Tag Archives: Elmhurst

Police searching for suspect in deadly Elmhurst stabbing


| ctumola@queenscourier.com

Video courtesy of NYPD

Cops are looking for a man wanted in a fatal Elmhurst stabbing who was caught on surveillance video leaving the murder scene last week.

Mukesh Patel, 50, was found inside the vestibule area of his 83-45 Broadway building at about 3:10 p.m. on Aug. 22 with multiple stab wounds to the chest, authorities said.

Patel was taken to Elmhurst Hospital where he was pronounced dead.

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.

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Man who claimed to be cab driver arrested in attack on mom, kids: cops


| ctumola@queenscourier.com

Sketch and video courtesy of NYPD

Updated 5:55 p.m.

A man posing as a livery cab driver has been arrested in an attack on a mother and her young children after he was caught on video elbowing one of the children and tossing another from his car, officials said.

Pedro Vargas, 48, of Yonkers is currently awaiting arraignment in Queens Criminal Court on charges of assault, endangering the welfare of a child and operating a vehicle for hire without having the proper license, according to the district attorney’s office.

Vargas  is accused of picking up the the 26-year-old victim and her three children, ages 1, 3 and 5, near 207th Street and Post Avenue in Manhattan on Sunday at about 1:50 a.m. Telling the woman that he was a cab driver, he agreed to drive them to 79-00 Queens Blvd., the Pan American Hotel homeless shelter, in Elmhurst, officials said.

After pulling up behind the building, Vargas and the woman got into a dispute, prosecutors said.

According to video footage released by police and the district attorney’s office, the suspect then forcefully tossed the 3-year-old from the vehicle and elbowed the 5-year-old in the head and knocked her to the ground. As the mother struggled with Vargas, her youngest child slipped from her arms and fell onto the sidewalk, prosecutors said. He then got back into his vehicle and as he fled the still open car door struck the 1-year-old.

The children were taken to a local hospital, where they were treated for bruises, swelling and other minor injuries.

Vargas previously served prison time on robbery and kidnapping charges, according to published reports, and was paroled in 2012.

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Video shows suspect who tried to sexually assault woman, attacked kids


| ctumola@queenscourier.com

Video and sketch courtesy of NYPD

Police have released shocking video footage of a driver who tried to sexually assault a woman before attacking her young children in Elmhurst.

Claiming to be a cab driver, the suspect picked up the 26-year-old victim and her three children, ages 1, 3 and 5, at 207th Street in Manhattan on Sunday and agreed to drop them off in Queens, police said.

After stopping behind 79-00 Queens Blvd., the Pan American Hotel homeless shelter, at about 2:45 a.m., the driver attempted to sexually assault the victim while her children were still in the car, according to officials. As the video footage shows, when the woman tried to get out of the vehicle, the suspect elbowed the 5-year-old in the head and tossed the 3-year-old from the car before fleeing.

The children were taken to Elmhurst Hospital with minor injuries.

1746-14 110 Pct-2

Police have also released a sketch of the suspect and describe him as a Hispanic man in his 40s. He was wearing a dark blue sweatsuit with white stripes, had an earring in his right ear and manicured eyebrows, and spoke Spanish.

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.

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Man claiming to be cabbie tried to sexually assault mom with kids in vehicle: cops


| ctumola@queenscourier.com

Sketch courtesy of NYPD

A man claiming to be a cab driver tried to sexually assault a woman in Elmhurst before attacking her young children who were also in the vehicle, police said.

The 26-year-old victim was picked up with her three children, ages 1, 3 and 5, by the suspect at 207th Street in Manhattan on Sunday, officials said. Stating that he was a cab driver, he agreed to drop them off In Queens.

After stopping behind 79-00 Queens Blvd., the Pan American Hotel homeless shelter, at about 2:45 a.m., the driver attempted to sexually assault the victim while her children were still in the car, according to police. When the woman tried to get out of the vehicle, the suspect elbowed the 5-year-old in the head and forcibly removed the 3-year-old from the car before fleeing.

The children were taken to Elmhurst Hospital with minor injuries.

Police describe the suspect as a Hispanic man in his 40s. He was wearing a dark blue sweatsuit with white stripes, had an earring in his right ear and manicured eyebrows, and spoke Spanish.

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.

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West Nile spraying to target areas of Queens this week


| editorial@queenscourier.com

Photo courtesy of NYC Department of Health

On Wednesday, Aug. 27, 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 8:15 p.m. and 6 a.m. the next morning. In case of bad weather, the application will be delayed until Thursday, Aug. 28 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 Auburndale, Murray Hill and Flushing (Bordered by 25th Avenue to the north; Murray Street to the west; 45th Avenue to the south; and 192nd Street, Francis Lewis Boulevard and Utopia Parkway to the east).

