Tag Archives: Queens

Police identify suspect in hammer attack robberies


| aaltamirano@queenscourier.com

Photo Courtesy of the NYPD

The NYPD has identified the suspect they say robbed and attacked his victims with a hammer in Queens and Brooklyn.

Anthony Coward, 28, approached his first victim, a 26-year-old reportedly pregnant woman, on March 5 at about 7 a.m. in front of 138-49 Pershing Crescent in Briarwood, cops said. Coward allegedly came up to her from behind and struck her on the head with a silver hammer and fled with her handbag. The victim was taken to Jamaica Hospital in stable condition, according to police.

On May 4, at about 11:00 a.m., at the Rockaway Avenue A/C subway station at Fulton Street in Brooklyn, Coward approached a 23-year-old man and struck him in the head with a hammer and then went on to strike the man’s body, before he fled with the victim’s wallet, police said. The man was taken to Brookdale Hospital and released.

Then on May 7 at about 9:20 a.m. Coward approached a 32-year-old man, who was trying to buy a MetroCard at the same Rockaway Avenue subway station in Brooklyn, and struck him on the head with a hammer and demanded money, cops said. Once the victim handed over the money, Coward fled. The victim was taken to Brookdale Hospital and released.

Police describe Coward as black, 6 feet 1 inches tall, with black hair and brown eyes, and 160 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.

 

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First Queens Beer Week to showcase borough’s best


| aaltamirano@queenscourier.com

Image Courtesy of Queens Beer Week

The city will raise a toast to Queens in the borough’s inaugural beer week starting Friday.

Since 2009, more than half of the city’s breweries have opened up in Queens, with a total of seven breweries in the borough, according to Astoria resident Dan Bronson, organizer of the first annual Queens Beer Week.

The nine-day event, which begins Friday and runs through Sunday, April 27, celebrates the best beers, bars and breweries the borough has to offer. Queens Beer Week will bring together over 60 bars and restaurants for a week of promoting the rapidly growing craft beer scene.

“We thought it was time that Queens got its own beer week to share its own achievements,” Bronson said. “We thought it was time to have a week of our own.”

On Friday, the borough’s newest brewery, Transmitter, will make its debut at Crescent and Vine, located at 25-03 Ditmars Blvd. in Astoria.

The official kick-off for Queens Beer Week will take place during an open invitation party, 21 years and older and no tickets needed, from 7 p.m. to 11 p.m. at Singlecut Beersmiths, at 19-33 37th St.

The Taste of Queens party will feature all of the borough’s breweries, local vendors, music, and the debut of the event’s exclusive “Queen of Tarts” ale from Barrier Brewing Company.

Queens Beer Week will then continue with a week of more than 40 innovative beer-centric events, spread across the borough, including event pairings of beer, wine, chocolate and music.

“It is a great week to go explore the bars and breweries in Queens,” Bronson said.

For more info on participating venues and up-to-date notifications of events going on during Queens Beer Week, visit the event’s official website or follow @QueensBeerWeek on Twitter.

 

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Astoria man gets life without parole in girlfriend’s death


By Queens Courier Staff | editorial@queenscourier.com

An Astoria man convicted of murder for the beating death of his girlfriend has been sentenced to life in prison without the possibility of parole, District Attorney Richard Brown said Tuesday.

Jason Bohn, 35, was found guilty on March 5 of first-degree murder for strangling and torturing his 27-year-old girlfriend, Danielle Thomas, to death on June 26, 2012 inside their Astoria apartment.

The couple was feuding over phone calls Thomas had made, according to trial testimony.

“The defendant has been held accountable for his actions and will spend the rest of his life in prison,” Brown said. “At trial, the jury listened to harrowing evidence – including a recording during which the victim begged for her life as the defendant tortured and ultimately killed her – and returned a verdict of first-degree murder finding that ‘the defendant acted in an especially cruel and wanton manner pursuant to a course of conduct intended to inflict and inflicting torture upon the victim prior to the victim’s death.’”

Bohn, a University of Florida law school graduate, was also convicted of tampering with physical evidence and first-degree criminal contempt.

 

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‘Hero’ cop mourned at Far Rockaway funeral


By Queens Courier Staff | editorial@queenscourier.com

Photos by Eric Jankiewicz/Guerra photo courtesy of NYPD

BY CRISTABELLE TUMOLA AND ERIC JANKIEWICZ

A police officer who died after responding to a Brooklyn fire was remembered in Far Rockaway as a heroic member of the force, dedicated to his job and family.

