Tag Archives: heroes

Celebrity paintball tournament benefits inner-city kids

By Queens Courier Staff | editorial@queenscourier.com


Charity and competition were one and the same at the Fourth Annual Moving Mountains Celebrity Paintball Tournament.

The Monday, June 3 event raised money for Moving Mountains, a charity founded by Brooklyn native Jamie Hector, star of television shows including “The Wire” and “Heroes.”

The non-profit organization, which launched in 2008, aims to help inner-city children find their artistic voice through film or stage acting.

“The aim of the organization is to show children that, with faith, you can move any mountain,” Hector said. “Moving Mountains teaches youth to build on their skills, talents and abilities with character. Ultimately, we want to help them find success in acting so they can return and give back to their communities.”

So why paintball?

“We really wanted to do something fun,” he said. “Fundraisers are often suit and tie events, but this is the fourth year we have been doing a paintball tournament and it’s just plain fun.”

The tournament was held at Indoor Extreme Sports in Long Island City. Along with a 10,000-square-foot paintball course, it offers laser tag and archery tag.

The facility is run by Peter and Michele Formoselle, who recently added a simulated zombie survival scenario on Friday nights to their list of services.

“All the proceeds from the tournament go towards Moving Mountains,” said Peter Formoselle. “We don’t advertise it, but the tournament still draws about 20 teams with more than 100 participants.”

Along with Hector, celebrities at the event included “Wire” castmates Felicia Pearson, Isiah Whitlock Jr. and J.D. Williams, among other actors.

Moving Mountains will host its third annual Honors Benefit on June 11 at the Hasted Kraeutler Gallery in Manhattan. This year, honorees include Harlem Children’s Zone president and CEO Geoffrey Canada and Hall of Fame football player Curtis Martin along with musician and actor Bryan Greenberg.



Sandy also leaves heroes in her wake

| MKirk@queenscourier.com

Marcel left, Spillino rightw

Late last Monday night and into early Tuesday morning, waters were rising as Howard Beach was bearing the brunt of Hurricane Sandy. Sergeant Paul Jonathan “PJ” Marcel of the Forest Hills Volunteer Ambulance Corps, along with his friend Frank Spallino, a former marine, pulled up to a rapidly flooding home in Marcel’s monstrous A.M. General M35 2 ½ ton decommissioned military cargo truck.

As Spallino backed into the driveway, he had to ram two cars out of the way in order to get as close as possible.

“Your ride’s here, sorry I’m late!” Marcel said as he helped a mother and her two children aboard.

“Is that everyone?” he then asked. “Any pets?”

“My bird, Snowy!” the daughter screamed.

With that, Marcel jumped out of the truck and back into the house where he found the birdcage, grabbed it and made it back right as the water started rushing halfway up his legs.

These were just three of the over 120 people Marcel and Spallino helped rescue during Sandy. They braved exploding transformers and floating vehicles in order to get Howard Beach residents to safety, charging through the rising waters in Marcel’s truck, which he fondly calls the “deuce-and-a-half,” or just “the deuce.”

“This truck can go through anything,” Marcel said, adding that the tires stand over four feet tall.

Marcel and Spallino met with members of New York City fire, police and ambulance services, who had mobilized in the area of Cohancy Street between 157th and 158th Avenue at around 9 p.m. last Monday night. From there, they went out on rescue missions that included tending to people stranded in their homes and retrieving EMTs whose ambulances had been submerged.

Each outing was hardly ever without someone flagging them down, asking for assistance with their own stranded families or a phone call from a friend asking for assistance in the area as well. Marcel said the truck was capable of fitting around 15 people at a time, not to mention all of the pets they rescued as well.

Between each run, Spallino would monitor the rapidly deteriorating state of the truck’s mechanics. All of the water was posing a threat to the truck’s electrical system. On top of that, the tires were losing air pressure.

At one point, members of FDNY approached Marcel and told them about a house fire on 95th Street between 157th and 158th Avenue. Waters were too high for fire department vehicles to drive through, so they asked the men if they could transport firefighters to the scene.

“At this point, we both knew in each others’ eyes that the truck might not run, that we might get stuck out there,” Marcel said. “But we grabbed the firefighters and we went.”

Soon they arrived at the house, which was “completely engulfed in flames,” as Marcel said. Spallino backed up the truck as close to the house as he could and firefighters ultimately had to use a raft to get the 10 people, including a newborn child, safely to the truck.

“The look on their faces was just fear,” Marcel said, describing the reactions of many of the people they rescued. After the storm had subsided, he went out to visit many of them, where he was met with firm handshakes, tight embraces and teary-eyed expressions of thanks.

Even after the hurricane was over and the flood waters had receded, Marcel continued to help by using his pickup to haul cars out of the middle of streets so emergency vehicles could get through. He and his wife Daniela brought water and other supplies to Hamilton Beach residents and ran tanks of gas to people living off of generators. He used his own generator to establish a charging station at his house, where he is without power himself, allowing his neighbors to charge their electronic devices.

Marcel and Spallino’s acts have caught the attention of the national media as well. They sat down for an interview on Anderson Cooper’s “Anderson Live,” last Thursday and will return to the show on Thursday, November 8. He is also scheduled to appear on Headline News’ “Dr. Drew” tomorrow. Marcel has also since auditioned for TNT’s upcoming new series “The Hero,” which will be hosted by Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson.

Marcel says the cargo truck he and Spallino used throughout the hurricane is now barely operational. On top of this, he lost seven other vehicles and took substantial damage to two of his massive storage containers. He continues to live without power, surviving only on the generator that sits out on his deck. Even with all these things out of service, Marcel remains ready, regularly posting on his Facebook for people to reach out to him if they need any further help.

