Tag Archives: St. Albans

Police seek suspect who followed, exposed himself to women in St. Albans


| ctumola@queenscourier.com

Photos courtesy of NYPD

Cops have released a photo of a suspect’s vehicle after he was allegedly caught pantless by two women inside his parked vehicle after following them.

The victims, two women in their 20s, were walking down 120th Avenue near 198th Street in St. Albans about 5 p.m. on March 20 when they noticed the suspect inside his car with his legs and feet on the dashboard, police said.

After they passed by the man, he followed them in his vehicle and parked in a place to make sure the women passed by him again, according to officials. When the women walked by the suspect, he was naked from the waist down with his legs on the dashboard.

The victims then fled the scene, cops said.

Police describe the suspect’s car as a grey and green 2003 Subaru Legacy.

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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Police: Man exposes himself to women on St. Albans street


| ctumola@queenscourier.com

A man was allegedly caught exposing himself to two women while inside a car on a St. Albans street, cops said.

The incident happened about 5 p.m. Thursday on 120th Avenue near 198th Street, according to police.

The 25-year-old woman who reported the lewd act told cops the man was pantless and driving a green SUV when he exposed himself to her and another woman.

A video obtained exclusively by PIX11 from the victims shows the man masturbating near a bus stop.

The women told PIX11 they were jogging down 120th Avenue when they witnessed the suspect touching himself. The man then allegedly followed the women, parked next to another bus stop and started masturbating again.

There are no arrests at this time and the investigation is ongoing, police said.

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Police: Three suspected armed robbers tied to two other Queens crimes


| mchan@queenscourier.com

Photo courtesy of the NYPD

The three suspects wanted for robbing a Queens Village hair salon at gunpoint last week have been tied to two other store robberies in the borough, police said.

Last Saturday, the trio, each wielding a gun, forced clerks at a 22-06 Hempstead Ave. salon to the back of the store about 7:25 p.m., authorities said. They stole money, cell phones and hair products before fleeing.

Police said the suspects are also responsible for robbing two St. Albans delis, located two blocks from each other.

The first incident took place last Wednesday at 113-27 Farmers Blvd., while the second happened Sunday at 114-25 Farmers Blvd.

Both times, the suspects left with an undetermined amount of money, police said.

Anyone with information is asked to call Crime Stoppers at 800-577-TIPS (8477). 

 

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Queens elementary school teacher sentenced to 35 years for sexually abusing students


| ctumola@queenscourier.com

A Queens elementary school teacher who was convicted of sexually abusing five of his students has been sentenced to 35 years in prison, according to District Attorney Richard Brown.

In June, Simon Watts, 42, of St. Albans, was found guilty of sexual abuse, sexual conduct against a child, forcible touching and endangering the welfare of a child, said prosecutors.

According to trial testimony, said Brown, the crimes took place while Watts was working as a third- and fourth-grade teacher at P.S. 15 Jackie Robinson in Springfield Gardens between September 2007 and March 2010.

During that time, he abused four females and one male, ranging between eight and 10 years old.

 

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New school opening in St. Albans


| mhayes@queenscourier.com

Photo courtesy of the Office Of Councilmember Leroy Comrie

A new elementary school is coming to St. Albans to help alleviate overcrowding in the neighborhood’s existing schools.

The current St. Pascal Baylon Roman Catholic Church on 112th Avenue is being renovated into the new school, P.S. 892, and will welcome about 380 students.

“Once P.S. 892 opens, it will help relieve the overcrowding currently taking place at P.S. 118 and P.S. 134, while helping to ensure our youth have the resources to learn and be successful in the future,” said Councilmember Leroy Comrie, who advocated for the renovation.

The abandoned church was once home to the Police Athletic League where they were able to provide various youth services to the community. However, after the group left the building, residents grew concerned not only that there would be a decrease in resources for their young people, but also that the site would be negative on the community, Comrie said.

But the new school is on its way. Once the $19 million renovation is complete, estimated to be by July 2014, students in pre-kindergarten through 5th grade will walk through the doors and head to one of the 13 standard classrooms, two pre-kindergarten rooms or two special education classrooms.

