Tag Archives: Queens

Astoria resident looks to fund Queens Silk Road food tour


| aaltamirano@queenscourier.com

Images Courtesy of Adam Edwards

Adam Edwards is turning to Kickstarter to make his idea of bringing a two-day international food tour to Queens a reality.

Edwards’ project, called “The Silk Road & Spice Route of Queens,” hopes to highlight the borough’s diversity and modern versions of the foods that could be found along the ancient Silk Road and spice routes that connected Europe, Asia and Africa.

“I always wanted to do something with food that really connects with people, and Queens is a unique food destination in itself,” said Edwards, who calls himself a “history buff.”

The idea came to him upon exploring Astoria and seeing the different restaurants featuring international cuisines, such as Mombar located at 25-22 Steinway St.

“Walking through the beautiful entrance and tasting the amazing food by Chef Moustafa El Sayed really transported me back to ancient times and I want to share that feeling with others,” he said.

The Astoria resident, originally from Pittsburgh, said the biggest challenge is getting people to support his campaign without knowing an exact date of the tour.

The money donated to the Kickstarter will go toward a shuttle bus, which will serve as transportation between restaurants, and for prizes and reservations at the restaurants.

If he reaches the Kickstarter campaign’s goal of $2,000 by July 15, Edwards said, the two-day tour, slated to happen the second weekend of August, will cover five restaurants per day. The estimated price per day is $200.

The Saturday of the tour would be dedicated to the spice route, concentrating on Malaysian, Southern Indian and Egyptian cuisines. On Sunday, participants will go down the Silk Road, tasting food from Uzbekistan, western China and more.

“Queens is the most diverse place on earth,” Edwards said. “Certainly in the United States it’s the most diverse. I hope people can travel a little bit in their own backyard.”

Additional funds will also go toward supporting the nonprofit Upwardly Global, for which Edwards has organized fundraisers over the past few years.

To donate to the Kickstater, click here.

 

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Beat the heat at free outdoor pools in Queens this summer


By Queens Courier Staff | editorial@queenscourier.com

Photo courtesy of nycgovparks.org

Instead of sitting in air conditioning, try cooling off in one of the borough’s free outdoor pools starting Friday, June 27. All locations are open from 11:00 a.m. to 7:00 p.m. (with a break for cleaning between 3 and 4 p.m). The season ends September 1.

Astoria Park
19th Street and 23rd Drive
Olympic-sized Pool

Fisher Pool
99th Street and 32nd Avenue
Outdoor Intermediate Pool, Outdoor Wading Pool

Fort Totten
338 Story Avenue
Outdoor Intermediate Pool, Outdoor Wading Pool, Outdoor Diving Pool

Liberty Park Pool
173rd Street and 106th Avenue
Outdoor Intermediate Pool, Outdoor Wading Pool

Marie Curie Park
211th Street and 46th Avenue
Outdoor Mini Pool

P.S. 10
45th Street and 30th Road
Outdoor Mini Pool

P.S. 186 Playground
Little Neck Parkway & 72nd Avenue
Outdoor Mini Pool

Windmuller Park
54th Street and 39th Road
Outdoor Mini Pool

 

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Queens native explores borough in new children’s book


| aaltamirano@queenscourier.com

Illustrations © Rick Sanders

Demetra Tsavaris-Lecourezos is taking young readers on a journey around the world with the first magical stop in Queens.

Tsavaris-Lecourezos, who was born in Jackson Heights and raised in Woodside, is the author of a new children’s book and series titled “Young World Travelers and the Magical Crystal Globe,” where a group of kids from Florida are transported to any time period they want, wherever they want.

The first book of the series debuted Sunday at the World’s Fair Anniversary Festival. It takes these young world travelers back in time to experience the site of the 1939 and 1964 World’s Fairs, the Queens County Farm, before it was a museum, and a Civil War fort in Fort Totten.

“You pick up books in the bookstore and you are learning about the Statue of Liberty and Empire State Building, but never about the structures in Queens,” Tsavaris-Lecourezos said.

The concept of the “Young World Travelers” series began nine years ago when Tsavaris-Lecourezos gave birth to her daughter Katerina, the year after marrying her high school sweetheart. Together with her husband, Constantinos (Gus) P. Lecourezos she began to come up an initial concept of writing a movie script that would be educational for children and revolve around traveling to Greece.

