Cop Shot on Jamaica Ave, Search Underway for Perp



A 22-year-old rookie cop was shot in the right hip near 161st St. along Jamaica Avenue Wednesday.

Police are asking for the public’s help in finding the perpetrator, who remains on the loose. There is a $10,000 reward for any information. The individual has a tattoo of the name “Jocelyn” on his left hand, police say.

A press conference was held at Jamaica Hospital — where the officer was in the operating room at around 6 p.m. according to doctors —  later on Wednesday to update the public on the incident. A surveillance photo of a suspect accused of shooting an NYPD officer.

At approximately 3:20 p.m., an MTA bus driver traveling eastbound on Jamaica Avenue called for two police officers assigned to the 103rd Precinct field training unit, NYPD Chief of Detectives James Essig shared at the press conference.

“He was where our communities tells us they want their officers to be, standing a foot post,” said NYPD Commissioner Keechant L. Sewell.

The bus driver told the officers that a dispute had emerged between two men over a seat. When they approached the bus, a man exited through the front door and a “slight struggle ensued,” said Essig.

The man, who was wearing a black bubble jacket, black mask and orange sweatshirt pushed the officers and attempted to flee northbound on 161st Street, according to Essig.

One officer managed to catch up to the man, who fired one shot into his right hip  after a brief struggle.

The other police officer returned fire two times. Recovered shell casings from the crime scene reinforce this information. It is undetermined whether the perpetrator was struck.

A surveillance photo of a suspect accused of shooting an NYPD officer. The shell casing from the perpetrators’ weapon was recovered as well. As of 7:30 p.m., the caliber of the gun has yet to be determined.

The perpetrator then fled to a parking garage, where NYPD found the mask, jacket and orange sweatshirt. He was caught on video surveillance leaving the parking garage in a white t-shirt.

Patrick Lynch, head of the NYPD’s Police Benevolent Association union, expressed that he was concerned for both the environment that police officers work in and the environment that the community has to live in.

“While [the perpetrator] was running from police officers and shooting at police officers, there were children along that shopping corridor,” Lynch said. “There were people that were just going about their life… They had no regard for those people. ”

He then applauded those members of the community, who stopped and helped the police officer.

“When you can display a weapon over a dispute on the bus, that says a lot,” said Mayor Eric Adams at the press conference.

Today marked the cop’s third month as a member of the 103rd Precinct. He was appointed to the police department in July 2022, and to the 103rd Precinct in January. The injured officer was not identified at the press conference.

The partner of the shot officer has been with the NYPD for less than a year. His lack of hesitancy in helping his fellow officer was thanked by Sewell.

The officer’s father is a NYPD detective in Brooklyn.

“New Yorkers — you are our force multiplier. We are going to need your assistance in identifying and apprehending this offender,” Sewell said.

Anyone with any information in regard to this incident, contact 800-COPSHOT or @NYPDTips on Twitter.

In Our Opinion: Council’s Response to Budget is Right Move

On Monday April 3, the New York City Council released a response to the Mayor’s preliminary budget which called on the Mayor to reinstall cuts to essential city programs proposed in his preliminary budget– like libraries, education and affordable housing.

Budgets are a tie between moral documents stating what is a city’s priority and what is possible, but a budget that doesn’t invest in New Yorkers – including critical services such as libraries and education – should be a non-starter.

The council identified at least $2.7 billion in funds that could be used this year for which they want to spend $1.3 billion to reverse budget cuts and use the remaining $1.4 billion to put into reserves.

Members of the council rightfully caught flack last year for green-lighting the Mayor’s budget which cut education spending and it seems they have learned their lessons, by coming out with an alternative framework that centers crucial investments rather than austerity.

The city is in dire need. We have casscading crises — from the affordability crisis, the housing crisis, the migrant crisis —

The city is in dire need. We have cascading crises – from the affordability crisis, the housing crisis and  the migrant crisis – but slashing the budget to take away basic services is a move that will only weaken the city further and increase misery and hardship on working class families across the city.

