Police are seeking three men in the burglaries of more than a dozen businesses around the city, including 12 in Queens, where as much as $10,500 in cash was taken during one theft, authorities said.
According to police, the suspects typically break into the businesses by clipping the lock on their front entrance roll gates.
The series of burglaries and several attempted thefts include at least 17 locations across Queens, Brooklyn and Manhattan, dating from January to April of this year:
On Jan. 22, at about 4:52 a.m., the suspect(s) entered Good Market, located at 61-05 39th Ave. in Woodside, and removed 25 cartons of Marlboro cigarettes, $300 in cash and a safe containing $4,000.
Between 11 p.m. on Saturday, Feb. 7, and 10 a.m. on Feb. 8, the suspect(s) entered Cigar Hookah Inc., located at 65 West 14th St. in Manhattan, and removed $6,526 in cash.
On Feb. 15, 2015, between 4:11 and 4:30 a.m., the suspect(s) entered Ping’s Restaurant, located at 83-02 Queens Blvd. in Elmhurst, by clipping the lock for the side door roll-down gate but fled without taking anything.
On March 1, at about 2:30 a.m. the suspect(s) entered Homecrest Pharmacy, located at 1826 Gravesneck Rd. in Brooklyn, and removed $100 in cash.
On March 1, at about 4:17 a.m., the suspect(s) entered Taran Grocery, located at 43-10 45th Ave. in Sunnyside, and removed $1,000 in cash.
On March 2, at about 2:30 a.m., the suspect(s) entered the Deep Trading Corporation, located at 29-10A 30th Ave. in Astoria, and removed $10,574 in cash from the safe.
On March 5, between 4:50 and 5:10 a.m., the suspect(s) entered a Saba Deli located at 232 Underhill Ave. in Brooklyn, and removed $80 in cash.
On March 5, at about 5:40 a.m., the suspect(s) entered Kingston Pharmacy, located at 1106 Saint Johns Pl. in Brooklyn, and removed a safe containing $6,000 in cash.
Between 5 a.m. on March 9 and 10 a.m. on March 10, the suspect(s) entered Sharp Rite, located at 1682 East 13 St. in Brooklyn, and removed an empty safe which was later recovered in the vicinity of the location.
Between 2 and 8:30 a.m. on March 10, the suspect(s) entered Lake Pavilion, located at 60-15 Main St. in Flushing, through the rear basement door, and removed $600 in cash and multiple checks.
On March 13, at about 5:50 a.m., the suspect(s) entered Franny Lew Wine and Liquor, located at 198-29 Horace Harding Expwy. in Fresh Meadows, by prying open the front door but fled without any goods.
Between 11:45 p.m. on March 13 and 11 a.m. on March 14, the suspect(s) entered New Great Wall, located at 69-13 Woodside Ave. in Woodside, and removed $100 in cash.
Between 1 and 8 a.m. on March 14, the suspect(s) entered a restaurant, located at 192-20 Northern Blvd. in Flushing, by breaking the front door but fled without any goods.
Between 5:05 and 5:20 a.m. on March 14, the suspect(s) entered Sushi Fusion and Grill, located at 105-43 64th Rd. in Forest Hills, and removed $520 in cash.
Between 5:05 and 5:20 a.m. on March 14, the suspect(s) entered Super Glatt Kosher Mini Market, located at 105-45 64th Rd. in Forest Hills, and removed $250 in cash.
On March 17, at about 3:30 a.m., the suspect(s) entered Elmhurst Pharmacy, located at 81-06 Baxter Ave. in Elmhurst, by prying opening the front door and removed $100 in cash.
On April 1, at about 2:50 a.m., the suspect(s) entered N&K Jmart, located at 79-23 Northern Blvd. in East Elmhurst and removed $5,500 in cash.
Authorities have released a photo of one the suspects from the March 13 burglary at the New Great Wall restaurant located at 69-13 Woodside Ave. in Woodside.
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.
A pair of NYPD detectives spent around two hours Monday talking a suicidal woman off the edge of the Kosciuszko Bridge, according to police.
That morning, police arrived about 11:30 a.m. to find the 45-year-old Brooklyn resident on top of a pipe on the outside of the bridge, which connects Greenpoint, Brooklyn, with Queens.
Two detectives—Meghan Kinsella, a 14-year veteran who works as a domestic violence officer, and Steven Stefanakos, a 24-year veteran who has spent 20 of those years with the Emergency Service Unit—moved into action to try to talk the woman out of taking her life.
At first, according to police, the woman wasn’t responsive to either of the detectives as they took turns engaging her in conversation.