Parts of Elmhurst, Forest Hills, Forest Hills Garden, Forest Park, Glendale, Maspeth, Middle Village, Rego Park and Woodhaven (Bordered by 63rd Avenue, 80th Street and Long Island Expressway to the north; eastern boundary of Mt. Olivet Cemetery, Metropolitan Avenue, 73rd Place, Myrtle Avenue and eastern boundaries of Mt. Lebanon and Mt. Hope to west; Park Lane South to the south; and Metropolitan Avenue and Alderton 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.

 

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Suspect wanted in Elmhurst attempted rape: cops


| editorial@queenscourier.com

Photo via Twitter/@NYPD110Pct

Police are looking for the suspect wanted for attempting to rape a 23-year-old woman in Elmhurst.

On Aug. 16 at about 5 a.m. the victim was walking along Gleane Street near Elmhurst Avenue when the suspect grabbed her from behind and punched her in the head, according to cops. The victim fell to the floor and the suspect attempted to grab her while she was down, however she resisted.

The suspect then touched the victim forcibly before fleeing the scene, police said.


The NYPD has released a surveillance video of the suspect.

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.

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Man found stabbed in Elmhurst building


| editorial@queenscourier.com

POLICE TAPE

Updated Tuesday Aug. 26, 11:14 a.m.

A 50-year-old man was found stabbed to death in the front lobby of his Elmhurst building on Friday afternoon, according to police.

The victim, Mukesh Patel, who had multiple stab wounds to the chest, was discovered inside a building located at Broadway near St. James Avenue at about 3:10 p.m., cops said.

He was taken to Elmhurst Hospital where he was pronounced dead.

No arrests have been made.

 

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Protestors demand better housing for Pan American homeless shelter residents


| editorial@queenscourier.com

Photo by Asha Mahadevan

BY ASHA MAHADEVAN

Demands were made and tears were shed Wednesday morning at a protest outside the Pan American Hotel homeless shelter in Elmhurst, but this one was different from other protests of the past few months.

Protestors during the Aug. 20 rally were in support of the shelter’s residents and demanded permanent affordable housing for them.

The organizations Picture The Homeless, DRUM – South Asian Organizing Center and CAAAV Organizing Asian Communities gave the shelter’s residents a platform to air their grievances.

“The main purpose is to ratchet down the feelings between the community and the shelter,” said a Picture The Homeless spokeswoman, who goes by the moniker Ms. K. “We all want the same thing: permanent housing. That is less disruptive for the homeless and for the community.”

She also alleges that the city pays the shelter more than $3,000 per person each month and instead, if they offered the money to the residents as a subsidy toward their rent, many of them would not have become homeless in the first place.

“It is much cheaper than sending them to an area they are not familiar with,” she said.

Christine Napolitano, who lives with her three children in the shelter, agreed, adding that the four of them have to live in one room and eat food that “you won’t even give your dog.”

Napolitano is not allowed to cook in the shelter. Her children are enrolled in schools in the Bronx but her repeated requests to be transferred to a shelter in that borough have been denied.

“We are not bad people because we are homeless,” she said. “We are not here to cause trouble.”

The message seems to be getting through to the community, which for the past few months, have gathered outside the shelter and yelled insults at the residents.

“We are not against the homeless. We just don’t like the way the government is spending taxpayers’ money. If there was more affordable housing, they can get an apartment with a living room and a kitchen for $1,600,” said Irene Chu, an Elmhurst resident for the past 40 years. “Instead, children cannot even do their homework in this room in this shelter. The homeless are really the victims here. They are being abused while someone else makes all the money.”

Elmhurst resident Tom Lai claimed housing the homeless in shelters instead of creating affordable housing was “a bad idea” but he is hopeful that “good sense will prevail.”

Jaime Weisberg, 38, traveled from her home in Astoria to the shelter to offer her support.

“I have been seeing the hatred coming from the community,” she said, referring to the previous protests. “It is appalling. This doesn’t represent Queens. We are better than this.”

The Department of Homeless Services said the shelter offers residents three meals a day, case management, and job and housing counseling, which serve as the foundation for the residents to secure jobs, save money and be able to move to self-sufficiency and permanent housing.

“We are always open to hearing ideas on how to improve our families’ stay in shelters, as we know this is not an easy time for them,” DHS said.

