with the late rapper Stack Bundles, but was sidetracked after being sentenced to prison for a robbery conviction in 2005.

While Pickens was incarcerated, Bundles was himself shot to death. According to the NY Daily News, police are reportedly investigating whether the two murders are connected.

After being released from prison in 2008, Pickens relaunched his rap career with French Montana. Chinx gained a following among hip-hop fans following the 2012 release of his single, “I’m a Coke Boy.” He was slated to release an album later this year titled “Welcome to JFK.”


Rapper Chinx murdered in Briarwood drive-by shooting

| rpozarycki@queenscourier.com

Photo via Instagram/@chinxmusic

Updated Monday, May 18, 9:55 a.m.

An up-and-coming rapper from Ozone Park was killed in a drive-by shooting at a Briarwood intersection early Sunday morning, police reported.

Officers from the 107th Precinct, in responding to a 911 call about the shooting, found two victims at the corner of Queens Boulevard and 84th Drive at about 4:04 a.m.

Authorities said 31-year-old Lionel Pickens was shot multiple times about his body. Pickens — a rapper better known by his stage name Chinx — was pronounced dead upon arrival at Jamaica Hospital.

The second victim, a 27-year-old man, was brought to Jamaica Hospital in critical condition after sustaining a gunshot wound to the back.

According to police, Pickens and the other victim were riding in a vehicle at the intersection when an unknown vehicle pulled up. An unidentified shooter in the other vehicle then pulled out a gun and opened fire at the victims before speeding away from the scene.

An investigation is ongoing.

Photo via Instagram/@we_r_legion

Photo via Instagram/@we_r_legion

Pickens grew up in Far Rockaway and was “paving his musical path since an early age,” according to the biography on his website. He got his start in hip-hop with the late rapper Stack Bundles as The Riot Squad.

In 2005, Pickens began a prison sentence after being convicted on robbery and drug possession charges. He was released in 2008, then relaunched his rap career with French Montana.

As Chinx, Pickens gained a following among hip-hop fans with his 2012 release of “I’m a Coke Boy.” He also created a mixtape trilogy, “Cocaine Riot,” featuring many top rap stars.

Reportedly, Pickens was slated to release his latest album, “Welcome to JFK,” later this year.

“Chinx was one of the most talented, professional and determined rappers this industry had to offer,” Chanel Rae, his publicist, said in a statement posted on The Legions Group Instagram account. “Furthermore, he was a friend.”

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


Briarwood station name shortened

| asuriel@queenscourier.com

Photo courtesy of Assemblyman David Weprin

What’s in a name? A lot, according to the MTA and local subway riders.

The subway station formerly dubbed “Briarwood-Van Wyck Boulevard” will now simply be known as “Briarwood” after a name change on Friday. State Senator Tony Avella, Assemblyman David Weprin and Briarwood Community Association President Seymour Schwartz unveiled the renaming outside the station, which is located near the Briarwood library at the intersection of Main Street and Queens Boulevard.

The original name of the station came from its proximity to Van Wyck Boulevard, a thoroughfare later widened and converted into the Van Wyck Expressway. Residents have long campaigned to have the name changed to avoid confusion for newcomers finding their way around the community.

“It took us 14 years, but we did it, and the initiative taken on our behalf by our representatives, Assemblyman David Weprin and state Senator Tony Avella, helped us to reach this terminal goal,” said Schwartz.

“It is about time that the name of this neighborhood’s only train station reflects the people who live here, not a street that once ran through the area,” Avella said.

The station is served by the E and F subway lines and is adjacent to the Van Wyck Expressway, a major thoroughfare running from JFK Airport to Northern Boulevard.


Briarwood teacher to fly with NASA

By Queens Courier Staff | editorial@queenscourier.com



A Briarwood teacher is about to get a closer look at the final frontier.

Melissa Aguirre of J.H.S. 217 will take flight as part of a NASA program committed to exposing educators to the scientific research process.

The Stratospheric Observatory for Infrared Astronomy (SOFIA) Airborne Astronomy Ambassadors program started as a pilot program in 2011 and flies a group of 28 educators on two 10-hour overnight sessions to observe space through the largest airborne telescope.

Aguirre, a Queens native, was chosen for the highly selective program after a rigorous application process, which included a proposal to describe how she would use her experience to educate students in her home district.

Though Aguirre’s background is in history and English as a second language, the program accepts educators from all backgrounds. Aguirre co-founded a charter school in Washington, D.C., called the Latin American Youth Center Career Academy, which prepares returning students ages 16 to 24 to have careers as medical assistants and IT technicians.