Loved ones, city officials and thousands of NYPD officers were among those who came out to say goodbye to 38-year-old Bayswater resident Dennis Guerra at his funeral, held at St. Rose of Lima Church Monday.

“Thank you to all those who are here to remember the heroic and courageous acts of Officer Guerra,” Police Commissioner Bill Bratton said, before announcing the posthumous promotion of Guerra to first-grade detective. “God bless Dennis who was once, and forever will be, an officer in blue.”

Bratton then recounted Guerra’s ascent up the law enforcement ladder, from a school safety officer, to a corrections officer, and finally to a police officer over eight years ago.

“We’ll always remember with sadness that day he left us but we’ll also remember the courage he displayed,” Mayor Bill de Blasio said at the service. “Dennis is an example for us all.”

Among the many politicians who attended the funeral were Comptroller Scott Stringer, Public Advocate Letitia James, Brooklyn Borough President Eric Adams and Brooklyn District Attorney Ken Thompson.

Curtis Mitchell, Guerra’s brother-in-law, also spoke during the funeral, and described how the officer would cook for the whole family on weekends and became known as the “grill master.”

“He was recently called a hero,” Mitchell said. “But to his family, he was always a hero and forever will be.”

“I wish I had another chance to say, I love you,” he continued.

The fallen cop, who left behind a wife and four children, aged 7 to 20, died Wednesday after being overcome with smoke from an April 6 arson fire in Coney Island.

Guerra and fellow housing officer Rosa Rodriguez, 36, were critically injured in a blaze at a Surf Avenue housing development when the elevator doors opened on the 13floor and the officers were engulfed in smoke.

Both officers suffered from carbon monoxide poisoning and the effects of smoke inhalation.

Rodriguez reportedly remains hospitalized.

Marcell Dockery, who lives in the housing development where the deadly fire started, was indicted on a charge of second-degree murder Friday, according to published reports. He was already charged with arson, assault and reckless endangerment.

The teen allegedly lit a mattress on fire because he was “bored,” reports said.

 

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Teen charged with murder in Coney Island fire that killed Queens cop


| ctumola@queenscourier.com

Photo courtesy of NYPD

A 16-year-old who allegedly set a Coney Island fire that killed a police officer from Far Rockaway has been charged with murder, according to published reports.

Marcell Dockery, who lives in the housing development where the deadly blaze started, was indicted on a charge of second-degree murder Friday, reports said. He was already charged with arson, assault and reckless endangerment.

The teen allegedly lit a mattress on fire because he was “bored,” according to reports.

Two NYPD housing officers, Dennis Guerra, 38, and Rosa Rodriguez, 36, were responding to the fire on Sunday when they were critically injured, police said.

After taking the elevator to the Surf Avenue building’s 13th floor, they were overcome by smoke in the hallway, when the doors opened, officials said.

Both officers suffered from carbon monoxide poisoning and the effects of smoke inhalation.

Guerra, a Bayswater resident, passed away Wednesday, leaving behind a wife and four children, according to officials. Rodriguez  reportedly remains hospitalized.

A visitation will be held Sunday for Guerra from 2 to 9 p.m. at the James Romanelli-Stephen Funeral Home in Ozone Park, according to published reports. His funeral service will take place the following day at 11 a.m. at Saint Rose of Lima Church in Rockaway Beach.

 

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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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Man pleads guilty to sexually abusing two seven-year-old girls in South Ozone Park


| ctumola@queenscourier.com

Photo courtesy of NYPD

A man arrested last May for sexually abusing two young South Ozone Park girls pleaded guilty to the crimes Monday, District Attorney Richard Brown said.

“The defendant has admitted to being a sexual predator and, as such, he has proven himself to be a threat to children and a clear and present danger to society in general,” Brown said. “Today’s plea ensures that he is punished for his crimes and spares his young victims of having to relive their nightmarish experience at trial.”

Lee Samuel, 26, whose last known address was in the Jamaica section of Queens, pleaded guilty to first-degree criminal sexual act and first-degree sexual abuse, according to prosecutors. Sentencing is scheduled for May 5, at which time he will receive 14 years in prison and 20 years post-release supervision.

The hunt for a suspect had the South Ozone Park area on edge last spring after it was reported that a man had sexual contact with two seven-year-old girls.

The separate incidents happened within just hours of and approximately two miles away from each other on May 1, 2013, officials said.

In pleading guilty, said Brown, Samuel admitted that he approached the first victim as she was tying her shoe on the sidewalk and touched her on her buttocks.

Several hours later Samuel came up to his second victim and pretended that he wanted to play a game with her, Brown said. Samuel then exposed himself to the girl and engaged in a sexual act with her.

