Tag Archives: unarmed

Francis Lewis High School drill team wins nationals


| mchan@queenscourier.com

Photos courtesy of Patriot Pride

A Queens drill team left high and dry in September has taken back the national title.

Francis Lewis High School’s unarmed team earned an almost perfect score May 6 at the 31st annual National High School Drill Team Championships in Daytona Beach, Florida.

“It brings tears to my eyes thinking back to how hard they worked,” said their coach, retired Sgt. 1st Class Helen Batts. “Their dedication, loyalty and hard work—they poured their hearts into it.”

The annual competition drew more than 50 schools nationwide. Francis Lewis last sat at the top in 2009.

But with six outgoing senior spots to fill, the team took a blow in the fall when four seasoned drillers left and new members began to drop like flies.

“The team was actually suffering,” Batts said. “In September, I did not see a very productive future for them.”

Leaders put their hopes into a batch of bright-eyed rookies. Four freshmen had less than six months to learn and perfect multiple routines and memorize page after page of military facts.

“I looked at them and saw their strength,” Batts recalled. “I said, ‘You are the four.’ They said to me, ‘We’ll be ready next year.’ I said, ‘No, ma’am. You’re going to bring it this year.’ It just took off from there.”

The freshmen found themselves part of a historical victory. A Francis Lewis team had never before landed a national title with that many new members, Batts said.

Co-captain Jasmine Fung said she was fearful at first, but put her effort into training the freshmen.

“We pushed them the hardest, up until the point where they started crying,” she said. “But they really pulled it off. I’m so proud of them.”

Freshman competitor Christi Mahilum said the four fledglings were skyrocketed to a higher standard.
“We were about to give up somewhere in the middle,” said Mahilum, 15. “But it was worth it.”

News of the triumph came as a shock to the now reigning champs, who placed sixth—their lowest rank in years—at a competition in Kentucky last month.

“It was a wake-up call for us to get into shape,” said Fung, 17. “It was like, ‘Hey. It’s time to get your act together.’”
The team regularly clocked 26 hours of practice in a week, including six hours on Saturday. They forced themselves to come in one hour before school each day, Fung said.

Their hunger for a top trophy was satisfied. The Patriot Pride took home the gold by six points.

“I think that the freshmen didn’t pull it off alone,” said freshman Ashley Chan. “But it feels good to be recognized because we were the underdogs of the team.”

Mahilum, now an experienced driller, said she’s excited to finally take a breath—until next season.

“It feels really good to have helped the team get to where we are now,” she said.

 

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Queens DA investigating police shooting of unarmed man on GCP


| brennison@queenscourier.com

THE COURIER/Photo by Terence Cullen

The shooting of an unarmed Army Reservist on the Grand Central Parkway early Thursday morning is being investigated by the Queens District Attorney after a witness said the victim never took his hands of the steering wheel.

Noel Polanco was pulled over by cops at 5:15 a.m. after speeding and swerving on the eastbound Grand Central Parkway and cutting off police vehicles. After being stopped, a pair of uniformed officers stepped out of their cars and flanked the 2012 Honda Fit.

Diane DeFerrari, who was sitting in the passenger seat, told the NY Post they were ordered to put their hands up, but before Polanco had a chance he was shot by Detective Hassan Hamdy.

“There was no time to put your hands up at all,” DeFerrar told the paper, adding Polanco had his hands on the steering wheel when he was shot. “They shot in front of my face. Had I moved an inch, it would probably have been me.”

After being taken to New York Hospital Queens by EMS, Polanco was pronounced dead at 5:58 a.m.

A third passenger, Vanessa Rodriguez, an NYPD officer on modified duty after a shoplifting charge, was also in the car’s backseat.

The three were on their way home from Ice Lounge in Astoria.

No weapon was found in the car, only a power drill under the driver’s side seat.

Those close to him said the Army Reservist never found himself in trouble.

“I never had to worry about him,” Polanco’s mother, Cecilia Reyes, told the Daily News. “He had never been in a precinct in his life. He was in the military and would never do anything to endanger his career. Daily news

The case is being investigated by Internal Affairs and the Queens DA.