Melissa Aguirre 2 (1)

“I was working at a school that has a STEM focus,” Aguirre said. “I really believe that all of us needed to show that interest and that was the primary reason I applied. How do I get young folks interested in these fields, especially women of color … who were the majority of the students I was working with, how do I get them involved in the field when we as educators aren’t involved as well?”

SOFIA’s Airborne Astronomy Ambassadors program was conceived after published research proved that educators who participate in these programs stay in the teaching profession and inspire students to engage with the sciences, according to Director of Education and Public Outreach Dana Backman.

“We’re operating based on published research that educators who get this kind of experience, exposure to science as it’s really done, they’re motivated to stay in the teaching profession because overturn of the teaching profession is a huge problem, especially in the sciences,” Backman said.

Educators selected for the program, which have included museum dossiers and planetarium directors, also have to take a four-month astronomy course from Montana State University before stepping into the plane.

“This course is very challenging but it’s compelling me to think about how I teach,” Aguirre said. “I’m having some of the similar struggles that many of my students have…but then I need to rethink how am I breaking this down for my students and is this working for me now that I am a student as well.”

SOFIA, a Boeing 747SP aircraft, is equipped with a 100-inch, 17-ton telescope and other instruments that allow scientists to gain a deeper understanding of a number of topics including the formation of stars and planets, the Milky Way, planetary science and more.

While on the plane, educators interact with astronomers, airplane technicians, software engineers, bookkeepers and other staff. Backman said this process allows educators to communicate to students that a Ph.D. in astronomy is not necessary to work in and engage with the sciences.

Aguirre is excited to show her students what she has learned through the program and will work with them to discover what they want to learn.

“There will be opportunities to infuse the curriculum with these resources and also develop after-school opportunities for students who are interested in them,” Aguirre said. She also hopes to inspire “students, especially girls who may not see these careers as possibilities, to see that they are possibilities.”


Trio of sites in Briarwood and Oakland Gardens trade hands for $23.7 million

| lguerre@queenscourier.com

Photos courtesy of Cushman & Wakefield

The owner of three commercial sites scattered in Oakland Gardens and Briarwood sold the properties for more than $23.7 million, according to real estate firm Cushman & Wakefield, which handled the transaction.

The deal involves the cluster of properties at 221-02 through 221-50 Horace Harding Expressway, 137-67 to 137-79 Queens Blvd., 138-09 84th Dr., and 138-07 to 138-11 Queens Blvd., which the real estate firm refers to collectively as “The Vanguard Retail Portfolio.”

Together there are 28 units throughout the entire sale with a combined 44,858 square feet of space.

Of the properties, the largest cluster on Horace Harding Expressway in Oakland Gardens has about 33,698 square feet and 18 retail units with some space for parking.

It has up to 53,159 square feet of buildable space, according to the real estate firm. This one cluster was sold for nearly $17 million.

The properties were purchased by a local investor above the asking price, which was $23.1 million in September, according to Cushman & Wakefield.

“We received an abundant amount of interest contributed to by the continued lack of quality assets for sale along with the desirability for larger retail product,” said Stephen Preuss of Cushman, who handled the deal with Brian Sarath and Thomas Donovan.


Fire truck and car collision in Briarwood leaves five injured

By Queens Courier Staff | editorial@queenscourier.com

THE COURIER/Graphic Image

A collision between a fire truck and car in Briarwood on Thursday night left five people, including two firefighters, hurt, the FDNY said.

The two vehicles crashed into each other at Hillside Avenue and Queens Boulevard about 6:30 p.m.

Three people were taken to Jamaica Hospital with serious, but non-life-threatening injuries, fire officials said.

Two firefighters, who suffered minor injuries, were transported to Queens Hospital Center.

The cause of the crash is reportedly under investigation.


10-unit Briarwood building on sale for $2.85 million

| lguerre@queenscourier.com

Photo courtesy of Christopher Bride/PropertyShark

A four-story Briarwood building with 10 apartments at 141-27 84th Dr. has just hit the market, according to GFI Realty Services.

The building features numerous amenities, including hardwood floors, spacious kitchens and storage space. It also has a laundry room.

Owner AKT Properties bought the land in 2007 for just $850,000, city records show. They demolished the detached family house on the site soon after and then filed plans to construct the current building in 2010.

The walk-up apartment building is listing at just $2.85 million. Brokers believe it will be great for investors looking to enter the Queens market because of tax breaks it gets.

“141-27 84th Dr. has a tax abatement, which will limit expenses for over a decade and increase the property’s profitability,” said GFI Realty Associate Director Dan Suissa.