Con Ed crew foils robbery

| smosco@queenscourier.com

THE COURIER/Photo by Steve Mosco

A routine gas inspection turned into a harrowing chase as four Con Edison employees rushed to the aid of the victim of a violent purse snatching in Bayside on the night of January 25.

The Con Edison crew — John Kane, John McDonnell, Michael Santeramo and Anthony Farmighetti — were working on a gas line just off Northern Boulevard when they heard the screams of a young woman on 201st Street and 42nd Avenue. When they rushed to the scene, they saw the victim on the ground, bleeding from the mouth.

The crew approached the suspect and that is when the incident escalated. The man pointed a gun at the workers and told them to step back; the suspect then ran off with the crew in hot pursuit. With total disregard for their own personal safety, the four-man team chased the suspect through a neighborhood backyard.

“We heard screaming and saw bags scattered all over the ground,” said Santeramo, 27, a Con Edison worker for five years. “We ran up to her [the victim] and she was bleeding from the mouth.”

McDonnell, 29, said that he and his fellow workers just did what anyone would do in a situation like that — explaining that when someone is in danger, the right thing to do is help the person without thinking twice.

“We ran right there, you know,” said McDonnell, describing scene. “You hear something like that happen and you just run right there. You just go right into mode, you want to help somebody.”

Despite their heroic efforts, the determined crew lost the perpetrator. The workers returned to the victim, a 24-year-old woman, and stayed with her until police responded to the scene.

“She was very grateful that we helped her out and she was very thankful that we stopped the altercation,” Kane said of the woman, whose identity was not released.

After the incident, the crew went back to work and finished their shift. The next day, Santeramo and McDonnell went to work as if nothing happened at all.

“We came in the next day and didn’t think twice about it,” said McDonnell, who has been with Con Edison for seven years. “We were called upstairs and we thought we were in trouble.”

But Con Ed officials, proud of the men’s heroism, simply wanted to thank them and let people know their brave story.

No arrests have been made in the incident, and police describe the suspect as a black male.

Queens killer who tore out woman’s heart and lungs gets sentenced up to 29 years

| jlane@queenscourier.com

Graphic by Jay Lane

Queens killer who tore out woman’s heart and lungs gets sentenced up to 29 years

A depraved killer who beat and choked a Queens woman to death before carving out her heart and lungs was sentenced to up to 29 years in prison Wednesday. Huang Chen, dressed in a lime-green jail jumpsuit, turned down Queens Supreme Court Justice Richard Buchter when asked if he had anything to say. Buchter wasn’t as reticent.The judge faulted the justice system for failing to protect Qian Wu, 46, after she took out six restraining orders against Chen, following repeated episodes of harassment. Read More: Daily News

Safe Space in Jamaica to expand services for LGBT youth in southeast Queens

A safe haven for hundreds of lesbian and gay youth in Queens will reach more students thanks to a new grant. Safe Space NYC, a nonprofit group that works with southeast Queens youth, is adding two new full-time staff members and expanding its clinical services for LGBT youth with support from a one-year grant of $120,000. “LGBT young people are in this community and they need community support,” said Cassie Aguilera, an outreach coordinator for Safe Space. “They come here because they feel they can be themselves.” The financial boost comes from the New York Community Trust, which has helped fund the Safe Space for decades. The grant supports a new youth specialist and a new social worker. Read More: Daily News

Suspects sought for a dozen robberies in Long Island City

Police are seeking a man and woman wanted in connection with 12 robberies — 11 of which have occurred over the past month. Most of the incidents have occurred between the morning and evening — during school and work hours — with the thieves entering through a window or door. Read More: Queens Courier

Hail, yea! Pols reach deal to bring street hails to outer boroughs

After months of negotiations and gridlock, the street hail bill finally received the green light. Governor Andrew Cuomo announced on Tuesday, December 20 an agreement had been reached to bring street hails to all five boroughs. The deal came just one day before the Wednesday, December 21 deadline. Read More: Queens Courier

NY man charged with attempted murder of NYPD cops

A New York City man suspected of firing at two police officers while wearing a disguise has been charged with attempted murder. Queens District Attorney Richard Brown says 53-year-old Antonio Olmeda opened fire on two patrolmen as they tried to question him on December 2. They were uninjured. Prosecutors say Olmeda was wearing a trench coat, fedora, fake beard and glasses at the time. He refused to take his hands out of his pockets when asked by officers, and instead pulled out a gun and fired twice. He fled, shedding his disguise. Read More: Wall Street Journal

Former Congressman Anthony Weiner’s wife gives birth to baby boy

After a year filled with ridicule and scandal, disgraced former Congressmember Anthony Weiner finally has something he can feel proud about — a new baby boy. Weiner’s wife, Huma Abedin, gave birth to the wee Democrat yesterday, 10 days before the New Year’s Eve due date, The Post has learned. Jordan Zane Weiner checked in at just over 7 pounds, a source said. The Post first reported in September that the couple was having a boy, months after Weiner’s political career crashed and burned in an embarrassing sexting scandal that forced him to resign from Congress. Read More: New York Post

Korean NYers Say Leader’s Death Presents New Worries, Hope

As news of Kim Jong Il’s death continues to spread, all eyes in New York’s Korean-American community are fixed on the peninsula. Read More & Watch the Video: NY1

Heroes back in New York City

They’ve traded Baghdad for Bayside. A cheery and teary group of reserve soldiers finally made it back to New York yesterday, ending their service in Iraq safe and sound. “I’ve been away for almost a year, and I’m so excited to be back with my family for Christmas and New Year’s,” said Sgt. Waseefa Baksh, 22, of Queens. “We were in Bahgdad for 11 months,” said Baksh, as she and other members of the 316th Sustainment Command were discharged at Fort Totten in Bayside. Read More: New York Post