“I tried to convince her that no matter what, we would be with her every step of the way,” Kinsella said. “He would talk and I would talk. I didn’t even realize I was there for two hours. I was completely focused on her.”
When Stefanakos, who is an instructor with the NYPD’s Emergency Service Unit and teaches officers how to interact with emotionally disturbed people in crisis, mentioned the possibility of the woman having a family or children, she grabbed back onto the wire, authorities said.
“I told her, ‘I don’t know what is going on and what is happening with you, but give us [a] chance to talk to you,’” he said.
Kinsella also told the woman, who is a mother of one, that she was strong enough to get through the situation, and the detectives were finally able to convince her to come off the edge of the bridge.
As video footage of the rescue released by police shows, officers were able to pull the woman to safety, and EMS took her to Elmhurst Hospital for treatment.
“It’s a huge relief. It actually is euphoric because you made a difference in somebody’s life, right there and then,” Stefanakos said.
“I’m a mom so I just wanted to get her home safe with her family,” Kinsella added.
Federal agents arrested two Jamaica women Thursday for plotting to carry out a terrorist attack on American soil, officials said.
Noelle Velentzas, 28, of Inwood Avenue and Asia Siddiqui (the latter also known as Najma Samaa and Murdiyyah), 31, of 84th Road, who were former roommates, were taken into custody Thursday morning as a result of an investigation dating back to May 2013. They are U.S. citizens and, up until recently, shared an apartment at an unspecified Queens location.
According to the Joint Terrorism Task Force, Velentzas and Siddiqui allegedly shared “violent jihadist beliefs,” openly sympathized with known terrorists, made contact with al-Qaida in the Arabian Peninsula (AQAP) and expressed a desire to launch an attack of their own in the U.S.
They reportedly educated themselves on bomb-making and visited local stores to purchase or research materials typically used to construct explosive devices.
Upon her arrest, Siddiqui had in her possession numerous propane tanks and instructions for converting them into explosive devices, federal sources said. Those instructions were reportedly downloaded from an online jihadist publication.
Their plot was foiled, however, through the efforts of an undercover federal agent, who obtained information from them through numerous meetings and conversations over the last two years.
“We are committed to doing everything in our ability to detect, disrupt and deter attacks by homegrown violent extremists,” U.S. Attorney for the Eastern District of New York Loretta E. Lynch said in a statement. “As alleged, the defendants in this case carefully studied how to construct an explosive device to launch an attack on the homeland. We remain firm in our resolve to hold accountable anyone who would seek to terrorize the American people, whether by traveling abroad to commit attacks overseas or by plotting here at home.”
Law enforcement sources said Siddiqui’s alleged terrorism ties date back to 2006, when she became close with Samir Khan, who later became a prominent figure in AQAP. Khan left the U.S. for Yemen following his relationship with Siddiqui and wrote propaganda magazines and bomb-making manuals for terrorists.
In September 2011, Siddiqui allegedly sent a sympathetic letter to Mohammad Mohamud, who was in federal prison for plotting to bomb a Christmas tree lighting ceremony in Portland, Oregon, in 2010, authorities said.
Federal authorities intercepted the letter, which had the return address listed as “Najma Samaa” from 94-20 Guy R. Brewer Blvd. in Jamaica — the actual address of York College, from where Siddiqui graduated.
Velentzas, in meeting with the undercover operative in 2013, praised the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks and praised its mastermind, Osama bin Laden, as her hero. To illustrate that point, she showed the agent her cellphone, which had as its background image a picture of bin Laden carrying an AK-47 machine gun.
Following the Boston Marathon bombings in 2013 — in which two terrorists converted pressure cookers into deadly explosive devices — Velentzas reportedly became obsessed with using pressure cookers as weapons.
FBI agents interviewed Siddiqui at LaGuardia Airport in July 2014, during which she denied having any connection to terrorists. After being allowed to leave, she reportedly told the undercover agent that she believed the agency was onto her and that she must delete incriminating “stuff” from her email accounts.
Between August 2014 and this February, Velentzas and Siddiqui allegedly continued talking about previous terrorist attacks —such as the Oklahoma City bombing in 1995, in which a fertilizer bomb in a truck was used to destroy the Alfred P. Murrah Federal Building — and researching bomb-making skills. They visited a local Home Depot and other stores and browsed through or purchased items known to be bomb-making components.
According to federal agents, in discussing specific, high-profile targets Velentzas mentioned in December 2014 potentially striking a police funeral, considering that the funeral that month for Detective Rafael Ramos in Glendale drew 25,000 mourners.