Police searching for suspect who left sneaker behind after trying to rape woman in Briarwood    

| ctumola@queenscourier.com

Photos courtesy of NYPD

Police are hoping a lost shoe will help lead them to a suspect who allegedly tried to rape a woman in Briarwood last week.

The suspect approached the 26-year-old victim on Daniels Street near Hoover Avenue at about 8 p.m. on Sept. 24, threw her to the ground and said that he was going to rape her, according to authorities. The woman then fought back and the suspect fled.

Police have released a sketch of the suspect and a photo of the sneaker he left behind at the site of the attempted rape. He is described as Asian, 5 feet 5 inches tall and 140 pounds.

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


Health Department to treat areas of Queens against West Nile this week

By Queens Courier Staff | editorial@queenscourier.com

Photo courtesy of NYC Department of Health

On Wednesday, Aug. 6 there will be West Nile spraying in parts of Queens to help reduce the mosquito population and the risk of the disease.

The spraying will take place between the hours of 8:30 p.m. and 6 a.m. the next morning. In case of bad weather, the application will be delayed until Thursday, Aug. 7 during the same hours.

The following neighborhoods are being treated due to rising West Nile virus activity with high mosquito populations, according to the city’s Health Department:

Parts of Bayside, Douglaston, Hollis Hill, Little Neck and Oakland Gardens (Bordered by Long Island Rail Road Track to the north; 219th Street and Springfield Boulevard to the west; Long Island Expressway to the south and Douglaston Parkway to the east)

Parts of Blissville, Sunnyside and west Maspeth (Bordered by Green Point Avenue and 48th Avenue to the north; Van Dam Street to the west; Newtown Creek (Queens-King County Boundary) to the South; 49th Street, 56th Road, 50th Street, Queens Midtown Expressway and 49th Street to the East

Parts of Kew Gardens, Briarwood and Jamaica (Bordered by Grand Central Parkway and Jackie Robinson Parkway to north; Metropolitan Avenue and 118th Street to the west; Long Island Rail Road and Archer Avenue to the south; 14th Place, Jamaica Avenue, 144th Street, 87th Avenue and 150th Street to the east)

For the application, the Health Department will spray pesticide from trucks and use a very low concentration of Anvil®, 10 + 10, a synthetic pesticide. When properly used, this product poses no significant risks to human health.

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.



WATCH: 93-year-old Rockaway man pulls pickup truck with teeth for ‘America’s Got Talent’ Judgement Week

| ctumola@queenscourier.com

Photo by Eric Liebowitz/NBC

Rockaway strongman Mike “Mighty Atom Jr.” Greenstein proved on national television that he is still young enough to pull a pickup truck with his teeth, but was it enough to get him to the next round of “America’s Got Talent”?

In his second appearance on the NBC reality competition show Tuesday night, the 93-year-old tugged the approximately 5,000-pound vehicle along with his younger brother in the front seat and judges  judges Heidi Klum, Mel B, Howie Mandel and Howard Stern, and host Nick Cannon in the back.

“I’m here to prove that i’m the world’s greatest strongman—agewise or otherwise,” Greenstein said before performing for the judges.

EMS was standing by in case something happened to Greenstein. Mandel asked him if he was alright after he seemed out of breath following the stunt, but EMS personnel said the second-generation strongman had a good heart rate.

During the show’s season nine premiere on May 27, he used his choppers to pull a 3,500-pound station wagon, with his 84-year-old brother, his brother’s wife and his “lady friend,” inside of it. The feat earned yeses from Klum, Mel B and Mandel, and another audition during Judgement Week.

But Stern turned him down because he felt Greenstein “needed more showmanship.”

That same sentiment may have been felt after his second performance, and on Wednesday’s episode he was not chosen as one of the 47 acts to perform live at Radio City Music Hall.

“It doesn’t disappoint me. I love doing it and I’ll keep on doing it as long as I keep going,” Greenstein said after learning he was cut.

Throughout the Judgement Week auditions, the judges kept expressing that it was a competitive season.

Greenstein was up against several impressive variety acts, some of which made it to live shows, including a man who performs feats of strength, 26-year-old JD Anderson.

If he had gone further in the competition  Greenstein would have liked to have tried to bend iron bars across the bridge of his nose, something he hasn’t done in almost 40 years. But he’s happy to have just honored the legacy of his father, Joseph, the first “Mighty Atom.”

“I got my message across and that was my father’s memory,” he said.

Greenstein was not the only Queens resident to appear on the show this season. Roger “Rogue” Quan, a Briarwood magician who owns Rogue Magic and Funshop in Elmhurst, received four yeses from the judges on the July 1 episode. Though he did not make it onto the Judgement Week episodes and was not selected as one of the finalist for the live shows, Quan is thinking about auditioning for another season.