After realizing the large costs that involved turning the script into a film, Tsavaris-Lecourezos decided to create a children’s book. She wrote four books in total with the characters traveling to places in Egypt, England, Greece and New York.

In 2009, her husband passed away and Tsavaris-Lecourezos moved to Tarpon Springs, Florida with her daughter.

At the end of last year a friend suggested she take her concept to a publisher and when Tsavaris-Lecourezos approached publisher thewordverve inc. her ideas were accepted.

“It was all falling into place, I had no idea,” she said. “I’m rolling with it and I’m really excited.”

The “Young World Travelers” series is dedicated to Tsavaris-Lecourezos’ husband and mother. In the book the children receive a magical crystal globe, which allows them to time travel, from Mrs. Eva, who was named and inspired by Tsavaris-Lecourezos’ mother.

The 43-page book’s illustrator Rick Sanders is also a Queens native. Though Tsavaris-Lecourezos and him first met through thewordverve, they were coincidentally born in the same hospital.

During the World’s Fair Anniversary Festival, Tsavaris-Lecourezos held two readings to share the book with visitors of all ages.

“I was so honored to have been invited to such an event,” she said. “It was amazing and an opportunity of a lifetime to be able to debut my book there.”

To preorder “Young World Travelers and the Magical Crystal Globe,” click here.

 

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Jackson Heights filmmaker turns to Kickstarter for new flick


| aaltamirano@queenscourier.com

Photos Courtesy of Alex Webb

Actor Alex Webb has gone behind the camera to write, direct and produce award-winning films. Now, he is turning to Kickstarter to get his new film rolling.

The Jackson Heights resident has worked with actors such Meryl Streep, Kevin Spacey and Ben Affleck and has appeared in the Netflix series “House of Cards” and HBO’s “Boardwalk Empire.”

Aside from acting, Webb began working on film production with his first picture “The Girl in 2C,” which received a silver medal at WorldFest, an international indie film festival in Houston. His most recent short film “Hove (The Wind)” received the Panavision New Filmmaker Award and was selected for several international film festivals.

“The interesting thing I didn’t realize is that all along I had writing and directing right in my pocket,” Webb said. “I was much happier when those times came to be creative and start creating your own work.”

Webb decided the next step in his production career would be to create a full-length feature and came up with his newest thriller and dark comedy flick called “To The Flame.”

“[I wanted to] try to make a story that is super intriguing, weird and surprising and — on the production end — simple,” Webb said. “Make [a film] that would really lend itself to a micro-budget.”

On May 7, Webb created a 30-day Kickstarter project to help raise $25,000 in funds to make his feature film a reality. The money raised would go toward production equipment and hiring the remaining cast and crew members, as well as helping to keep location and travel needs to a minimum.

“The great thing about Kickstarter is you are raising awareness about your project before even starting it,” Webb said. “You get these people already hooked on the project and you’re getting an audience before it even starts.”

The film, which already has Oscar-winning actress Olympia Dukakis and actor Bob Balaban slotted for cameos, was inspired by the works of directors Alfred Hitchcock and David Lynch. It follows two college students, Kyle and Penny, and their interaction with two neighbors, played by Webb and his wife Shirleyann Kaladjian, for a school assignment. The project then takes the students into the couple’s “dark and twisted world,” Webb said.

Shooting for the film is expected to begin in early July, with some scenes possibly shot in Queens, and a release date is slated for late this year or early 2015.

To watch a teaser for “To The Flame” and donate to the Kickstarter, which ends June 6, click here.

 

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Top Women in Business 2014


| lnieves@queenscourier.com

The 12th Annual Top Women in Business networking and awards event on Tuesday, May 20, will honor influential women in business in Queens.

The event will celebrate women of Queens finance, healthcare, education and entrepreneurship whose major achievements and participation in community activities has helped the borough grow. Along with recognizing notable Queens’s figures, the “Women in Business” event also provides one of the top networking forums in the borough.

The event will also honor Greg Kelly, co-host of Fox News’s “Good Day New York,” as Best Man of the Year. Queensborough President Melinda Katz will be attending the ceremony as well.  “Greg Kelly is one of the most beloved, interesting and powerful newscasters in television,” said Victoria Schneps, publisher and CEO of The Queens Courier. “We are delighted to honor the highest-rated morning TV personality as our Best Man of the Year.”