Velentzas and Siddiqui, who were ordered held without bail during their arraignment Thursday afternoon, were charged with conspiracy to use a weapon of mass destruction against persons or property in the U.S. and face life in prison if convicted.
Imitation is not always the sincerest form of flattery.
A group of Ridgewood residents had mixed feelings as they gathered at a local bar to watch the premiere of “Weird Loners,” a new Fox comedy that uses the area as the inspiration for the show’s setting.
“The group [that lives in the] house in the show represents the patrons of the bar,” said Steven Lewis, co-owner of Queens Tavern, who, with Sarah Feldman from Ridgewood Social, had the idea to hold a screening party at the bar. “There has never been a show centered in Ridgewood on TV. The show was better than I thought it would be.”
“Weird Loners” centers on four relationship-challenged 30-somethings who unexpectedly end up in each other’s lives and start bonding while living next door to each other in a Queens townhouse.
According to creator and executive producer Michael J. Weithorn, the setting is based on Ridgewood, though the show’s current scripts don’t directly mention the area. There are future plans, however, to more directly feature the neighborhood in the sitcom.
Becki Newton as Caryn, Zachary Knighton as Stosh, Meera Rohit Kumbhani as Zara and Nate Torrence as Eric (Michael Becker/FOX/Copyright 2014 FOX Broadcasting)
About 25 to 30 people came out to the Queens Tavern Tuesday night to check out the show’s 9:30 p.m. debut and share their opinions, with the bar handing out noisemakers to the crowd so they could jeer at any mention of the borough.
During the fun and sarcastic mood of the evening, the crowd booed at the large living room of Becki Newton’s character Caryn and the exterior shots of the neighborhood. Weithorn had the set designer research Ridgewood’s old buildings, but the show was shot in Los Angeles.
“The show was corny,” said Morgan Pielli, who has lived in Ridgewood for two and a half years. “I thought it represented Ridgewood terribly. The set looked nothing like it.”
Liz Babish, who has also resided in Ridgewood for around two years and hails from New Jersey, was more optimistic about “Weird Loners” as a comedy, but said it wasn’t a reflection of her area.
“It has potential,” she said. “The show has a ‘New Girl’ vibe. Ridgewood was not represented at all.”
Babish was right about the “New Girl” feel — Jake Kasdan, an executive producer for the Zooey Deschanel series, is also an executive producer for “Weird Loners,” and even directed the pilot.
Attendees overall had positive reactions to the entertainment value of the first episode, which lays out how the four main characters — Caryn (Becki Newton), Stosh (Zachary Knighton), Zara (Meera Rohit Kumbhani) and Eric (Nate Torrence) meet and end up living adjacent to each other in Queens. The final scene finds the foursome mocking and then crashing a nighttime wedding in Flushing Meadows Corona Park.
But they felt the comedy featured little of Ridgewood, and what it did portray wasn’t an accurate depiction.
“It didn’t show anything of Ridgewood. I hope it gets more street views of Ridgewood,” said Timothy Bakth, who has lived in Ridgewood for all 31 years of his life. “Being from Ridgewood my entire life, I wish they would have taken a look at Ridgewood 10 years ago; many things have changed.”
Queens Tavern is holding another viewing party next week, on April 7 at 9 p.m. “Weird Loners” airs Tuesdays at 9:30 p.m. on Fox.
The neighborhood that inspired the backdrop of a new Fox comedy will be holding a viewing party at a local bar for its premiere that is likely to be filled with more jeers than cheers.
“Weird Loners” is about four relationship-challenged 30-somethings who unexpectedly end up in each other’s lives and start bonding while living next door to each other.
Creator and executive producer Michael J. Weithorn, who also co-created “The King of Queens,” decided to use Ridgewood as the setting for the show.
He had the set designer research the old buildings of the neighborhood for the Los Angeles-shot show, and used a Polish delicatessen he visited in the area as a child for the inspiration for the background of two of the characters.
But these attempts to replicate Ridgewood don’t seem to be sitting well with some of its own who are planning on attending a party to watch its depiction on the small screen.
Grab a beer and uncomfortably watch the first episode at Queens Tavern on their full screen! Be in awe of how large their indoor apartment is! Then ask yourself… “if that is considered weird by mainstream standards… what am I?” Make bets with your fellow friends on how long until this show gets cancelled!
P.S. The word “Quooklyn” is banned from the party.
If the show does get the ax early on, locals won’t need to worry about any direct references to Ridgewood.
According to Weithorn the show’s current scripts don’t directly mention the neighborhood so far, but there are future plans to feature it more prominently in the comedy.