“I was really disappointed,” Quan said. “I already prepared my next four acts. Maybe I’ll try again next year.”



LIC comedy club founder hosting new Fox stand-up show

| ctumola@queenscourier.com

Photo by Adam Teixeira

A Queens native and founder of a Long Island City comedy club is bringing his years of experience producing laughs to a new show on Fox next month.

Steve Hofstetter, 34, who is in the process of selling the Laughing Devil Comedy Club on Vernon Boulevard to concentrate on his TV endeavor, is the host and executive producer of “Laughs,” a highlight reel show for stand-up comics.

Hofstetter started doing stand-up comedy at 13 years old to impress a girl. Though he failed to get the girl, he found a life-long passion for humor.

After college, he started performing in and producing stand-up shows, eventually making a full-time career out of comedy.

In late 2011, he opened the Laughing Devil Comedy Club when he realized there were no comedy clubs in Queens.

“Why not support the community that you actually live in,” the former Long Island City resident said.

A writing opportunity led him to move to L.A. about a year and half ago, and he and the Laughing Devil’s co-owner decided to put their business up for sale last summer. But Hofstetter ultimately decided to buy out his partner.

With “Laughs” set to premiere for a 13-week test run on August 2, he is now finalizing the club’s sale to the team behind The Stand, a Manhattan comedy club, which has been running Laughing Devil for the past couple of months, he said.

“I can’t imagine a bigger opportunity,” Hofstetter said about the show. “It’s one of those things where you think you’ve made it but you aren’t sure yet.”

Each week, “Laughs” will feature stand-up comics from around the country, compiled from clips sent to the show and showcases set up by comedy clubs. As host, Hofstetter introduces the clips to a live audience at The Laughing Derby in Louisville, Kentucky, one of three comedy clubs of which he is a managing partner, and provides humorous commentary. Each clip will include the comic’s Twitter handle and where to see the person live.

“This is going to be catch-your-breath funny,” Hofstetter said. “We are really going to introduce the world to some great comics.”

To mark the show’s debut, there will be a red-carpet premiere party at the Laugh Factory in L.A.
Hofstetter remembers growing up in Briarwood and watching “Comic Strip Live” on Fox, which was taped live from the Laugh Factory.

“It’s a wonderful way to go full circle,” he said.

“Laughs” will premiere on Saturday, August 2, in select cities, including in New York at midnight on Fox, and Sunday, August 3, on My9 at 11 p.m.




Queens natives start ‘non-touristy’ food tour of borough

| aaltamirano@queenscourier.com

Photo Courtesy of Richard Mumith

The founders of a new walking food tour, which is making its start in Long Island City, are looking to prove that Queens is the “king of the boroughs.”

Queens natives Richard Mumith and Sergey Kadinsky started the company Locals Finds Queens Food Tours to share their love for the diverse borough and bring tourists across the East River.

“We essentially started up for the tourists but now a lot of natives are becoming part of it too,” Mumith said. “We now want Queens locals to really see what is in their backyard.”

The three-hour tours, which began July 13 and take place every Sunday, look to combine the history, culture and food of the borough in what Mumith calls a “non-touristy ‘off the beaten’ experience.”

Every Sunday eight participants, who are told the meeting point after purchasing tickets, get together and sample food from six local Long Island City establishments, while also being given a tour by Kadinsky, who is a licensed tour guide, on the history and present details on the western Queens neighborhood.

The stops of the tour include Manducatis Rustica, Woodbines Craft Kitchen, Sweetleaf, Alobar, Rockaway Brewing Company and Sage General Store.

Mumith said the tours are starting in Long Island City because it is close to Manhattan and also has an “amazing industrial manufacturing history and artistic presence.”

“We’re really here to create a relationship with the communities,” Mumith said.

However, Mumith hopes to expand the tours into full weekends in Long Island City and later move them further into other Queens neighborhood such as Astoria and Flushing.

“We’re here to stay. We’re here to do all the great borough of Queens and each neighborhood presents something unique,” he said.

The Briarwood resident is even challenging the other four boroughs to try and beat the diversity and distinct cuisines offered in Queens.

“What people don’t know, when it comes to the culinary scene, Queens is the king of the boroughs,” Mumith said.

Tickets for the tours are $56 for adults and $42 for children 12 and under. The price of tickets include the tour, which begins every Sunday at 11 a.m., food tastings and an exclusive brochure featuring a map of the neighborhood, list of attractions, other restaurant recommendations and list of things to do.

For more information visit foodsofqueensny.com or call 800-656-0713.