Man Indicted for Attempted Murder of Cop in Jamaica

By Alicia Venter

[email protected]

 

A man has been indicted for the attempted murder of a police officer in a shooting on Jamaica Avenue on April 5.

Devin Spraggins, 22 of Jamaica, allegedly shot rookie officer Brett Boller as he fled him and his partner, officer Anthony Rock. Both officers are 22 years old.

He is facing two counts of attempted murder in the first degree, among other charges, the Queens District Attorney’s Office announced on May 3. He faces up to 40 years to life in prison for each charge of attempted murder if convicted.

The charges claim that prior to the shooting, Spraggins punched a fellow passenger on a bus driving down Jamaica Avenue near 160th St. at around 3:20 p.m. on April 5. The officers were flagged down by the bus driver for assistance, and as they tried to speak to Spraggins, he pushed Rock and fled. In the chase that followed, Spraggins allegedly turned back, firing at both officers and hitting Boller in the leg.

After shooting Boller, Spraggins ran into a parking garage, and was caught on video surveillance removing his black jacket and sweatshirt, fleeing in a white T-shirt. Security camera footage caught Spraggins entered a black Nissan later identified as a Lyft vehicle, at 161st and Hillside Avenue.

He was taken to his a residence on 215st Street in Jamaica, where a search warrant the next day. The discovery of evidence led law enforcement to Spraggins’ Bronx home, and he was arrested at that location.

Spraggins was taken to Jamaica Hospital following the shooting, where he underwent surgery.

“The brazen shooting of a police officer in broad daylight will not go unanswered,” said Queens District Attorney Melinda Katz in a statement. I want to thank the staff from my office that assisted in the investigation with the NYPD and federal law enforcement to quickly apprehend the defendant. We will not let up in our efforts to get guns off the street and keep our officers and communities safe.”

Alongside the two charges of first degree attempted murder, Spraggins also faces two counts of attempted murder in the second degree; two counts of assault in the first degree; assault of a police officer; attempted assault in the first degree; two counts of criminal possession of a weapon in the second degree; menacing a police officer; two counts of tampering with physical evidence; obstructing governmental administration in the second degree; and assault in the third degree.”

This investigation was conducted by the NYPD and the US Marshals Fugitive Task Force.

5 Community Fridges For Giving and Taking

The NYC Community Fridge Mapping project features 136 fridges across the city and allows anyone to post an update with a look inside the fridge.

By Iryna Shkurhan[email protected] 

In an effort to address food insecurity during the pandemic, community fridges started by regular New Yorkers popped up across the city. Oftentimes they are regular fridges, colorfully decorated, that sit on the sidewalk. Anyone can open the door and take what they need, no questions asked. And If your circumstances permit, you are welcome to leave quality food items for others. 

The fridge movement is based on the concept of mutual aid, which rejects charity and encourages building interdependent relationships outside of power structures. It is powered through cooperation and the responsibility to take care of your neighbors. 

Currently there are 136 community fridges across the city, according to the NYC Community Fridge Mapping project which tracks their location and status. The site allows visitors to post photos and updates on the contents of a fridge to keep fridge users informed. Fridgekeepers can also add a new fridge or update the status of an existing one. 

There are several fridges that closed operations in the past several months due to various circumstances. But these five locations across Queens are still up and running. 

Fenix Community Fridge

Located in Ridgewood, this fridge is run by Beatriz Perez who started the project in the beginning of the pandemic. At the time, she was working at Fenix Car Service on Seneca Ave where the fridge is currently located. With the recent influx of Latin American migrants arriving in NYC, organizers at the location stepped up to collect clothes, strollers and other necessary goods on top of their regular food distribution work. They regularly post updates on collections and events. You can find them on Facebook at @FenixCFridge. 

Astoria Halal Fridge 

In an effort to accommodate Astoria’s Muslim residents, the fridge only accepts food donations that are designed halal. It is located on 3513 23rd Avenue in Astoria, just behind the gates of the Dar Al-Da’awa Mosque. Once a former church, the location is now under the Muslim American Society of Queens. The weekly stocked fridge was an initiative of Little Egypt NYC, a community seeking to create safe spaces and economic power for the Egyptian diaspora. More information can be found on their Instagram @astoriahalalfridge.