 

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Stop for school bus or lose license for 60 days: state Senate


| mchan@queenscourier.com

File photo

Repeat scofflaws who zoom through school bus stop signs could face stiffer penalties under a bill the state Senate passed last week.

The legislation calls for a 60-day license suspension for drivers who illegally pass a stopped school bus more than twice within 10 years.

“It’s bad enough that a driver passes a stopped school bus once, but to do it twice is unacceptable,” said upstate Sen. John Bonacic, who penned the law. “This bill is intended to make our roads safer for our school children.”

Committing the crime twice within three years is currently punishable by up to $750 and 180 days in jail. But only the monetary fine — up to $1,000 — increases for each new offense after that.

The new law, in line with citywide “Vision Zero” strides to reduce pedestrian fatalities, would temporarily yank dangerous drivers from the wheel.

“Drivers who are reckless with their lives and the lives of others, particularly with the lives of children, must be punished and taken off the roads,” Sen. Toby Ann Stavisky said.

The bill now awaits movement by the state Assembly’s Transportation Committee.

 

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Officials announce events to mark World’s Fair anniversary


| mchan@queenscourier.com

THE COURIER/Photo by Melissa Chan

The “world’s borough” is ready for its six-month-long anniversary party.

Officials unveiled a long lineup of Queens events and cultural exhibits Friday to celebrate the 50th and 75th anniversaries of the 1964 and 1939 World’s Fairs held in Flushing Meadows-Corona Park.

Festivities begin in April and include 50-cent rides on the historic carousel and a rare tour of the iconic New York State Pavilion.

“Both [fairs] were seminal events that had wide impacts locally, nationally and internationally,” Queens Borough President Melinda Katz said. “As borough president, there isn’t anybody I speak to about the World’s Fair that doesn’t have a story about it.”

An official opening ceremony will take place at the Pavilion April 22. Visitors will be given a rare chance to slap on hard hats and tour the fair icon.

Revelers in the borough can also visit the park, near the Unisphere, May 18 for a full day of festivities and the Queens Museum for a peek into Andy Warhol’s controversial project, which was painted over before the 1964 fair’s opening day.

“With these anniversary events, we will take a look back at the fairs and a look forward to the future of Flushing Meadows – the world’s park and Queens’ backyard,” said Liam Kavanagh, the Parks Department’s first deputy commissioner.

For a full list of borough-wide events, click here.

 

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Trial for Flushing doctor facing manslaughter charges will start Friday


By Queens Courier Staff | editorial@queenscourier.com

The Flushing doctor accused of fatally overdosing two patients will go on trial Friday morning in Manhattan Supreme Court.

Stan Xuhui Li, a New Jersey anesthesiologist, was indicted on manslaughter charges in 2012 for illegally prescribing highly addictive painkillers to 20 patients and causing the deaths of Joseph Haeg, 37, and Nicholas Rappold, 21.

Li is charged with a total of 219 counts. He has pleaded not guilty.

He operated a popular weekend pain clinic, Medical Pain Management, in a Flushing basement at 132-59 41st Rd.

 

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Queens student treated for tuberculosis as cases rise in city


| mchan@queenscourier.com

CDC/ Melissa Brower

A Hillcrest High School student recently exposed to tuberculosis is receiving treatment and recovering from the potentially deadly bacterial infection, officials said.

The Health Department tested 170 students and six staff members who might have been at risk at the Queens school Tuesday as a precaution.

“Given that the person with TB is receiving treatment, there is no health risk to students or staff currently at the school,” a department spokeswoman said.

Tuberculosis cases are on the rise in the city for the first time in a decade, health officials said. They increased 1 percent from 651 in 2012 to 656 in 2013.

Most people infected were foreign-born, living in Flushing, western Queens and Sunset Park in Brooklyn, according to the Health Department.

Officials said 19 out of 100,000 people have contracted the disease in Corona, Woodside, Elmhurst, Jackson Heights and Maspeth and 15 out of 100,000 in Flushing.

“Many are likely infected in their country of origin and developed TB after entering the U.S.,” Health Commissioner Dr. Mary Bassett said.

Smokers and people with diabetes or HIV have a higher chance of getting tuberculosis and should be tested for the disease, Bassett said.

Tuberculosis, which usually affects the lungs, spreads from person to person through the air.

 

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Mid-Queens Council meltdown prompts resignation


| mchan@queenscourier.com

Photo via Facebook

The treasurer of the Mid-Queens Community Council has resigned and others are mulling an exit, following a heated spat with the group’s leader and a failed bid to overthrow her, The Queens Courier has learned.