Remaining Outdoor Dining Sheds ‘Eyesore’ to Some Residents

By Iryna Shkurhan | [email protected]

What started off as a lifeline for restaurants during the pandemic is now becoming a nuisance for residents and businesses alike. 

Under the Open Restaurants program, 12,000 outdoor dining permits were issued by the NYC Department of Transportation (DOT) which allowed restaurants to construct and place structures on the streets, given they follow some guidelines.  

Even the simple sheds, generally constructed with plywood and nails, cost several thousand dollars and required even more in maintenance costs, according to restaurant owners that spoke with the Queens Ledger. The more extravagant structures, built with sturdy materials and decorated to the nines could climb over tens of thousands of dollars. 

Some community members complain that sheds are falling apart after not being utilized or maintained, creating eyesores for the neighborhood. But the steep cost involved in maintaining these structures, combined with overall rising costs of food and other necessities, is posing a challenge for businesses. 

The DOT says that “The City is committed to retaining the temporary program until the permanent program is in place,” according to their website that was updated in March. No further timeline on a permanent open restaurants plan that is currently “in development” has been unveiled. 

“Some of the sheds that are out there now are ugly and just an eyesore,” said Theodore Renz, a Queens Community Board 5 member. “I hope that the criteria that they come up with is something that is aesthetically pleasing to the community, and at the same time is cost effective for the restaurant.” 

Some restaurants said that given the opportunity, they will keep their dining sheds up permanently. Especially for businesses with limited indoor space, an outdoor area can be crucial for servicing more customers and providing them with other options. 

“It really, really, really helped our business. I don’t know if we could have survived without it,” said Jackie Gorzelnik, the owner of Plein Air cafe in Ridgewood on the impact of outdoor dining when her business opened during the pandemic.

“It’s not fancy. It’s very utility. And to maintain it, it’s just like a coat of paint here and there,” said Gorzelnik, who reported that the outdoor structure cost a couple thousand dollars to build, and another couple thousand for a rebuild. 

While she says that issues such as graffiti and rodents entering the space occasionally arise, the benefits of having more space outweigh the negatives. 

The owners of While in Kathmandu, a Nepali restaurant in Ridgewood, dealt with the same issues when they had their shed up. They also struggled to deal with noncustomers who would congregate in the shed and utilize free electricity. Loiterers did not leave the space better than they found it. 

Bikash Kharel, the manager and co-owner, says they took down their outdoor dining hut on the sidewalk two months ago because they felt it was no longer necessary, especially since they have a backyard. But they said that the removal process was just as difficult, and costly, as the installation. 

“I did start noticing that it was falling apart in some ways because it was not utilized every single day. It was not taken care of in the best possible way,” said Kharel.

During a DOT inspection, the department inquired about whether the structure was still being utilized and offered to remove it within a week if it wasn’t being used anymore. After Kharel agreed, his team began to dismantle the shed and removed the roof and lights in preparation. But four weeks later, the DOT still had not arrived to complete the removal. 

“I finally got to speak with somebody and they told me that we are on the line to be processed for it but it’s not going to be anytime soon. Maybe two or three months,” recalled Kharel. “So that left us in a limbo. Do we wait for the city to come to do it or do we experience a hazardous situation where something might happen.”

With the aesthetic of the restaurant in mind and a half broken shed out front, they decided to proceed and dispose of the entire structure themselves. With the cost of labor and rental equipment combined, the total price of removal exceeded a thousand dollars. 

“But this is all about the socio-economics of the restaurant,” said Kharel. “The more upscale places have been able to maintain really nice beautiful looking locations versus restaurants that are not in the same demographic. They’re making that kind of money to spend that kind of money.”

One Ridgewood business owner with an outdoor structure, who wants to retain anonymity, says that their neighbor’s hut is an eyesore for the block. They complained that a lack of maintenance and adherence to code is spilling over into their hut, that is meticulously maintained and invested in. 

They also complained that the neighboring business owners do not discourage non paying  individuals from using the space to sit and smoke, which is not allowed under DOT guidelines. 