Glennon’s Community Fridge

This fridge has been operated by Becky Glennon outside her home in Rockaway since 2020. For the past three years, Glennon has been providing food despite resistance from her neighbors who tried to destroy the fridge. Last week Councilwoman Ariola and her staff delivered over 2,000 pounds of fresh produce, the largest donation the fridge has received so far. It is located on Beach 92nd Street between Rockaway Beach Boulevard and Holland Avenue. 

Ravenswood Community Fridge 

A fridge outside of Hour Children, a nonprofit organization that supports women and families impacted by a mother’s incarceration. It is located near the Ravenswood Houses on 12-14 36th Avenue in Astoria. You can’t miss the colorful fridge with a flying raven and “free food” painted on the door. There is also a space for book donations on the side. Local residents say that the fridge is maintained and utilized regularly. They can be found on Instagram at @ravenswoodfridge for updates. 

Maspeth Fridge

This fridge is located outside of Brothers Wash and Dry, a community space home to music events since the spring of 2019. It is run by Sampson Dahl, who also resides in the former laundromat. More information on the space can be found on his instagram @brotherswashndry or on his website https://sampsondahl.com/.

Melinda Katz: The Outside-Insider

By Matthew Fischetti[email protected]

It was precisely what she was criticized for in her first run for Queens District Attorney, that Melinda Katz believes has been one of her strongest assets: not being a career prosecutor or in law enforcement. 

The former City councilwoman, assemblywoman and Queens borough president believes her work in politics and being a manager made her suited for the role of being the top prosecutor in Queens. 

“I was never a career prosecutor. So when I came in, the whole world changed, I knew the law. I knew I was a good lawyer. And I knew I was a good manager. And so we had to figure out how to think outside the box,” District Attorney Melinda Katz said in a recent sit-down interview with the Queens Ledger. 

Katz said that while the world shut down in her third month in office, she prepared her staff by getting hundreds of computers and prepared her staff to go all virtual.

She said that one of the biggest challenges facing the borough are guns on the street. On her first day in office, she created the Violent Crime Enterprise Bureau by combining the Narcotics Investigations and Gang Violence Bureaus in order to tackle the issue.

“We couldn’t stop. We just had no opportunity to stop. People still had their rights,” said Katz.

The issue of guns has gotten more difficult with the recent proliferation of “ghost guns” — which are untraceable firearms.

“They’re happening in every neighborhood, in every community, all across the borough of Queens County —happening in people’s basements and in their apartments,” she said.

In early April of this year, her office indicted a St. Albans man on over 600 felonies in the state’s first prosecution of an international ghost gun trafficking operation.

Katz said that the proliferation of illegal smoke shops takes time, as investigations by undercover agents have to secure over a pound in order to produce a felony charge, while the Sheriff’s office has more direct authority on the issue.

“We take it, we spend the resources and we do it,” said Katz.

Katz believes one of her strongest assets is knowing the communities she is prosecuting. She has made her Assistant District Attorneys participate in community activities so that they can know the community.

“I believe in my heart of hearts that to be a good prosecutor, you need to know the community.  And that has been priceless, to be honest about it,” Katz said.

“It was a priceless knowledge to know the neighborhoods and know the community, and be able to work in the community, and by the way, have the faith of the community,” she continued.

Katz is currently facing primary challenges from Judge George Grasso, a former NYPD cop turned lawyer who is running on a tough-on-crime approach. Katz is also facing a challenge for Debian Daniels, a public defender.

The primary for the Queens District Attorney Race will occur on June 27 and the general election will occur on November 7.

Councilman Proposes Rich Pay More For Parking Tickets

By Iryna Shkurhan | [email protected]

What if your income determined how much you would pay for a parking ticket in NYC?

South Brooklyn City Councilman Justin Brannan (D), introduced a bill last week that would implement a sliding scale pay structure for civil infractions such as double parking. Low-income New Yorkers would not be obligated to pay the same price as their high-income neighbors under a “day fines” structure.

Currently there is over $2 billion in unpaid tickets that the city is owed, according to the Independent Budget Office (IBO). This includes parking tickets, as well as camera generated violations for speeding, driving in a bus lane and running a red light. Close to a billion of the sum is made up of penalties. 

According to the IBO, the percentage of unpaid tickets has almost tripled in the past five years. In 2017, only ten percent of fines went unpaid. But last year, 29 percent of tickets were unpaid, indicating that the accumulated balance is growing faster than fines per year since the pandemic.