It will also have a gym, science/art resource room, music suite, library, cafeteria, kitchen and an outdoor playground.

The building will additionally be equipped with wireless routers and LAN lines for Internet access, as well as interactive white boards in the classrooms.

An opening date has not yet been decided but is projected for 2015.

“We’re working hard as we can to work with and deliver for this community, and the new school reflects our efforts,” said a Department of Education spokesperson. “Anytime we open a new school, we’re confident it will achieve great outcomes for kids. When we can do it in a new building, even better.”

 

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LL Cool J returns to Queens for Jump and Ball Tournament


| lguerre@queenscourier.com

THE COURIER/Photos by Liam La Guerre

It’s not just Ladies who Love Cool James.

The rapper and actor, whose real name is James Smith, was surrounded by hundreds of male and female fans and residents for pictures and hugs as he made his way through Daniel O’Connell Park to watch the games of his 9th annual Jump and Ball Tournament on Saturday.

LL Cool J, who stars in “NCIS: Los Angeles,” started the tournament along with State Senator Malcolm Smith to give back to his community.

“There are a lot of artist who come out of southeast Queens, but I can tell you this is the only one I know who has stepped up and said ‘I want to give something back,’ and has stuck with it for nine years,” the senator said.

The event, which features basketball games every weekend until September 1, is free to register and participate. In past weeks there was also live music, free food and a variety of other family fun activities, including golf, chess, tennis, a karate showcase and rope tricks by Cowboy Curly Hall.

“I think it’s wonderful that he does this for the community,” said St. Albans resident Leticia Moore-Jackson. “He never forgot where he came from. He’s a great rapper, entertainer and a great person.”

Coming back home was special for James as well, because he said his schedule forces him to be everywhere around the country and sometimes abroad. He delivered a message to the children at the park about believing in your dreams, despite what others may say.

“Anything you really truly believe deep down inside you, you can accomplish,” he said. “And I don’t want you to ever think that because you’re from this neighborhood, my neighborhood, that you’re somehow relegated to only having a certain amount of success or you’re only able to do certain things based on where you’re from or the color your skin or what someone else says about you. Don’t believe that because it’s not true.”

James said the basketball tournament has turned into an important part of the year for the community and it is a significant event for him as well.

“This is the hood and basketball is just a big part of how we came up and how we grew up and I wanted to make sure that they had an opportunity to play and have fun,” he said. “I think they love it and I love it.”

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Cowboys ride into annual Jump and Ball Tournament


| lguerre@queenscourier.com

THE COURIER/Photos by Liam La Guerre

LL Cool J’s ninth annual Jump and Ball Tournament in St. Albans had a dark horse.

Cowboy Curly Hall and members of the Federation of Black Cowboys of Howard Beach mosied on to Daniel O’Connell Park on Saturday to meet young buckaroos and buckarettes, while the basketball games raged on.

The tournament, an effort by embattled State Senator Malcolm Smith and the world famous rapper and actor LL Cool J, gave kids a chance to learn about history and lifestyles of cowboys and to interact with horses, among other sports events and educational activities.

“In this century there are not many cowboys around that kids can recognize as being another source of living,” Hall said. “We actually live the cowboy life, we actually perform and try to enjoy what was once a real way of life. But saying all of that I  enjoy entertaining the kids and teaching them a little history.”

The event, which features free basketball tournaments, every Saturday and Sunday until Sept. 1, from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m, also had free food, giveaways and live music. Children could participate in golf as well or talk with representatives from the Queens Public Library.

“It’s a good thing for the children,” said Andrea Maddison, a Laurelton parent. “ It’s nice for them to get outside. And they don’t need to be inside running up people’s electric bill.”

The event is among more positive news for Smith, who will be facing charges of bribery, conspiracy and wire fraud after investigators alleged that he conspired to rig the mayoral election with Councilmember Dan Halloran and Queens County Republican Party Vice Chair Vincent Tabone.