One filmmaker is turning to Kickstarter and the Queens community she grew up in to help put the finishing touches on what will be known as the late Dennis Hopper’s last movie, filmed completely in the “World’s Borough.”
Linda Yellen is one of the creative minds behind the comedy “The Last Film Festival,” which began filming in 2009 with a cast including Hopper, known for the classic film “Easy Rider,” Golden Globe-winner Jacqueline Bisset, JoBeth Williams, Chris Kattan, Donnell Rawlings, Katrina Bowden, Joseph Cross and Leelee Sobieski.
The film, written by Yellen and Michael Leeds, follows a Hollywood producer, played by Hopper, whose recent film was rejected by every film festival except a small town festival named the O’Hi Film Festival.
Although the movie surrounds a small town, it was actually filmed in Queens, some parts in Astoria and others in Forest Hills, the neighborhood Yellen grew up in.
“I loved growing up in Queens. It was so accessible to Manhattan but it also had the feeling of small town and community. It was always so friendly,” Yellen said. “It was a wonderful thing to sort of return home.”
The majority of the film was shot in Forest Hills, with scenes taking place at Forest Hills High School, where Yellen attended school. During the 2009 spring break, the actors were housed in the high school classrooms, which replaced the use of dressing rooms and trailers.
“There was always a great appreciation for the arts and culture in Forest Hills,” Yellen said. “I learned about the art of filming and directing in Forest Hills.”
The cast of “The Last Film Festival.”
Although Yellen no longer lives in the borough, she said she is constantly traveling back to visit her mother, who still lives in the same building Yellen grew up in and who had a small part in the film as a “biker chick.”
During the filming, Yellen recalls walking the streets of Forest Hills during lunch with Hopper, who would take pictures of everywhere he went in the borough.
“A lot of those early experiences helped shape my identity and it gave a special pleasure to Dennis Hopper. He got to learn a lot about me as we took a lot of those walks,” Yellen said. “He loved [Queens].”
Tragedy then struck when, just a few scenes short of finishing the film, Hopper became ill and later died of cancer at the age of 74 in May of 2010.
“He was a picture of health and vitality and he just gives a multilevel comedic act [in the film],” Yellen said. “He had no idea he was sick; we had no idea he was sick.”
Hopper’s passing left a hole in the hearts of the cast and crew, and the film was set aside for a while until Yellen decided to pick it back up this year, which will mark the fifth anniversary of Hopper’s death.
However, in order to finish the film, Yellen made the decision to turn to Kickstarter, with a goal of $90,000, because she felt it was a way to get to the fans directly. The crowdfunding site also followed Hopper’s idea of “always looking for ways to go around the system.” As of March 25, $64,174 had been pledged.
The funds raised by the campaign will go toward all post-production aspects that are required to finish the film, including using movie clips to replace Hopper in scenes.
“This is a way of [the fans] saying we want this and we want to say we support this film and this comedy,” Yellen said. “This picture was made as a labor of love. Just the pleasure of doing good work and wanting it out there and wanting people to laugh a lot.”
The Kickstarter’s deadline is on April 9. To donate click here.
Borough President Melinda Katz has launched an open call for applications for the next Queens poet laureate, a prestigious three-year position charged with promoting a love of poetry and literacy throughout the borough.
“Because Queens is such a diverse borough, the Queens poet laureate must be a compelling wordsmith who is capable of synthesizing the borough’s many cultures and languages into poetry,” Katz said.
The Queens Borough President’s office and Queens College have been partners in the Queens poet laureate project since the search for the first Queens poet laureate began in 1996. This year, the Queens Borough Public Library joined the partnership for the first time and will provide meeting space for the next Queens poet laureate to present poetry and conduct outreach to the Queens community.
“As a primary source for culture and literature in our borough, Queens Library is delighted to partner with Borough President Melinda Katz’s office to find the next poet laureate. We look forward to hosting the new poet laureate at the library,” Queens Library Interim President/CEO Bridget Quinn-Carey said.
Queens College President Felix V. Matos Rodriguez added, “We are delighted that Borough President Katz is continuing this position and committed to promoting poetry – literature that can touch people of all backgrounds in a profound and universal way.”
The process of selecting the Queens poet laureate is overseen by the Queens Poet Laureate Administrative Committee.
Applications are available at www.queensbp.org/poet and must be submitted by April 24. Applicants must have a published portfolio and are expected to submit representative samples of their poetry, including poems related to Queens. This writing sample should not exceed 10 pages per applicant.
A panel of expert judges will review the applications and recommend three finalists to the borough president, who will make the final decision on who will be appointed.