The event will be held from 6 to 9 p.m. at Terrace on the Park, 52-11 111 St., Flushing Meadows Park, Queens. The evening will begin with an Expo and Networking portion followed by the Dinner awards ceremony.

This years honorees:

LEADERSHIP IN EDUCATION AWARD

  • Sharon DeVivo President, Vaughn College

LIFETIME ACHIEVEMENT AWARD

  • Dr. Jasmin Moshirpur : Dean/Medical Director, Elmhurst Hospital

2014 Honorees:

  • Gina Battagliola, Project Manager : JFK International Air Terminal
  • Kimberly Benn, Advertising Account Executive: DeSales Media Group
  • Clara Berg, Service Specialist: YAI Services
  • Marizen Bernales, RN/CEO: Atlantic Dialysis
  • Dr. Sabra Brock, Interim Dean: Touro Grad School of Business
  • Tracy Capune, Vice President: Kaufman Astoria Studios
  • Laurie Dorf, Assistant Vice Principal& ED: Queens College
  • Rosa A. Figueroa, Director of Small Business Development: LaGuardia Community College
  • Marsha Goldberg, Principal: Public School 46
  • Eve Cho Guillergan, Attorney: Eve Guillergan PLLC
  • Pam Horowitz, Director of Home Care: Parker Jewish Institute
  • Kimberly Kuchera, CEO: KJR Aviation
  • Missy Lawrence, Vice President Marketing: Resorts World Casino
  • Nora Constance Marino, Esq.,Queens County Commission: NYC Taxi& Limousine Commission and TV Legal Commentator
  • MaryAnn McAleer, Director of Development: Queens Centers for Progress
  • Janine Michel, Executive Director: Christ the King Continuing Education
  • Carole Nussbaum, Principal: Public School 203
  • Erica Oleske, Development Officer: Catholic Foundation for         Brooklyn & Queens
  • Luisa Otero, Life Coach/Author: No Nonsense Coaching
  • Stephanie Ovadia, Attorney/Radio Host
  • Heather Palmer, 2nd Vice President: Queens County Savings Bank
  • Michelle Rosa Patruno, Regional Sales Manager/Senior Loans Specialist: Vanguard Funding
  • Sarah BJ Song, Chairman of Korean: American Family Services
  • Donna Tucker, Chief of Staff: Regional Alliance
  • Tiki Vanderbilt, Partner: NY Life Insurance Company
  • Denise Ward, College Interim Vice President & Executive Director: Queensborough Community
  • Carrie White, Classified Sales Manager: Desales Media Group
  • Mary Zias, Store Manager: TD Bank

HALL of FAME HONOREES:

  • Maureen Buglino,  R.N. Vice President for Community Medicine & Emergency Medicine: New York Presbyterian
  • Stefanie Handsman, Head of Treasury Services Division: Bank Leumi
  • Dominique Camacho Moran, Attorney Labor and Practice: Farrell and Fritz
  • Linda Spiegel, Director of Public Affairs and Marketing: Margaret Tietz Nursing and Rehabilitation Center
  • Annette Vallone, Owner and Director : Landrum Dance School

New Fox comedy to feature 30-somethings living in Queens


By Queens Courier Staff | editorial@queenscourier.com

Photo courtesy of 2014 Fox Broadcasting Co. / Michael Becker/FOX

A new Fox show, called “Weird Loners,” will use Queens as its backdrop.

The single-camera comedy, scheduled for 2015, focuses on “four single 30-something underdogs who are unexpectedly thrust into one another’s lives and form an unlikely bond in a Queens townhouse.” The show, which is still early in production, places the home in Ridgewood.

Nate Torrence and Zachary Knighton. (©2014 Fox Broadcasting Co. Cr: Ray Mickshaw/FOX)

From writer Michael J. Weithorn (“The King of Queens”) and director Jake Kasdan (“New Girl”), the show stars Becki Newton (“Ugly Betty”), Zachary Knighton (“Happy Endings”), Nate Torrence (“Hello Ladies”) and newcomer Meera Khumbhani.