“I think what’s so important about giving back is we don’t know who the next star is in this entire group,” Smith said. “Anybody here could be the next president, could be the next LL Cool J. What this does is it shows them and gives them an example that even when you make it you can’t forget where you came from.”

 

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Bill would disperse homeless shelters evenly throughout each borough


| mhayes@queenscourier.com

Queens shelters may soon be finding new homes.

Councilmembers Ruben Wills and Leroy Comrie started work in 2011 on a bill that would disperse homeless shelters evenly throughout each borough. Wills said research revealed that Community Board (CB) 12 contains 10 of the 18 shelters in all of Queens. CB 12 includes Jamaica, Hollis, St. Albans, Springfield Gardens, Baisley Park, Rochdale Village and South Jamaica.

“The DHS [Department of Homeless Services] is clustering all of these shelters,” Wills said. “All of these undesirable land uses are in certain community boards. We perceived that to be a huge problem.”

Under the bill, Wills and Comrie proposed limiting the number of shelters in any community board to one-third of the borough’s total.

Wills said placing shelters in one specific type of community, such as CB 12, is not in response to any increase in the homeless population.

“It is not fair that southeast Queens has the majority of homeless shelters in the borough,” Comrie said.

For the existing shelters, Wills suggested they make relocation plans so they and their residents are prepared to move when any site’s lease expires. He said it was important to put shelters in areas with convenient transportation.

The council pair proposed an additional bill under which the DHS would determine whether any shelter resident is a sex offender. If so, the department would notify the local community board, councilmember and police precinct. The department would also conduct mental health and criminal background assessments on all adults entering shelters. If passed, the bill will go into effect on January 1, 2014.

 

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NYPD officer kills wife, self in St. Albans


| mhayes@queenscourier.com

THE COURIER/Photo by Maggie Hayes

Loris Primus said he heard a woman’s screams before he heard the four gunshots. Roughly two or three minutes later, he said, he heard two more shots.

Primus, 61, of St. Albans lives across the street from police officer Sherlon Smikle, who allegedly shot and killed his wife, Lana Morris, outside of their Camden Avenue home Wednesday evening. He then went inside and fatally shot himself in the head, police said.

“I look outside and I’m seeing this lady face down in the street,” said neighbor Beverly Ellis. “I looked out and I said, ‘That looks like Lana.’”

Ellis, 63, called 9-1-1 after she too heard gunshots and said police swarmed the quiet block shortly after.

Morris worked as a school safety officer and was still in her uniform when she was shot by her husband.

“Her face was down near the sewer. She was not moving,” Ellis said.

Smikle, 33, and Morris, 46, were known by neighbors as “lovely” and “quiet.”

“Things seemed beautiful,” said Sherman Sanders, who lives across the street. “They seemed like the perfect family.”

But despite outward appearances, Ellis said cops showed up at the couple’s door approximately two weeks ago, responding to a domestic violence call. Neighbors said Smikle was asked to leave the home.

“I knew there were some domestic issues, but I didn’t know how serious,” Ellis said.

The couple has one daughter, Lara, 8, who was not home at the time of the shooting.

Neighbors say it was well known that Smikle loved his little girl, and Sanders said he frequently saw her father walk her to school.

“He was crazy about that girl, she looked just like him,” said Ellis.

Before things went awry, Smikle and Morris were also frequently seen working together on their garden in the front yard.

“You never know what’s going on inside closed doors in people’s homes,” Sanders said.

 

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Constituents, community leaders react to Smith, Halloran arrest


| tcullen@queenscourier.com

File photos

Those represented by State Senator Malcolm Smith and those by Councilmember Dan Halloran are weighing in on the scandal that alleges the two tried to rig the upcoming mayoral election.

Despite the charges, Smith’s neighbors in St. Albans called the senator a morally sound leader.

“I’ve known the family for years, and they’ve always been good to me,” said a friend, who did not want to be named. “As a neighbor, he’s treated me well and that’s all I know.”

Constituent India Holloway said Smith is held to a higher standard.

“He’s a senator, he knows what’s right,” she said. “He’s supposed to be an upstanding citizen. He represents all of us. What’s right is right and what’s wrong is wrong, and he should uphold that.”