“By participating in the program, you are taking responsibility for maintaining the cleanliness of the roadway curb space in front of your business,” reads the DOT guidelines. “Smoking and electronic cigarette use is not allowed in outdoor dining areas.”

According to the DOT, inspectors will make both proactive and complaint-driven visits to restaurants part of the program. Typically they do not require interaction with the business owner. 

“I would say it is a responsibility of the business owner to maintain the structures and make them clean and rodent proof,” said Gorzelnik. “That’s our responsibility. That’s not on the city.”

Without significant snowfall this past winter, many sheds remained outside for longer than ever. The wear and tear is showing on many, especially when graffiti is also present. 


Pol Position: Jamaica Estates Man Indicted

Indicted! Or as Trump erroneously said it on his social media platform Truth Social, “Indicated.”

After multiple investigations, Donald Trump has become the first U.S. president to become charged with a crime. Last week, a grand jury indicted the 45th president and former Jamaica Estates resident on charges from the Manhattan District Attorney’s office reportedly relating to alleged hush payments to cover up an affair with porn star Stormy Daniels.

On Tuesday April 4, Trump is expected to turn himself in and be arraigned but will most likely be held without bail.

While Trump has been indicted, critics of the 45th president should be wary of the overall usefulness of the charges. If the former president isn’t convicted, the charges will only play to drive out his base both in the primary and general election as it seemingly will fit into Trump’s narrative of political persecution.

Many Trump supporters and political supporters have actually been happy about the indictment, knowing how they will be able to campaign off of the charges heading into the 2024 season.

When the Mueller investigation failed, Trump was bolstered by his supporters and was able to double down on his message of personal political persecution.

Alvin Bragg had a difficult decision in moving forward with the charges. If successful, it will certainly raise his profile to the national stage but if it fails, the case will reek of an over zealous prosecutor.

There are still several other investigations into Trump: ranging from the national level, to the state of Georgia and civil litigation against him in New York State.

Porcelli: The Other Side of Education (4/5)

CTE Shop Class: Now It’s High-Tech

Modern CTE is Amazing

The New York International Auto Show opens this week at the Javits Center. What does a show displaying the latest in wheeled vehicles have to do with Career & Technical Education?

Tour the show with that question in mind, and you’ll understand that CTE is the key to what schools will need to teach future generations of students, to keep all the new gadgets and high technology on the show floor working.

The show’s theme this year is – Be Amazed. By that, I suppose the show’s producers intended that you’ll be really impressed by car makers’ latest automotive engineering and styling. But there is more at the show that you should find not only amazing, but also fascinating and disturbing. As in previous years, the wide variety of colors and styles offered by all the manufacturers is most remarkable.

But the shiny surfaces of those vehicles conceal some of the most advanced technology on earth. Cars today are composed of amazing, space-age materials, interconnected and propelled by highly sophisticated engineering that was not even imagined in the early days of NASA.

How is all this technology-on-wheels related to the mission of this column? Consider this: the vehicles at the show were designed, built, transported, and put on display by people with skills they learned in Career & Technical Education programs that have sadly been defunded and disbanded.

More significantly, as you visit each manufacturer’s display, and listen to their product specialists tout the impressive features of their amazing vehicles, particularly the electric and autonomous models, think about this: Who is going to maintain and repair all this new technology? Where will we find the technicians to keep this amazing new technology working, without new CTE programs?

That’s the question I ask the experts each year at the World Traffic Safety Symposium, taking place at Javits the day before the car show opens. It’s also the reason I teach technicians, advocate for more trade education everywhere – for every trade, and the purpose of this column.

With that in mind, as you tour the car show this year, don’t just look at the cars and the attractive models, also be on the lookout for two things central to this column each week – training and employment opportunities.

Some of the displays will feature classes on new electric vehicles and charging systems. Take advantage of these classes before buying an EV.

There will also be at least one automotive trade school offering training for vehicle technicians. Training that can lead to rewarding, profitable, and amazing careers servicing the vehicles on display.