Newton plays Caryn Goldfarb: “A cute, but high-strung dental hygienist whose romantic life, unfortunately, is dictated by the love-crazed, ultra-romantic 13-year-old barricaded inside the control room of her brain. Each time a handsome new man crosses her field of vision, infatuation and extreme over-eagerness take over, and she inevitably winds up back at square one – single and not getting any younger.”

Becki Newton and Zachary Knighton. (©2014 Fox Broadcasting Co. Cr: Ray Mickshaw/FOX)

Knighton plays Stosh Lewandoski: Described as “handsome, charming and whip-smart,” he’s a “serial seducer who has never been able to maintain an intimate relationship with a woman for very long – a couple of hours, usually. When Stosh’s shenanigans result in him losing his corporate condo, he winds up moving in with his cousin Eric.”

Torrence plays Eric Lewandoski: “A sweet, odd man-child, whose “adult life has consisted of living at home with elderly parents and working as a toll collector on the Queensboro Bridge. After both of his parents pass away, he finds himself cast adrift in the world for the first time.”

Meera Khumbhani and Nate Torrence. (© 2014 Fox Broadcasting Co. Cr: Michael Becker/FOX)

Meera Khumbhani plays Zara Sandhu: “Drop-dead gorgeous, mysterious and ethereal, Zara is a lifelong heartbreaker who’s only capable of living one way – ‘in the moment.’  Men and women fall in love with her on a regular basis, and she often reciprocates their feelings with great passion, until… she doesn’t.”

 

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Suspect wanted in hammer attack robberies charged


By Queens Courier Staff | editorial@queenscourier.com

Photo courtesy of the NYPD

Updated Tuesday, May 13 7:05 a.m.

The hammer-wielding robber wanted in three attacks, including an assault on a woman in Queens, has been charged in connection to the two of the incidents, police said.

Anthony Coward, 28, who police identified as the suspect in the robberies over the weekend, allegedly approached a 23-year-old man and struck him in the head with a hammer on May 4, at about 11:00 a.m., at the Rockaway Avenue A/C subway station at Fulton Street in Brooklyn. He then continued to beat the rest of his body with the hammer before he fled with the victim’s wallet, police said. The victim was taken to Brookdale Hospital and released.

He then approached a 32-year-old man, who was trying to buy a MetroCard at the same Rockaway Avenue subway station in Brooklyn at about 9:20 a.m. Wednesday, 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.

Coward has been charged with robbery in both of the Brooklyn attacks, according to police.

In another attack that is believed to be connected to the other incidents, a 26-year-old reportedly pregnant woman was robbed and assaulted on the morning of March 5 on Pershing Crescent in Briarwood, cops said. The suspect 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. The investigation is still ongoing into that robbery, officials said.

 

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Queens, Bronx borough presidents make edible wager on Subway Series


| aaltamirano@queenscourier.com

THE COURIER/ File Photo

The stakes are going to be deliciously high when the New York Mets and New York Yankees take the field during this year’s Subway Series.

Queens Borough President Melinda Katz and Bronx Borough President Ruben Diaz Jr. are wagering an assortment of foods, each from their respective boroughs, based on the results of the four-game series taking place from Monday, May 12 through Thursday, May 15, the two announced Sunday.

If the Mets win more games than the Yankees, then Diaz will send Katz a sample tray of empanadas from Babalu on East Tremont Road and a dozen cannolis from Egidio Pastry Shop, located in Belmont, the Bronx’s Little Italy.

But if the Yankees win, Katz will send Diaz a tray of sandwiches from Leo’s Latticini, also known as Mama’s of Corona. For dessert, Katz will also send pastries from the Omonia Café in Astoria.

“Queens offers an incredibly diverse array of cuisine and has some of the best restaurants in the city, so Borough President Diaz is in for a real treat if the Yankees manage to win the series,” Katz said. “But I fully expect the Mets will win and that I will be enjoying some delicious food from the Bronx.”

Both stakes will be paid out if the two New York baseball teams split the four game series 2-2.

“We have great culinary options in The Bronx, so a Mets victory would certainly be a treat for Borough President Katz,” Diaz said. “But the Yankees are the greatest franchise in baseball history, and I’m sure their decades of dominance will continue through this week.”

 

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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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