This Morning’s Headlines


| jlane@queenscourier.com

Graphic by Jay Lane

Teen Accused Of Vandalizing Queens Playground

The teenager police believe was responsible for vandalizing a playground in Far Rockaway, Queens was arrested Thursday. Allan Swafford, 17, was charged with unauthorized use of a vehicle, criminal mischief and burglary. Much of the new equipment in the new Far Rockaway park was broken. The damage will cost the city tens of thousands of dollars and the June opening might now be delayed. Read More: NY1

 

Queens motels shut down, employees arrested in prostitution sting

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Demonstrators Want Police Officer Arrested For Shooting Unarmed Bronx Teen

A rally was held by a Bronx police precinct Thursday night, as advocates demanded that the police officer who killed unarmed 18-year-old Ramarley Graham last month should be arrested and face criminal charges. Ramarley Graham, 18, was shot last month by Police Officer Richard Haste, who along with several narcotics agents chased the teen into his house on East 229th Street in Wakefield after an alleged drug deal. Read More: NY1

 

NYC stores ready to ditch synthetic pot in wake of state ban

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Deliberations To Begin In Handyman’s Murder Trial

Deliberations are set to begin Friday in the trial of a handyman accused of killing a Manhattan building cleaner and hiding her body in an air-conditioning duct. A lawyer for Joseph Pabon says officials rushed to judgement when they charged Pabon with smothering 46-year-old Eridania Rodriguez in 2009. But during his summation Thursday, the prosecutor in the case argued the evidence proves Pabon’s guilt. Read More: NY1

 

Mega Millions jackpot grows again, reaches $540M

The Mega Millions jackpot just got bigger — $40 million bigger to be exact. The record lottery jackpot climbed to a staggering $540 million this afternoon, officials said. Since Tuesday’s drawing, when no winning tickets were sold, the jackpot has grown twice — from $363 million to $500 million to $540 amount. The $500 million was already the largest in history for a multistate game. Read More: New York Post

New security plan in works for problem-plagued Village McD’s

The owner of the problem-plagued Greenwich Village McDonald’s met last night with police brass and political reps to hash out plans to improve safety and security, The Post has learned. Some of the ideas floated were the hiring of off-duty NYPD officers to act as guards, giving police remote Internet access to the eatery’s surveillance cameras, and cordoning off seating after a certain hour to prevent customers from lingering, Deputy Inspector Brandon del Pozo of the Sixth Precinct told concerned residents at a community meeting. Read More: New York Post

Teen survives five-story elevator fall at Bronx apartment

A teen miraculously survived a five-story plunge inside a broken elevator at a Bronx apartment building last night, authorities and witnesses said. Kenneth Lacen, 17, had boarded the elevator on the fifth floor of the building on Woodycrest Avenue near Yankee Stadium at around 9 p.m. when it suddenly went into a terrifying free fall and crashed in the basement, authorities and witnesses told The Post. Read More: New York Post

Spike Lee settles for retweeting wrong address

An elderly couple has reached a settlement with Spike Lee after the pair said they had to leave their Florida home after the director help spread a Twitter posting listing their address as that of the man who shot an unarmed teen. The couple’s attorney, Matt Morgan, announced the settlement Thursday. Morgan says Lee called them to apologize for retweeting their address. Specifics of the settlement weren’t disclosed. Read More: New York Post

Francis Lewis drills the competition


| smosco@queenscourier.com

Photos Courtesy of Francis Lewis High School

Francis Lewis High School stood at attention and swept the New York City Drill Competition, defeating opponents from schools throughout the five boroughs and Long Island on February 11.

The school faced off and was victorious against Xavier, Theodore Roosevelt, Long Island City, Uniondale, Morris, Wyandanch and Fort Hamilton High Schools in both armed and unarmed divisions.

With four different events, the competition was fierce. The schools took on each other in inspection, color guard, regulation drill and exhibition drill.

Francis Lewis’ two teams, the armed Patriot Guard and the unarmed Patriot Pride, both performed perfectly with the colors standing proudly.

The Armed Inspection platoon came soon after all of the color guard performances were completed. This was similar to the Unarmed Inspection platoon, except for the fact that each cadet had a rifle and had to know rifle commands. In the afternoon, Patriot Guard and Patriot Pride showed off their perfect drill movements, with each movement very sharp and in sync.

Patriot Pride rocked the floors with their sharp, synchronized movements as Patriot Guard spun and banged the floors with their rifles loudly and proudly, making each difficult movement seem simple.  Both Patriot Guard and Patriot Pride swept the board and took 1st place.