 

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Elmhurst apartment building sells for $21 million


| lguerre@queenscourier.com

Photo courtesy of Massey Knakal

A 103-unit apartment building in Elmhurst sold for $21 million, according to real estate company Massey Knakal, which announced the sale on Thursday.

The six-story building, which is 89,000 square-feet and has 21 indoor parking spaces, is located on the corner of 80th Street and 45th Avenue.

The sale breaks down to approximately $203,883 per unit and $236 per square foot. There are 18 studios, 42 one-bedroom apartments and 43 two-bedroom units in the building. 

Massey Knakal said that the property is ideal for condominium conversion.

 

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Elmhurst Hospital pediatric patients to get Fruit & Vegetable Prescription Program


| aaltamirano@queenscourier.com

THE COURIER/ Photo by Angy Altamirano

A wave of green is coming to Elmhurst Hospital.

Children who are currently patients in the pediatric center at the hospital located at 79-01 Broadway, as well as the patients’ families, will soon be given the option to enroll in the organization Wholesome Wave’s Fruit & Vegetable Prescription Program.

The four-month program, which is expected to begin this month, will provide healthy eating and living assistance to about 100 families with children between 2 and 18 who are identified to be overweight and obese.

During the program, the families will have monthly meetings with hospital staff, including physicians and nutritionists, where they will receive counseling, learn about eating healthy, take part in surveys and also have their health and weight recorded after each month.

The families will also receive vouchers or prescriptions, with values that vary depending on household size, to use in green markets throughout the city. Once visiting the green market, the families will receive health bucks which they can use to purchase fruits and vegetables.

Every Tuesday outside of Elmhurst Hospital, GrowNYC holds the Elmhurst Greenmarket from 8 a.m to 4 p.m.

“We are hoping that doing this will expose the inner city families to fresh produce and what the green markets around the city have to offer,” said Dr. Randi Wasserman, director of pediatrics at Elmhurst Hospital. “We are very committed to making our children safer and healthier. This is just one step.”

Wholesome Wave, which has programs throughout 25 states, began the New York City initiative last year in Harlem and the Bronx, and this year added on Elmhurst Hospital as the first in Queens.

“[The program] shows [patients] they can live in the middle of New York City and still get fresh vegetables,” Wasserman said.

According to Wasserman, this program is only the beginning for the hospital, which hopes to create a healthy lifestyles program and also reach out to the community with other programs.

“It’s part of the bigger picture of our commitment to tackling [obesity] in our population and in the community,” Wasserman said. “We are hoping this will just be the beginning of a number of initiatives.”

 

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Man charged with shooting at cops in Elmhurst


| editorial@queenscourier.com

Photos courtesy of NYPD

Update 4:03 p.m.

A man wanted for shooting at cops in Elmhurst this June was apprehended in New Jersey and charged with attempted murder, officials said.

Christian Mosquera, 20, of Corona, was arraigned in Queens Criminal Court on Wednesday on charges of attempted aggravated murder, attempted murder, criminal possession of a weapon and reckless endangerment, prosecutors said.

A sergeant and police officer, both in uniform and in a marked police car, were responding to a trespassing call around 1:50 a.m. on June 21 when they saw a man chasing another man and firing shots at him at Lamont Avenue and Forley Street, according to police.

The cops jumped from their car and ordered the man to drop the gun, but instead he turned on them, raised the weapon and shot at them, authorities said.

The officers returned fire, but no one was hit in the exchange. When Mosquera fled, he allegedly left behind a .22 caliber pistol.

Shortly after the incident, police offered a $12,000 reward leading to an arrest and conviction, and released a photo of Mosquera, identifying him as a suspect.

According to the district attorney’s office, when Mosquera was apprehended he allegedly told Union City, N.J. officers that “I know this is about that thing in New York. I saw it on the news. I saw my picture in the paper. I wasn’t shooting at police. I shot one or two times at someone else.”

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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.”

 

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Elmhurst community grows garden next to LIRR tracks for over 20 years, agency unaware


| aaltamirano@queenscourier.com

THE COURIER/ Photos by Angy Altamirano

Updated Friday, July 25, 12:20 p.m.

 

Something is growing in the Long Island Railroad’s backyard.

But the MTA said it was unaware of hundreds of feet of community gardens snuggled against the railroad tracks in Elmhurst, mere feet from moving trains and in plain view of commuters looking out from train windows.

Elmhurst residents living down 47th Avenue between 76th and 82nd streets have been keeping the gardens, growing everything from flowers to vegetables for more than 20 years, according to one of the urban farmers, who declined to give his name.

These gardens are found behind the apartment buildings lining the avenue and are cared for by residents of the buildings.

