Assault suspect still at large

No arrests have been made

Two women were physically assaulted on June 16, along Myrtle Avenue in the vicinity of the Glendale Library.

One of the victims—a 33-year-old woman, who requested to remain anonymous—said that a man punched her in the back of the head and shortly thereafter, punched another woman in the head and attempted to push her into the street.

A male witness working at a garage for Mount Lebanon Cemetery stayed with the women until the police arrived.

The Glendale Register ran a story last week describing the attacks, and at the time of publication, did not have an image of the suspect or information about him.

Since then, an employee of the cemetery posted a photo of the suspect that was captured by surveillance footage.

Christina Wilkinson, a member of Juniper Park Civic Association, promptly forwarded the image to Councilman Robert Holden, who then sent it to Cooper Rapid Rehousing Center.

The shelter confirmed that the individual was a resident of the shelter at the time of the assaults, but left on June 26.

The 33-year-old victim said that after searching for the perpetrator in the surrounding area and being unable to locate him, officers from the 104 Precinct took their statements, and a photo of the suspect from the cemetery’s security footage.

No arrests have been made in regards to this incident, and the victim feels “blown off” by the cops.

“It felt like the detective that I spoke to a few days later was blowing me off. He didn’t seem to know about the security footage, even though both of the officers who responded saw it, and I believe one of them took a picture with his cell phone,” she previously told The Glendale Register. “It just kind of felt like nobody was going to do anything about it, or that it wasn’t an ‘important crime,’ like a ‘there are bigger fish to fry’ type of thing.

In a Facebook post to the Glendale Civic Association group, Wilkinson said that Deputy Inspector Kevin Coleman, the 104’s new commanding officer, had not seen the photo of the suspect that was posted online.

Her post also says that the officers claim there were no witnesses, and that they’d been looking for the security camera footage of the attacks.

“Since they collected the screenshot, if the police followed up with the shelter that day, they could have arrested that man,” Wilkinson said. “I think what [Holden] was most upset about was that we used to get notified by Community Affairs that a pattern was occurring and to be alert, but we’re not getting that anymore.”

She brought up the recent robbery pattern across neighborhoods in Queens, one of which happened on 80th Street and Cooper Avenue in Glendale—where an elderly man was shoved to the ground and his gold chain was removed by two individuals on a moped.

“The civic groups have been very upset lately because the communication has been lackluster coming from the precincts,” Wilkinson said. “We find out about crimes in the newspaper or on TV that are happening in our own neighborhood, and we feel that there needs to be better communication from the precinct.”

The assault victim said that she’s lived in Glendale for most of her life, and has never felt unsafe—but is now on high alert when she goes out.

“I feel like there’s somebody still out there who maybe is looking to harm people or possibly doesn’t even remember harming people, depending on what his situation is,” she said. “I almost feel like nothing’s going to happen unless he does something again.”
Wilkinson feels that the homeless shelter is actively harming Glendale and its surrounding neighborhoods.

“It’s just been a revolving door of people who really need to be monitored, and they’re not,” she said. “Most of them don’t even know where they are, so they’re wandering around performing crimes of opportunity. Many of them have mental health or substance abuse issues… I don’t know why anybody would think this would be something that would enhance the community rather than be a detriment.”

Two women assaulted in Glendale

Perpetrator still on the loose

On June 16 at around 12:30 p.m., two women were physically assaulted on Myrtle Avenue in Glendale.

A 33-year-old woman, who requested to remain anonymous, said that during her regular lunchtime walk, an unknown individual came up from behind and punched her in the back of the head.

The incident occurred on Myrtle Avenue across the street from Mount Lebanon Cemetery, near the Glendale Library.

“It wasn’t my first thought that somebody had hit me,” she said. “I thought maybe something had fallen from the roof or some kids were playing with a basketball—almost like something had been thrown at me very hard.”

Instead, a male bystander working at a garage for the cemetery told her, “That man just punched you in the head.”
In the distance, she could see the perpetrator walking away casually in the opposite direction.

A few moments after the male bystander allowed the woman to come into the garage to call 9-1-1, another woman pushing a child in a stroller approached them, visibly shaken up.

“The man I was with said to her, ‘Did he hit you, too?’ and she said, ‘Yes, he punched me in the head and tried to push me into the street,’” the woman said.

“At that point, I was still kind of on autopilot trying to explain to 9-1-1 what the situation was. After we hung up and the police were on the way, I started to get upset and was processing what was actually going on,” she continued. “I could still see [the perpetrator] walking in the distance, continuing down Myrtle Avenue toward the McDonald’s.”