In addition, several City and State agencies will be recruiting workers needed to maintain their fleets. Car dealers and manufacturers may also be offering employment opportunities in their organizations. More amazing careers can be found there.

Bottom Line: As the slogan says, BE AMAZED – by everything at the show. Then, demand our schools offer more AMAZING CTE PROGRAMS!


CTE is Respectable Again!

Academic & Trade Education are Two Sides of a Coin.

This column explores the impact of CTE programs on students, society, and the economy.

Mike Porcelli: life-long mechanic, adjunct professor, and host of Autolab Radio, is committed to restoring trade education in schools before it’s too late. 

State’s First Woman-Owned Marijuana Dispensary Opens in Jamaica

Customers chose from a variety of strains all grown locally by New York’s farmers.

By Iryna Shkurhan | [email protected]

With a line of eager customers stretched around the block, the first legal adult-use cannabis dispensary in Queens opened its doors on Thursday afternoon. 

Good Grades, located on the corner of Jamaica Ave and 162 St., is a woman-owned recreational marijuana business — the first of its kind in the state and city. The owners were selected as some of the first applicants to receive a retail license in an attempt to counter the detrimental effects of cannabis prohibition that their family experienced firsthand. 

This marks a new beginning for co-owners, Extasy James and her cousin Michael James, Jr., a Jamaica, Queens native. Extasy’s father was deported to Jamaica when she was three- years-old following a cannabis-related criminal conviction. Being the eldest daughter of four children, she says that the responsibility of carrying her family forward fell on her shoulders. 

“I think the city is giving families a second chance and as African Americans, we’ve been targeted the most,” said Extasy, who was born and raised in the Bronx, during the grand opening. 

The store will remain open for 30 days as a “pop-up” shop and then close for final construction. The location will reopen permanently by the end of the year. In the meantime, various strains of flower, prerolls and edibles are available for purchase. 

“This new endeavor is a significant milestone for our family, hometown and women in New York,” said James, Jr. who is also an attorney that works with minority small business owners. 

A Conditional Adult-Use Retail Dispensary (CAURD) license is designated for business owners that were implicated, or had a close family member impacted, by the long-standing criminalization of cannabis. By giving justice-involved owners priority in receiving the first retail licenses, the state hopes to build an equitable foundation for its novel legal marijuana industry. 

“​​I think this has been a long time coming for Queens,” said John Panella, 73, who has been smoking marijuana since he was 16-years old. He was one of the first customers on line, arriving an hour before the store opened. “They seem to be opening up cannabis places in New York City at a snail’s pace.”

Several waiting customers expressed that obtaining weed in the city prior to legalization was never difficult. But without governmental regulation, customers worried about the source of the plant and whether harmful chemicals, pesticides, or even fentanyl were in the mix. 

Ming Gaffney, a 33-year old Hollis resident, said that she doesn’t mind paying a higher price for products if it brings her peace of mind knowing where they came from. She was also proud to support a woman owned business. 

“With the opening of Good Grades in Queens, we’re continuing to build on our progress to create a safe, regulated cannabis industry in New York,” said Governor Kathy Hochul.

All legal dispensaries in the state will only sell products that are cultivated by New York’s farmers within the state. Flowerhouse, cultivated in upstate Walden, NY, is one company whose flower products are sold at Good Grades.  

Since legalization hit the state, a wave of smoke shops that also sell cannabis products without a license have popped up across the city. At the end of January, the Sheriff’s office raided three smoke shops in Queens, two in Whitestone, and confiscated millions of dollars in products. 

In neighboring Richmond Hill, a 20-year-old employee at Plug Smoke Shop was shot and killed during a daytime robbery last month. The store was open for less than a year.

Extasy declined to comment on the unlicensed sale of marijuana in neighboring smoke shops. Instead, she wanted to focus on how the legalized route can serve as an inspiration for the community.

“I want everybody to know that you can have a second chance, if your family or anybody else was wrongly convicted or jailed, you can reunite your family and you can make something of yourself,” she said.


