Tag Archives: Far Rockaway

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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DNA ties man to 1996 Far Rockaway rape: DA


| ctumola@queenscourier.com

A 47-year-old man has been busted for raping a woman in her Far Rockaway home more than 17 years ago after a DNA hit linked him to the crime, District Attorney Richard Brown said.

Richard Thomas, whose last known address is in the Far Rockaway area, was arraigned Friday on an indictment, charging him with rape and sodomy, according to prosecutors. If convicted, he faces up to 25 years in prison.

The charges came after the District Attorney Cold Case team located evidence from the crime scene that had not been previously tested for DNA, Brown said.

Thomas is accused of entering the victim’s bedroom on the night of July 28, 1996, while her husband slept next to her. Wearing a mask and armed with a gun, he threatened the husband before raping the woman on the floor, according to prosecutors. He then allegedly wiped his genitals on the floor rug and a t-shirt before fleeing.

Semen found on the rug was used to link Thomas to the rape, Brown said.

His office’s DNA Prosecutions Unit has been reviewing every unsolved sexual assault in the borough dating back to 1996, which is as far as the statute of limitations permits.

 

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Sunnyside, Elmhurst buildings sell for $50M


| aaltamirano@queenscourier.com

A Manhattan management group has sold four of its Queens buildings for $50 million, according to The Real Deal.

Urban American sold the multi-family properties in Sunnyside and Elmhurst at 43-31 45th Street, 41-96 Gleane Street, 87-40 Elmhurst Avenue and 87-42 Elmhurst Avenue to Great Neck-based firm Benedict Realty Group (BRG), The Real Deal reported.

BRG already owns about 1,800 units nearby, according to the website.

The publication previously reported Urban American had signed an agreement to sell five multi-family buildings in Far Rockaway for $52 million to E&M Associates.

 

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Leaders vow to save and expand St. John’s Hospital at community forum


| lguerre@queenscourier.com

THE COURIER/Photos by Liam La Guerre

Follow me @liamlaguerre

 

If only one thing could be taken away from the St. John’s Episcopal Hospital forum on March 13, it’s that “St. John’s is not closing.”

The phrase was repeated numerous times by leaders of the hospital during the meet-and-greet event, which featured hospital chair Bishop Lawrence Provenzano, CEO Richard Brown, a representative from the State Department of Health, and Steve Kramer, executive vice president of the hospital’s employees’ union, 1199 SEIU.

State Senator James Sanders put the forum together to allow residents a face-to-face conference with the leaders to answer the community’s concerns about the future of the hospital.

Instead of closing, everyone in the room was focused on how the hospital and health care in the Rockaways would expand.

“My job is to make sure that nobody deviates from the path,” Sanders said. “The bottom line is we are going to save this hospital and we are heading north.”

Brown announced updates on the expansion of the hospital’s emergency department.

The project will cost an estimated $9 – $10 million, and double the size of the emergency department. The construction will be carried out in three phases over nearly two years. The expansion is lengthy because the emergency department will continue to stay open during construction.

Residents, who have complained the department is too small, hope the expansion could happen sooner.

“Yes, it’s terrible,” said Rockaway resident Anita Hunter, who was born in the hospital and whose sister currently works there. “You can barely walk in there. There are so many people lined up outside the examination room.”

Residents also used the forum to hasten the possible merger between the hospital and Catholic Health Services of Long Island, which would allow St. John’s to expand its services and resources.

Brown said the merger was still in the discussion phase. He said metaphorically that St. John’s is “dating” the Long Island organization, but not yet “married” to them.

“What we in this room are looking for is to see St. John’s be a first class hospital,” Kramer said. “We ask you, Bishop and CEO Brown, to make moves as quickly as possible to expedite the merger.”

Perhaps the most exciting statement made at the meeting, though, was Sanders declaring he would like to see the shuttered Peninsula Hospital used as an additional emergency department. The room was immediately filled with cheers.

“I didn’t take this job to lose,” Sanders said. “I didn’t come on to be in charge of the dismantling of health care in the Rockaways. I believe in this place and I believe we can do better.”

 

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Fire breaks out at former Peninsula Hospital


| ctumola@queenscourier.com

File photo

A blaze broke out at the former Peninsula Hospital in Far Rockaway Tuesday afternoon, the FDNY said.

The fire started in an outside boiler at the 51-15 Beach Channel Dr. site about 4:45 p.m. Firefighters were able to put out the blaze in about an hour, the FDNY said.

No one was injured in the fire.

Fire officials said the cause is still under investigation.

The hospital closed in 2012.

 

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Cops looking for suspect who exposed himself to woman at Far Rockaway subway station


| ctumola@queenscourier.com

Video courtesy of NYPD

Police are searching for a man who allegedly exposed and touched himself in front of a 30-year-old woman at a Far Rockaway subway station last month, cops said.