The resident said he has been coming to the gardens to pick vegetables for the past 10 years as he picked a zucchini and hot peppers to bring home.

There is only one entrance to these gardens: through a hole cut through a fence that separates the buildings from the tracks.

Although surrounded by garbage, couches and tire rims, the vegetable and flower gardens are well kept. Residents have developed a path to allow visitors to move around the gardens.

One resident said he sees one or two people come in and out of the gardens every morning.

Community Board 4 said it was not aware of the gardens but that residents in the communities surrounding Elmhurst tend to take vacant plots of land and turn them into something useful, mostly gardens.

When asked about these particular gardens, which are on MTA/LIRR property, an LIRR spokesman said there are no records of any formal authorization given to residents at that location.

According to the spokesman, the MTA has a policy that allows individuals and entities to enter into “year-to-year agreements to maintain gardens on MTA agency property, subject to certain requirements.”

The LIRR instructed The Courier to “have [the gardeners] call our real estate person, John Coyne.”

 

EDITOR’S NOTE: An earlier version of this article incorrectly stated that an MTA spokesman declined to answer questions directly regarding safety.

 

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Families at Pan American homeless shelter reportedly bused to movies during third protest


| editorial@queenscourier.com

THE COURIER/Photo by Angy Altamirano

Residents of the controversial Pan American Hotel homeless shelter were kept away from protestors during another rally against the opening of the site, according to a published report.

About 550 residents gathered Tuesday to hold another protest in front of the hotel located on Queens Boulevard and prior to the rally, the Department of Homeless Services arranged to have 230 children and adults from the shelter bused to the movies, DNAinfo reported.

The residents were taken to see “How to Train Your Dragon 2” paid for by the agency at a theater in Jamaica in order to remove the children from any hatred that “potentially could be exhibited” during the July 22 rally, according to DNAinfo.

Last night’s rally is the third held by residents opposing the shelter which currently houses more than 180 families. The community has said that the hotel was turned into the shelter, by nonprofit Samaritan Village, without residents and elected officials being given prior notice.

The last protest, which coincided with Community Board 4’s meeting with the DHS and residents, was filled with hundreds of protestors shouting criticisms back and forth with shelter residents.

Two weeks ago, just a neighborhood away, DHS approved the conversion of the 121-room Westway Motor Inn in East Elmhurst into a permanent homeless shelter as well.

Community members and elected officials in that area also say they were not told or asked about the decision.

The hotel previously was used as an emergency overnight site for homeless families, but two years ago the DHS has said it would not turn the motel into a permanent homeless shelter.

An emergency town hall meeting and public protest against the East Elmhurst homeless shelter is scheduled for Wednesday at 6:30 p.m. at the Museum of the Moving Image in Astoria.

 

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Stringer criticizes DHS for handling of homeless shelter placement process


| aaltamirano@queenscourier.com

Photos by Salvatore Licata

Amid ongoing controversy over several Queens homeless shelters, the city comptroller has said the Department of Homeless Services (DHS) is “failing” in the way it deals with homelessness throughout the five boroughs.

In a letter to DHS Commissioner Gilbert Taylor, City Comptroller Scott Stringer addressed the ongoing “homelessness crisis, particularly among families” in New York City. He noted that there are different causes that contribute to the rise, however the “current playbook” in dealing with the issue needs to be changed.

“Especially concerning to my office is the emergency contracting approach that the Department of Homeless Services has employed to site new facilities in neighborhoods with minimal community consultation,” Stringer wrote in the letter on Thursday.

In one case, Glendale residents have been fighting for more than two years to stop an abandoned manufacturing plant from becoming a homeless shelter. The community complained that they were given little to no notice about the shelter.

“DHS must begin to immediately repair its relationships with local communities by creating a robust consultative process with community stakeholders for all of its currently planned sites and for those proposed in the future,” Stringer wrote. “This process should allow for meaningful input from local stakeholders, advocacy groups, and elected officials.”

In the past month, two western Queens neighborhoods have also had to deal with unannounced homeless shelters being moved into two hotels.

Hundreds of protestors spoke against the city’s initiative to house homeless families at the Pan American Hotel on Queens Boulevard in Elmhurst without asking for any input from the community.

Last week, the DHS approved the conversion of the Westway Motor Inn on Astoria Boulevard into a shelter housing over 100 families. Residents and elected officials are outraged the agency let them know about the shelter just a day before the families began moving into it.

“If DHS continues to neglect communities until after emergency contracting decisions have been made it will neither benefit from local knowledge of the area nor engender harmonious integration with the surrounding communities,” Stringer wrote.

 

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