“Why should the guy who double parked his 1988 Toyota pay the same as the guy with the 2024 Bentley?” Brannan told the Daily News. “Fines should be high enough to discourage people from breaking laws that endanger or inconvenience our neighbors but low enough that they don’t arbitrarily upend anyone’s life.”

Brannan’s legislation encourages the Office of Administrative Trials and Hearings to develop and release a pilot program that implements the sliding scale. He did not specify what types of fines should be considered, except for his mention of double parking which currently costs violators $115 per incident. 

While flat-rates are normal in the United States, in several European countries including Germany and Switzerland, much heftier fines are handed out to the wealthy for violations such as speeding or drunk driving.

In 1991, the Bureau of Justice Assistance funded four day fine pilot projects that determined the penalty based on the offenders’ daily income in Arizona, Iowa, Oregon and Connecticut. According to their report, day fines impose fewer system costs and reduce recidivism while also achieving equity in sentencing. 

A spokesman for Mayor Eric Adams said that their office will review the bill. Ultimately, the Mayor’s support is needed for the pilot program to launch and generate findings for elected officials. 

“Hitchhiking” Lanternfly Makes Early Appearance This Spring

Spotted lanternfly sitting on a purple sandcherry. Photo Credit: Unsplash/ Magi Kern

By Iryna Shkurhan[email protected] 

The invasive spotted lanternfly is back for the season. 

In past years the species emerged from their egg masses in May, but this year the State’s Department of Agriculture received reports of sightings in the city in the middle of April. Officials followed up on sighting reports across all boroughs and confirmed their presence in person. 

According to iNaturalist, a website where naturalists can record their observations, there have been several sightings of lanternflies — in Flushing Meadows Corona Park and Queensbridge Park — this past April.

Despite efforts to eradicate them with a public campaign that encouraged residents to kill them on sight, experts anticipate that their population will only continue to grow this year. Lanternflies have been seen at high rates across the boroughs and wider state, but most noticeably in Staten Island where they were first spotted in the state in July 2020. 

“The public in their ability to recognize spotted lanternfly, and in their willingness to report it to us, has really been crucial in our ability to keep track of where this is,” said Chris Logue, Markets Director for the Plant Industry at the New York State Department of Agriculture in a Zoom address to media on April 26. 

In a destructive nature, the species feeds on over 70 species of plants, including crops that are critical to New York’s agricultural economy, such as grapevine, apple trees and hops. New York State is ranked third place for grape production in the country and second in apple production, according to USDA Statistics.

“There’s still a lot that we don’t know about spotted lanternfly,” said Logue. “We don’t want to be caught by surprise in the future if it begins to cause issues on other crops, or natural resources that are important to us.”

Vacuuming the insects into a plastic bag has proved to be the most successful method of reducing the population size so far, according to officials. 

“That has worked really well for us,” said Logue, who mentioned that lanternflies die naturally if they do not feed on something for several hours. 

The state is encouraging homeowners to use cordless vacuums to suck up the pests if they have the desire to take action in their own backyard. At this time, they are not recommending a specific pesticide for use on private property. But officials encouraged residents to inquire with their local Cornell Cooperative to get a list of pesticides that are safe to use. 

Lanternflies tend to follow both commerce and recreational trade routes. In an effort to slow the spread, the state is inspecting shipments of goods for both egg masses and later stage flies.  

“They tend to be very good hitchhikers,” said Logue. “And they can move around in really all of their life stages, which is a challenge.”

If you see a spotted lantern fly, you can report it via an online reporting tool found at NYS Department of Environmental Conservation or email the location and images of the insect, egg masses or infestation signs to [email protected].

The state is encouraging reporting of any sighting, even if you are unsure that it is a spotted lanternfly. They also recommend featuring an object for scale, such as a coin or ruler, in submitted images. 

MARIA TAVOLACCI

Maria Tavolacci passed away on Friday, April 28, 2023 at the age of 89. Beloved wife of Anthony Tavolacci, loving mother of Josephine DeFeo and the late Anita Tartaro, and cherished grandmother of Daniella, Pasquale, Luke and Alex. Mass of Christian Burial offered at Our lady of Hope Church on Tuesday, May 2, 2023 at 9:45 AM. Entombment followed at St. John Cemetery Cloister, Middle Village, NY under the direction of Papavero Funeral Home, 72-27 Grand Avenue, Maspeth NY 11378.

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