The past Queens poet laureates are as follows: Stephen Stepanchev (who served from 1997 – 2001), Hal Sirowitz (2001 – 2004), Ishle Yi Park (2004 – 2007), Julio Marzan (2007 – 2010) and Paolo Javier (2010 – 2014).
The co-creator of “The King of Queens” is bringing the borough back to the small screen with a new Fox comedy premiering this month.
“Weird Loners” focuses on four relationship-challenged 30-somethings who unexpectedly end up in each other’s lives and start bonding while living next door to each other in a neighborhood that’s supposed to be Ridgewood.
Unlike some sitcoms featuring single urbanites, the comedy speaks to the stigma of being older and still being alone, according to creator and executive producer Michael J. Weithorn.
“There is the feeling that their lives are getting away from them,” Weithorn said. “But they bond together because they find each other.”
The show stars Becki Newton (“Ugly Betty”) as Caryn Goldfarb — described as a cute but high-strung dental hygienist who is love-crazed and an ultra-romantic. Her overeagerness and infatuation in her dating life has left her chronically single.
Zachary Knighton (“Happy Endings”) plays Stosh Lewandoski who is handsome, charming, smart and great at seducing women, but can’t maintain an intimate relationship. After losing his corporate condo, he is forced to move in with his cousin in Queens.
Michael Becker/FOX/Copyright 2014 FOX Broadcasting
Nate Torrence (“Hello Ladies”) plays his cousin Eric — a toll collector who is described as a sweet, odd man-child. He lives in his family home with his parents until they pass away and Stosh moves in with him.
Newcomer Meera Rohit Kumbhani plays Zara Sandhu — a mysterious and ethereal woman who likes to live in the moment. A lifelong heartbreaker, men and women regularly fall in love with her. After leaving yet another lover, she moves in with Caryn, who lives next door to Eric and Stosh.
These four characters may be considered “Weird Loners,” but the title is somewhat ironic according to Weithorn because everyone is a weird loner in a way.
“They’re just like all of us…they just have not been able to figure out how to do this one thing,” he said.
Weithorn, a Fresh Meadows native, started creating relatable characters based in Queens with his hit sitcom “The King of Queens,” which ran on CBS from 1998 to 2007.
“I feel like I can write [characters] better if I can feel what it’s like when they walk out their front door,” he said.
Ray Mickshaw/FOX/Copyright 2014 FOX Broadcasting
Weithorn’s shows haven’t been the only series set in the borough. “All in the Family” (1971-1979) was supposed to take place in Astoria, though the actual home is located in Glendale; and “Dear John” (1988–1992) was about a high school teacher who is forced to move to an apartment in Rego Park after divorcing his wife. Ugly Betty (2006–2010) focused on the title character’s job at the Manhattan offices of a top fashion magazine, but the dramedy also prominently featured the protagonist’s family home in Jackson Heights.
“The King of Queens” is the only one of the group to put the name of borough in the title, which was hard to sell at first, according to Weithorn. The title was given the go-ahead after the “Queens” was made into a street sign so people would know that Queens was a destination.
“I think we bombarded the American public with the image of Queens,” he said of the show, which is now in syndication.
After setting “The King of Queens” in Rego Park, Weithorn decided to use Ridgewood as the backdrop for “Weird Loners.”
Michael Becker/FOX/Copyright 2014 FOX Broadcasting
Weithorn had the set designer research the old buildings of the neighborhood for the Los Angeles-shot show, and used a Polish delicatessen he visited in the area as a child for the inspiration for the background of Stosh and Eric.
The two characters are children of Polish immigrants, a fact that is displayed proudly in Stosh’s name and the Polish banter the two sometimes have.
Weithorn doesn’t believe the show’s current scripts contain any direct references to the neighborhood so far, but there are future plans to feature it more prominently in the comedy.
But there are scenes that demonstrate it’s a Queens show — Eric’s hardcore devotion to the Mets and a bonding moment between the group in Flushing Meadows Corona Park.
“Hopefully we will get the chance to tell the world about Queens,” Weithorn said.
“Weird Loners” premieres on Fox Tuesday, March 31, at 9:30 p.m.
Police are investigating the death of a 55-year-old man who was found unresponsive early Sunday morning on an E train at the Jamaica Center subway station.
Responding to a 911 call of an unresponsive person inside a subway car, police found the man just after 7 a.m., authorities said. He had no obvious signs of trauma on his body, and was pronounced dead at the scene.
The Jamaica Center station is the last stop on the E line and it’s not clear how long the man was dead on the train before he was discovered.
The man’s identity hasn’t been released by police.