Gamelan Dharma Swara to Perform ‘Springtime Super Nova’ in Ridgewood

By Stephanie Meditz

[email protected]

Ridgewood-based performing arts ensemble Gamelan Dharma Swara will present traditional music and dance from the Indonesian island of Bali to ring in the spring season with a bang.

On April 15 at 7 p.m, they will perform traditional Balinese gamelan music and dance in their “Springtime Super Nova” at Ridgewood Presbyterian Church’s Stone Circle Theatre.

Balinese gamelan is a type of music characterized by quick tempo shifts and melodic sounds produced by percussion instruments.

“They call this traditional ensemble Balinese gong kebyar,” president Victoria Lo Mellin said. “Kebyar is a term that means kind of like a flowering, a blossoming or an explosion.”

Gamelan famously uses metallophones, or bronze-keyed, intricately carved instruments, as well as several drums, gongs and sulings, or bamboo flutes.

“One of the things that gives gamelan that intrinsic sound is the fact that all of the instruments are tuned in pairs, and they’re tuned slightly apart from each other so it creates this wavelike sound in the air, which is a symbol of the spirits inhabiting the instruments,” she said.

The group will perform three full ensemble works —  two dances and one instrumental piece.

One of the dances will depict the fierceness of a warrior, and the other is about ideal qualities in a king. 

“What I really love about our presentation is that our dancers are female, and it’s kind of subverting this idea of gender identity and really putting this new feminine strength behind those gendered dances,” Lo Mellin said.

The dancers’ colorful costumes and makeup take between four and five hours to put on.

“An audience can expect to see what that dynamic, classic sense of what Balinese gamelan would mean for any person who were to come across it for the first time, even in Bali, those traditional dances that really give Balinese gamelan its characteristic sound, characteristic visual,” she said.

Founded in 1989, Gamelan Dharma Swara is a community-based ensemble, meaning that it consists of members who may not have played instruments or visited Bali previously.


Gamelan music has a very dynamic sound, and is played mostly with percussion instruments.
Photo via

The group meets once a week to learn and eventually perform Balinese arts for the community.

Some members have over thirty years’ experience performing with the group, and others have only joined within the last six months.

Mellin has performed gamelan for over fifteen years, and she has been Gamelan Dharma Swara’s president for seven years.

She got her start in Gamelan Galak Tika, a group based in the Massachusetts Institute of Technology.

“I had found gamelan as just a part of my individual study and loved sitting in on rehearsals so much that I wanted Lo Mto learn what it was all about,” she said.

She played the bamboo flute for many years, but she has since picked up several instruments.

Lo Mellin now plays the ugal for Gamelan Dharma Swara, a metallophone that essentially leads the ensemble.

The group performed for the first time since the COVID-19 pandemic as part of the New York Philharmonic’s Nightcap series on March 18.

In 2010, they were the first Western group to be invited to the Bali Arts Festival as part of their gong kebyar competition.

Gamelan Dharma Swara is currently in residence at Ridgewood Presbyterian Church, and they have been based in Ridgewood since September.

“I think one of the biggest things for this ensemble and one of my goals for this particular performance is to really start integrating the ensemble into the local arts ecology,” she said. “As a resident in Ridgewood myself, it’s the first time in my life where I’m really in touch with small business owners. I run into people every single day where I know the people’s first name. I really wanted to feel as though the community ensemble had that same feel, could really integrate itself into the community. Because I think it’s important the community understands what we’re trying to bring to their neighborhood as well.”

Gamelan is integral to daily life in Bali, and she hopes to break down artistic barriers in the Ridgewood community as well. 

To accomplish this, Gamelan Dharma Swara offers two interactive public workshops per year in which the ensemble explains the way the music is structured.

By the end of each workshop, the group can play a few short pieces that demonstrate some key tenets of gamelan music.

“I think gamelan is such an interesting conduit for community members to find their own artistry…it’s really important for people to feel like, as a community member, they have that kind of potential, that they have a wellspring of creativity,” Lo Mellin said. “We’re offering an alternative culture to find that latent talent. I think everybody has a part that they can bring to the table, and they can challenge themselves to be a performer, and within a very very short period of time.”