The incident happened about 2 a.m. on Jan. 29 as the victim exited the Beach 25th Street station, authorities said. After exposing himself, he then fled in an unknown direction.

Police describe the suspect as a black male, approximately 5’09″ and 200 pounds. He was wearing a gray jacket and carrying a blue bag.

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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Far Rockaway teen busted for anti-Semitic graffiti at LIRR station


| ctumola@queenscourier.com

Photo courtesy of MTA Long Island Rail Road

A Far Rockaway teen has been arrested for defacing the Cedarhurst Long Island Rail Road station with anti-Semitic graffiti on eight occasions, the MTA said.

Jonathan Schuster, 18, has been charged with felony criminal mischief in the third degree as a hate crime, criminal mischief in the fourth degree and making graffiti, according to MTA police.

A senior at Priority-1:Torah Academy of Lawrence-Cedarhurst, a yeshiva located in the town, Schuster allegedly committed the acts starting in December 2012. He is accused of using a black marker to write anti-Semitic statements, which usually contained expletives, on platform advertising billboards, police said.

His arrest comes after a year-long investigation that included uniformed patrols and surveillance by undercover detectives, according to the MTA. A wanted poster was also issued last month and a reward was offered for any information leading to the perpetrator’s arrest. Tips lead detectives to Schuster who allegedly confessed to the crime, police said.

Since December 2012, there have been 11 incidents in which anti-Semitic graffiti was scrawled on advertisements at three Long Island Rail Road stations in the Five Towns area of Nassau County, including the eight at Cedarhurst station, three at Lawrence station and one at Hewlett station, authorities said.

MTA Police are continuing to investigate the other incidents.

 

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Queens’ Morning Roundup


| ctumola@queenscourier.com

morning roundup

TODAY’S FORECAST 

Thursday: Sunshine and clouds mixed. High 29. Winds NNW at 10 to 15 mph. Thursday night: Some clouds. Low 18. Winds W at 5 to 10 mph.

EVENT OF THE DAY: The Powerful Arts of Cameroon

The Powerful Arts of Cameroon: the Collection of Amadou Njoya is a display of artifacts of the African Tribal Arts Kingdom at the QCC Art Gallery. The potent beauty of celebratory festivals, initiations and other traditional rituals will be conveyed through masterful objects made of wood, metal and terra cotta in the exhibit. Amadou Njoya is a fourth generation Cameroonian born into a family of distinguished artisans and advisors for the royal family of the Kingdom of Bamum. Click here for more info or to submit an event of your own

Far Rockaway mom charged in fatal beating of 2-year-old daughter  

A Far Rockaway mother has been arrested for murder after allegedly beating her 2-year-old daughter to death, District Attorney Richard Brown said Wednesday. Read more: The Queens Courier

Black ice, power outages linger after winter storm slams tri-state

Black ice and power issues are lingering after Wednesday’s winter storm dumped freezing rain and snow on the region, coating roads and sidewalks with a slush that made travel treacherous amid a shortage of salt. Read more: NBC New York

City’s workers paid nearly twice salary of private sector: report

Municipal workers made nearly twice as much as their counterparts in the private sector in former Mayor Michael Bloom­berg’s last years in office — earning a median salary of $65,300 in fiscal year 2012, a new analysis found. Read more: New York Post

Prosecutors: Men sold knockoff handbags online, defrauded customers

Five men were indicted Wednesday, on charges offering real luxury handbags at discounted prices on several websites – but actually presenting consumers with knockoffs, or even with nothing at all. Read more: CBS New York

Warning about explosives smuggled in toothpaste tubes

The Homeland Security Department is warning airlines flying to Russia that terrorists may try to smuggle explosives on board hidden in toothpaste tubes. Read more: AP

Far Rockaway mom charged in fatal beating of 2-year-old daughter


| ctumola@queenscourier.com

handcuffs-with-color-web-size

A Far Rockaway mother has been arrested for murder after allegedly beating her 2-year-old daughter to death, District Attorney Richard Brown said Wednesday.

Ashley Diaz, 28, has been charged with second-degree murder and first-degree assault. If convicted, she faces up to 25 years to life in prison.

On Monday, at about 5:30 p.m., Diaz asked a neighbor to watch her daughter, Kevasia Edward, while she left her Beach 56th Place apartment for approximately 20 minutes to buy food, according to Brown.

While the neighbor was babysitting the toddler, the girl, who had been sleeping, allegedly woke up and appeared slightly pale and lethargic. The child said she was fine, but didn’t show any obvious signs of trauma to her face, the district attorney said.

Later that night, at about 11:15 p.m., Diaz called the neighbor, saying that her daughter was not breathing.  When the neighbor showed up to the apartment she allegedly found the child lying on the floor unresponsive and began to administer CPR. She then allegedly noticed Kevasia’s face was red and bruised, her lip was bleeding and her teeth pushed in and jutting out in different directions and missing, Brown said.