Residents of northeast Queens, which Halloran represents a bulk of, have mixed reactions to the charges against the councilmember.

Malba Civic Association President Alfredo Centola said he wanted the Queens GOP to push for a Republican candidate to challenge Halloran in a primary for the upcoming District 19 election. Regardless of the charges, Centola, a registered Republican, said he didn’t think the councilmember should drop out of the race.

“I believe in the innocent until proven guilty,” Centola said. “I don’t think [Halloran dropping out] is a fair request at this point. But the GOP needs to save face.”

Smith was elected president of the State Senate in 2010, when the Democrats took the majority of the Chamber for the first time in nearly 45 years. As president, and without a Lieutenant Governor in New York at the time, Smith was in a position to take over the state, had anything happened to then-Governor David Paterson.

The Republican Minority ended up leading a coup to take over the Senate in 2009 when it recruited two freshman Democratic senators, Hiram Monserrate and Pedro Espada, Jr., to switch allegiances. Smith was able to retain power, however, by forcing the two renegades back to their side of the aisle.

In an ironic twist, Smith announced last year that he would join the Independent Democratic Conference (IDC) and effectively helped put a tandem leadership in between the IDC and Republicans.

Now that Smith has been stripped of his IDC roles, a Senate colleague said it would be easier to get legislation on the floor, but, under a tougher Republican leadership, passing issues such as campaign finance reform and reproductive rights would be harder.

Reverend Floyd Flake, senior pastor of the Greater Allen A. M. E. Cathedral of New York and a former congressmember, who helped launch Smith’s political career, said he was surprised when he heard the news.
“[I was] more than shocked I think,” said Flake.

The former lawmaker added he’s placed several calls to Smith’s home since the arrest and is still waiting to hear back from the embattled senator.

Halloran, who was believed to have been a former cop, but was only a cadet, made an unsuccessful bid as a Republican for the newly-drawn Congressional District 6, but ultimately lost to now-Congressmember Grace Meng.

During his tenure, Halloran made waves in his first year by accusing the Department of Sanitation of a work slowdown during the 2010 Blizzard that crippled the city for days. An inquiry by the Department of Investigation, however, turned up no organized slowdown of work.

Halloran, reportedly facing financial difficulties because of his 2010 divorce, his mortgage and a 2005 promissory note to the woman from whom he bought his house, has been endorsed for his re-election by several fire and police unions, including the Police Captains Endowment Association (PCEA). Roy Richter, president of PCEA, said the union hasn’t decided whether or not to revoke its backing.

— With Additional Reporting by Maggie Hayes

 

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Queens officer Philip Banks named as NYPD’s new Chief of Department


| mhayes@queenscourier.com

Photo courtesy of NYPD

A Queens officer has risen in the ranks of the NYPD, and has found himself at the very top.

Philip Banks of St. Albans was appointed as the Police Department’s new Chief of Department. The 26-year veteran and current Chief of Community Affairs was officially installed as the NYPD’s highest ranking uniformed officer at a promotion ceremony on Thursday, March 28 at police headquarters, following the retirement of former Chief Joseph Esposito.

“Banks has proven himself time and time again to be as outstanding a field commander, adept in managing police personnel and operations, as he has a consummate builder of community relations,” said Police Commissioner Raymond Kelly.

Kelly also noted that programs such as the New-Immigrant Outreach and Crime Prevention as well as School Safety and Juvenile Justice Divisions have flourished under Banks’ command. As Chief of Department, Banks will be responsible for all police operations.

Banks became a member of the NYPD in 1986, and began his career on patrol in the 81st Precinct. He rose in the ranks from sergeant all the way to assistant chief over the course of two decades, and has served in precincts in both Manhattan and Brooklyn.

In 2010, Banks was appointed Chief of Community Affairs. Before his appointment, he served as Commanding Officer of Patrol Borough Manhattan North and also commanded the 79th, 81st and Central Park Precincts. He also served as Executive Officer of Patrol Borough Brooklyn South and of the 73rd Precinct.