The next workshop will take place on April 30 at Ridgewood Presbyterian Church.

The performance will consist of two sets, the first of which will feature Concetta Abbate’s ensemble.

Abbate’s contemporary classical music has a lyrical, narrative quality, which will contrast gamelan’s explosive, dynamic style.

“Through gamelan, you meet a lot of interesting people, and gamelan sort of has been an important part of my communal and social network. I met Concetta through somebody who used to perform in the gamelan,” Lo Mellin said. “The fact that we’re able to bring so many local creative cohorts…into one singular place, I think it’s going to be really exciting.”

Tickets for Gamelan Dharma Swara’s Springtime Super Nova are available for $25 at or for $30 at the door.

“Gamelan is an important interwoven experience in the daily culture of somebody who is Balinese. Gamelan is really integrated into the daily life, and I want the community to feel as though gamelan has a place in that community.”

Old Friends and Budding Mediums Converge at ‘Psychic Night Dinners’ in Maspeth

By Adam Manno

[email protected]

At the end of a long table, past the Coke carafes and sweetener packets, Arnie Layton sits with his hands clasped in front of him.

The retired IT worker isn’t new to the Psychic Night Dinners at Connolly’s Corner, a red-upholstered-booth eatery in Maspeth. But on Thursday night, he was on a mission.

“Pretty much, I wanna know when my psychic abilities will totally come out,” he said. The monthly outing is just about the only place he feels comfortable exploring his budding talent. “You talk to the average person about some of this stuff, being empathic, they think you’re crazy,” he said.

Arnie Layton, a retired IT worker at Thursday’s Event.

Few people at Connolly’s that Thursday, save for maybe the regulars at the bar, would agree.

“It was absolutely phenomenal,” Mary Ann Gasparro said of her 15-minute turn at the psychic’s booth. “I had an absolutely dead-on accurate reading tonight.”

She’s skeptical about any claims of supernatural abilities. But if Thursday’s reading was any indication, she’s turning into a true believer. Her friends, sat around her and rapt by the re-telling of her reading, already are.

“I grew up in a very abusive childhood. And tonight the psychic was saying, ‘I don’t understand why there’s apologies all around. There’s a male figure, has your father passed?’ I said, ‘Yes.’ She goes, ‘He wants to apologize to you for the way he treated you in this life.’ No one says that! They all say, ‘Your father’s very proud of you, your fathers love you,’” Gasparro said.

Like Layton and Gasparro, many of the night’s guests are regulars at the event, which is run by ESPconnection. For $85 a person (not including tax or tip), diners are guaranteed a three-course meal, non-alcoholic beverages, and a private, one-on-one session with one of the five psychics on deck that night.

Re Jean, the group’s founder, spent the night walking between a side room—where the psychics sit at booths with their tarot cards strewn about—and the private hall behind the main dining area, where the guests sit at tables covered in white tablecloths, anxiously waiting their turn or dishing about their sessions.

Most are looking to hear from someone who’s passed on, Jean said, or if they’re younger, they’re curious about their love lives, careers, families and health. “I think it kind of covers all the big questions,” she added. “The readers try to focus on the big questions.”

And what makes a good reader? For this particular affair, speed.

“These are very short readings. It’s like 12 to 15 minutes, so if you can read quickly and accurately,” she said. “Some readers, they need 45 minutes to cover all they wanna get to. People that do well at events like this are people that can get a good chunk of—I don’t wanna say material—a good chunk of what’s going on with them in a short period of time.”

Jean is a former music teacher and occasional composer whose songs have appeared in shows like Law & Order, Will & Grace, and ER under her real name, Rae Jean Ferreri. These days, she’s busier handling her growing stable of psychics. Asked about the gentleman in the other room wondering when his own powers will blossom, she said, “We get a lot of people that are also very intuitive themselves. We get a lot of psychologists and therapists, we get doctors, you name it. They wanna know! They believe in it!”

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