The neighbor’s sister then called 9-1-1, after learning the mother never did. Kevasia was taken to St. John’s Episcopal Hospital, arriving in cardiac arrest and was pronounced dead just after midnight.

According to medical personnel at the hospital, Brown said, Kevasia had old and fresh bruising on her face, legs and torso, two rib fractures and scarring on her right foot consistent with a prior burn. Those injuries, however, were inconsistent with a story Diaz gave about her child having a seizure and falling to the ground.

Diaz allegedly said that her daughter was in good health and acting normal while she was her sole caregiver, from approximately Friday through Monday, with the exception of the time when the neighbor was watching her child.

She also allegedly said that at 9:30 p.m. Monday her daughter had a seizure and fell to the ground, Brown said. During that time, she allegedly admitted she sat with Kevasia for at least 30 minutes while she was unresponsive and not breathing, and did not call anyone for help until after 11 p.m. that night.

According to the autopsy report, Brown said, Kevasia allegedly suffered multiple fresh and old bruising to her face, neck, torso and legs, multiple scalp abrasions and lacerations, multiple scars of varying ages about her body and other markings consistent with trauma. The report’s preliminary medical findings were also consistent with abusive head trauma with multiple, violent impacts to her head and body, he said.

 

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Man serving life for deadly cop shooting sentenced for Queens attempted murder, robbery


| ctumola@queenscourier.com

A man already serving life in prison without parole for fatally shooting a cop was sentenced to 25 years to life Wednesday for trying to rob and murder a Queens man less than 24 hours before shooting the officer, according to District Attorney Richard Brown.

“Today’s sentence ensures that the defendant – a dangerous predator who has been convicted of shooting an unarmed man and an on-duty police officer within 24 hours – will spend the rest of his life in prison and never again see the light of day,” Brown said.

Dexter Bostic, 40, formerly of Far Rockaway allegedly shot the robbery victim, Carl Field, who was 20 at the time, near Sutphin Boulevard and 109th Drive just before 5 a.m. on July 8, 2007, according to Brown. After striking him in the leg, Bostic demanded money from Field, and Field handed over $1,800 in cash, a chain and the keys to his vehicle. Bostic then fled in a vehicle driven by Robert Ellis, 40.

Bostic and Ellis were convicted of second-degree attempted murder, first-degree assault, first-degree robbery, second-degree criminal possession of a weapon and fifth-degree criminal possession.

Ellis was sentenced in July 2013 to a determinate term of 25 years in prison, Brown said. He is currently serving a 15-year prison sentence for a weapons possession conviction involving the July 9, 2007 fatal shooting of NYPD Officer Russel Timoshenko in Brooklyn.

Officers Timoshenko, 23, and Herman Yan, 27, pulled over a stolen BMW SUV in which Ellis, Bostic, and another individual were riding in that day, according to Brown.

The officers were shot at numerous times as they approached the vehicle. One of the weapons used included the gun used to shoot, Brown said. Yan survived, but Timoshenko died five days later.

 

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Police: Suspect shoots at officers during Far Rockaway chase


| ctumola@queenscourier.com

Photo courtesy of NYPD

Updated Saturday, December 28, 10:32 a.m.

A 19-year-old was arrested after he exchanged bullets with officers while they were chasing him in Far Rockaway Friday, police said.

Three plainclothes officers stopped the suspect, William Bazemore, when they saw an unusual bulge in the front pocket of his hooded sweatshirt about 12:30 a.m. at Beach Channel Drive and Nameoke Avenue, according to the NYPD. After approaching Bazemore, he turned and shot at the officers, police said.

The cops returned fire and Bazemore fled northbound on Beach Channel Drive towards Horton Avenue, with two the officers chasing him on foot and one following him by car, the NYPD said.

He was caught a block away after struggling with the officers, and they recovered a .22 caliber Rohm revolver at the scene, cops said.

Bazemore was taken to Jamaica Hospital with minor injuries to his nose where he was treated, according to police.

He has been charged with attempted murder of a police officer, attempted assault, criminal possession of a weapon and reckless endangerment, authorities said.

 

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One dead, one wounded in Far Rockaway shooting


| ctumola@queenscourier.com

A shooting inside a Far Rockaway home Monday left one man dead and another wounded, police said.

Shots rang out about 8 p.m. inside a residence at 211 Beach 31st St, police said. Daniel Fils, 18, was struck once in the chest and a 23-year-old man was shot in the arm.

Fils was taken to St. John’s Hospital where he was pronounced dead, police said.

The second victim was taken to Jamaica Hospital in stable condition.

Police said the investigation is ongoing.