Before beginning his police career, Banks received a bachelor of science degree in business administration from Lincoln University. He graduated in 2001 from the Police Management Institution at Columbia University, and also completed advanced management training as well as an executive leaders program in counterterrorism at the Naval Postgraduate School, Center for Homeland Defense and Security.

As a member of the NYPD, Banks is following in the footsteps of his father, who is a retired lieutenant. His positions included co-director of the Police Commissioner’s security detail, executive officer in the Bias Crime Unit and commanding officer of the Recruitment Section.

 

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Panel votes to phase out two Queens schools, may still truncate third


| ctumola@queenscourier.com

PS-156-5w

The Panel for Educational Policy voted early Tuesday morning to close two New York City public schools and phase out 22 more, including two Queens high schools, according to reports.

The Law, Government and Community Service High School, and the Business, Computer Applications & Entrepreneurship High School, both in Cambria Heights, will be phased out.

The phase out of another Queens school, P.S. 140 Edward K. Ellington, was withdrawn last month,  but the fate of another school in the borough still needs to be decided.

On March 20, the panel will vote on the truncation of  P.S. 156 Laurelton, which will eliminate its middle school.

 

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Queens gang members sentenced to 50 years for shooting death of 13-year-old


| ctumola@queenscourier.com

After killing a 13-year-old boy and injuring another innocent bystander during a rival street gang shooting in Queens, two Crips members have each been sentenced to 50 years in prison, Queens District Attorney Richard Brown announced.

“Without the slightest regard for human life, the defendants recklessly turned the streets of Queens County into a deadly battleground that claimed the life of an innocent young student walking home from school and wounded a second hard-working teenager, said Brown. “The lengthy prison sentence imposed today is more than justified and sends a strong message to others who might think of resorting to gunfire to settle disputes.”

Gregory Calas, 21, of St. Albans, and Nnonso Ekwegbalu, 19, of Springfield Gardens, were convicted last November of first-degree manslaughter for the death of Kevin Miller.

According to the district attorney, on the afternoon of October 2, 2009, Miller was killed when a bullet struck him during a shootout between members of the Bloods and Crips. Pedro Garcia, 17, who was working at a corner car wash, was also shot in the leg. Both teens were not involved in the altercation or members of the gangs.

Queens schools may be phased out


| mhayes@queenscourier.com

File photo

For months, the Department of Education (DOE) had been evaluating city schools’ progress reports, noting those that were in danger of closing. The process is continuing, and now several Queens schools could possibly be phased out.

This process, which eliminates one grade at a time from the troubled schools, will be finalized after a vote this coming March. Public School 140 in Jamaica; Law, Government and Community Service High School in Jamaica; and the Business, Computer Applications & Entrepreneurship High School in St. Albans are all on the chopping block. P.S. 156 in Laurelton faces a possible truncation, which will eliminate its middle school.

“We expect success,” said DOE Deputy Chancellor Marc Sternberg. “Ultimately, we know we can better serve our students and families with new options and a new start.”

However, the community is not taking the news lying down.

“I will continue to press the administration to keep these schools open,” said Councilmember Leroy Comrie. “Many people at these schools work extremely hard to give their students the best education possible, but the city makes their jobs much harder by not allocating the proper resources and ignoring community input.”

Sternberg countered this claim, saying that the DOE has listened to the community and provided support services to the low-performing schools based on their needs, but it is time to take action.

However, Comrie said the city standards used to measure schools are “confusing, arbitrary, and hindering, rather than helping, to improve the education system.”

The Law, Government and Community Service High School in particular was one school with a good reputation, and according to Comrie, was asked by the DOE to take in more students. However, while they took in the additional students, they were not given the extra resources needed to accommodate them.

Citywide, 22 schools are facing phase-outs, two are looking at possible closure, and two more could be truncated.

Previously, J.H.S. 008, I.S. 059 and Flushing High School faced closure, but have since passed the DOE standards and will remain open.

“We expect every school to deliver for our students, and are working hard to offer families more high performing choices,” said Sternberg.
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