“What happened was a disgrace,” said Jim DeBonet, who handled the council’s finances before his Tuesday departure. “This is it. Goodbye. I want nothing to do with this.”

The fuming Flushing Heights activist said the group’s president, Florence Fisher, should have stepped down after she penned a missive, without authority, “attacking” another civic leader in December.

The letter said Hillcrest Estates Civic Association President Kevin Forrestal, who works for the Health and Hospitals Corporation, had a conflict of interest regarding controversial T Building plans at Queens Hospital Center.

“Let me be clear about this,” Fisher wrote to a dozen local leaders. “[Kevin] does not represent the views of many of our delegates.”

That backfired when some board members said Fisher did not have board approval to mail the message.

“I found it shocking,” said Jim Gallagher Jr., the council’s first vice president. “I wasn’t told about the letter. None of it was mentioned.”

Still, eight members of the Mid-Queens Community Council, which represents 34 smaller organizations, voted to keep Fisher at the helm during an hour-long discussion Monday. DeBonet was the only dissenting vote, and three people abstained.

The internal battle stemmed from a misunderstanding, Fisher said.

“I have admired Kevin for forever,” she said. “He’s done wonderful, wonderful community work. We all wear lots of hats. It was nothing personal.”

Fisher, who has led the council for slightly more than a year, said she was unaware the group’s bylaws required a sign-off before sending.

“I’m the kind of person who likes to get things done when there are big issues out there,” she said. “I took it upon myself to write it, and I learned a lesson.”

Forrestal, who is not part of the council, shook off the letter, saying he has never cast an official T Building vote and always discloses his employment before speaking.

But the damage has been done to the shrinking volunteer organization, said Gallagher Jr., who is one of a few considering a leave.

“I was very disappointed with how the whole thing turned out,” he said. “It was sad, and that’s not what we’re all about.”

 

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FBI raids Assemblyman Scarborough’s home, office: reports


By Queens Courier Staff | editorial@queenscourier.com

THE COURIER/File photo

The home and office of southeast Queens Assemblyman Bill Scarborough were raided by the FBI Wednesday morning, according to published reports.

Scarborough’s Albany office and Queens home were searched as part of an investigation into his travel reimbursements, the New York Post reported.
His district office and an Albany hotel room were also searched, according to the Daily News.

Scarborough, who served in the legislature for more than 20 years, told reporters that officials from the FBI and the office of New York State Attorney General Eric Schneiderman seized his cell phone, calendars and “just about everything,” another report said.

“I’m innocent, but I understand the reality,” Scarborough said to a group of reporters, according to Capital New York. “I don’t know what’s going to go on. I am going to talk to a lawyer. This is just stunning to me.”

The Post reported in 2012 that Scarborough claimed per diem payments for spending five consecutive nights in Albany in 2011, but reporters spotted him at a town hall meeting at York College in Jamaica on one of the days he claimed to be in the state capital.

“I may very well have gone to that meeting, turned around and gone back to Albany that night,” he told the paper when they broke the story.

Scarborough said agents hinted there would be other politicians in hot water – and that he might be off the hook – but then the officials appeared to have backed off, Capital New York reported.

“What I was told was there might be indictments and I would not be one of them. When I spoke with people here, they seem to have tempered that statement, so I have no idea,” Scarborough told a reporter, according to the website.

Schneiderman’s office referred callers to the FBI, who did not return a call for comment by press time.

There was no answer at Scarborough’s district office or his Albany office.

 

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City Council rejects Whitestone sidewalk cafe bid


| mchan@queenscourier.com

THE COURIER/Photo by Melissa Chan

The City Council unanimously struck down a controversial bid for a Whitestone sidewalk café Wednesday.

Owners of Nonna’s Pizzeria & Trattoria wanted to wrap an outdoor sitting area around their 22-30 154th St. Italian restaurant.

But a handful of neighbors said the proposal would bring excessive noise and take away parking spaces.

Lawmakers said the sidewalk is also not wide enough and too close to residential homes.

“The impact of this victory should ensure all future applicants make every effort to address the concerns of the community board and neighboring residents,” Councilman Paul Vallone said.

Restaurant manager Joe Lobue recently told The Courier the outdoor area would have let customers kick back and enjoy a meal in the sunshine.

The restaurant’s lawyer, who was in court Wednesday, did not immediately reply to a call for comment.

 

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Identify this place in Queens


By Queens Courier Staff | editorial@queenscourier.com

Norwod Gardens then

Do you know where in Queens this photo was taken?

Guess by commenting below!

The answer will be revealed next Friday.

Last week’s answer to “Identify this Place”: New York Hall of Science