 

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Majority of Queens schools score well on progress reports


| ctumola@queenscourier.com

The majority of Queens schools scored high on the Department of Education’s (DOE) recently released progress reports.

Out of the 62 Queens high schools that were issued 2012-2013 progress reports, 31 earned As, 16 Bs, 6 Cs, 5 Ds and 4 Fs.

The highest scoring institution was Long Island City’s Academy for Careers in Television and Film, which just moved into a new building at the beginning of this school year. It received an overall score of 100.9.

Flushing High School, Pan American International High School in Elmhurst, Frederick Douglass Academy VI High School in Far Rockaway and August Martin High School in Jamaica earned overall failing grades.

Progress reports were issued for 239 Queens elementary and middle schools. Fifty-eight of them earned As, 97 Bs, 74 Cs, nine Ds and only one, Springfield Gardens’ Community Voices Middle School, failed.

Waterside School for Leadership in Rockaway was the highest ranking Queens middle school, with an overall score of 90.3, and P.S. 203 Oakland Gardens was the top-rated elementary school in the borough, with an overall score of 86.5.

Across the city, the DOE found public school performance “remained consistent, with 87 percent of schools maintaining their grade or moving one grade compared to last year.”

The reports are based on students’ progress, performance, attendance and surveys of parents, students and teachers. High school progress reports also measure college and career readiness.

According to the DOE, more students are graduating from high school ready for college and careers.

The reports found that the four-year college readiness rate is up nearly 3 points since last year.

“The most important job of our schools is ensuring students are on track to succeed in college and their careers,” said Schools Chancellor Dennis Walcott. “These results are further evidence that the hard work of our teachers and principals is paying off.”

This year’s school progress reports were the last ones issued during Mayor Michael Bloomberg’s tenure.

They could see some changes when they are issued under the Bill de Blasio administration.

“While Mayor-elect de Blasio supports making overall school progress reports available to parents, he would eliminate letter grades of schools which offer little real insight to parents and are not a reliable indicator of how schools are actually performing,” his spokesperson Lis Smith said.

To find a specific school’s progress report, visit http://schools.nyc.gov/ProgressReport.

 

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Far Rockaway residents call for promised fixes to flooding issues


| mhayes@queenscourier.com

Photo courtesy of the Office of Councilmember Donovan Richards

Far Rockaway residents are flooded with problems, and say they have no life raft.

Bay 32nd Street regularly experiences heavy flooding. In August, those concerned came together with the Department of Design and Construction (DDC) to voice their concerns.

DC representatives in charge of repairs and upgrades explained, in detail, the overall improvement plan and temporary fixes that were to be implemented to alleviate the area’s flooding. However, three months later, those plans have yet to be put into action.

Enid Glabman, president of the Bayswater Civic Association, said responses received from the DDC were “courteous, but always the same.”

“New plans had to be drawn and new money had to be appropriated,” she said.

Glabman added the DDC requested “time – a few days, a few weeks,” but nothing has changed.

“These improvements are essential to the resiliency of Rockaway,” Councilmember Donovan Richards said. “We have to ensure that we are prepared for emergency situations and DDC’s lack of commitment to this project is very concerning.”

The DDC acknowledged that flooding has been a problem in this area “for decades, and we know that residents are anxiously awaiting a remedy,” said an agency spokesperson. Also, DDC engineers determined temporary fixes would be inadequate.

After August’s meeting, the agency changed and improved its design plan, which required more money. Now, they have given the project a green light and said residents will see construction soon.

Offsite, at Dwight Avenue, they have begun work on an outfall – a pipe that will channel floodwater into Jamaica Bay.

On November 8, Richards and community members gathered on Bay 32nd Street to hold the DDC responsible for having yet to begin making improvements.

“This project should have re-started months ago,” said John Gaska, District Manager of Community Board 14. “DDC needs to get its house in order.”

Residents experience extensive flooding during heavy rainfall and even more so during last year’s superstorm.

“Over one year after Sandy damaged our sense of security, we need to feel that our city agencies have not forgotten about our community,” Richards said.

 

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Chelsea Clinton helps with Sandy recovery during ‘Day of Action’ in the Rockaways


| mhayes@queenscourier.com

Photos courtesy of the Clinton Foundation

The Clintons joined the ongoing Sandy recovery in a “Day of Action” in the Rockaways.

Chelsea Clinton and hundreds of volunteers visited Brookville Park, Rockaway Park, P.S. 197 and homes in Far Rockaway on Saturday to revitalize the damaged communities. This is the fifth Day of Action, which has brought in volunteers from all over the country to give back to their own communities.

Clinton also participated in the St. Bernard Project to break ground on the future site of the first “Resilient House.”

The former first daughter joined the home’s future owners, the Lyons family, at the event.

The Resilient House will be designed by Sustainable TO Architecture + Building and is modeled to be energy efficient, cost effective and able to withstand future disasters.

 

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