She added that the other woman who was assaulted said she was afraid to walk home as she needed to go in the same direction.

The two women, the child in the stroller, and the male bystander waited together outside the garage for the police to arrive.

But before they did, the suspect approached them again, yelling nonsensical statements and threatening them.

“We ran inside the garage and hid inside a tiny office in there. There was a glass window, so we can kind of see him outside,” the woman said.

“He was looking inside the garage for us, and at that point I felt like something was really wrong,” she continued. “It felt more like he intended to hurt us the second time, because why else would you come back? It was very menacing.”

By the time the police arrived, the suspect was gone, and they searched the surrounding area for him for a few minutes.

The cops could not locate him, and took the two victims’ statements.

Although the cemetery’s security cameras were able to capture a clear image of the suspect, the woman said that “nothing has been done” by the police as far as her case goes.

“It felt like the detective that I spoke to a few days later was blowing me off. He didn’t seem to know about the security footage, even though both of the officers who responded saw it, and I believe one of them took a picture with his cell phone,” she said.

“It’s been well over two weeks now, and I haven’t heard anything back. As far as I know, nobody’s been caught, and the picture hasn’t been circulated anywhere,” she continued. “It just kind of felt like nobody was going to do anything about it, or that it wasn’t an ‘important crime,’ like a ‘there are bigger fish to fry’ type of thing.

The woman described the assailant as a Black male in his mid-to-late 20s, average-size, wearing an oversized black t-shirt, a black durag, and what appeared to be red headphones around his neck.

She said that he looked very unassuming, and would not think twice if she’d simply passed him on the street.

It is unclear whether or not the individual was mentally unwell or under the influence of a substance, or if he came from the nearby Cooper Rapid Rehousing Center, a 200-bed men’s homeless shelter, which has caused a stir in the community.

“A lot of people that I’ve told the story to seem to think he came from there… I feel a lot of compassion for people who are experiencing homelessness, and was kind of an idealist when the shelter was first opening up,” the woman said.
“If this person was from the homeless shelter, I just hope he gets whatever help he needs.”

Since being assaulted, the 33-year-old Glendale resident said that she worries about the individual hurting someone else, and now feels very unsafe in the neighborhood.

“I’ve lived in Glendale pretty much my entire life, and I’ve never felt unsafe—especially in the middle of the day walking around. Now I feel like I’m constantly on high alert, and I’m afraid to go too far from my home or from my office,” she said. “I had a routine where I would walk on my lunch break and after work. A lot of times, I would go for a longer walk around the neighborhood, maybe an hour or so. I don’t feel comfortable doing that anymore.”

“I feel like there’s somebody still out there who maybe is looking to harm people or possibly doesn’t even remember harming people, depending on what his situation is,” she added. “The fact that he came back to us like that… that’s the kind of crime that can escalate. That’s the part that’s most concerning to me, and I almost feel like nothing’s going to happen unless he does something again.”

The NYPD’s Deputy Commissioner of Public Information confirmed that no arrests have been made at the time of publication, and the investigation is ongoing.

New Commanding Officer of the 104

Deputy Inspector Kevin Coleman discusses plans for community, uptick in crime

Although he doesn’t have a New York accent, NYPD Deputy Inspector Kevin Coleman is no stranger to the city—or the borough of Queens.

He first moved to Astoria from Rochester, NY in September 2001—just 10 days before 9/11—and now lives in Manhattan.

Coleman joined the NYPD exactly 19 years ago, and started his career at the 6th Precinct in Lower Manhattan.

He went on to work at the 25th Precinct in East Harlem, 43rd and 52nd Precincts in the Bronx, 10th Precinct in the west side of Manhattan, where he served as commanding officer, and the Patrol Borough Bronx before being transferred to the 104 three weeks ago.

The 104th Precinct serves the western section of Queens, containing the Ridgewood, Glendale, Middle Village, and Maspeth neighborhoods.

“I’m very excited to be here,” Coleman said. “Working-wise, this is my first time in Queens, as I was mainly a Manhattan and Bronx cop for my career. But I’m happy to be here at the 104 and in a new experience working in Queens.”

Coleman said he made the conscious decision to go to bed early the night before his first day, June 6, and he’s glad he did—as the fatal shooting at 1080 Wyckoff Avenue happened early that morning.

“My patrol sergeant called me, and I woke up to respond directly to the scene there. We had a fatality there; a man was shot in the head, which is a tragedy on its own,” he said.

“We had about four shooters that are pretty much linked to crews in Brooklyn, and even the Bronx, and they have an ongoing dispute,” he continued. “It’s horrible. We had a fatality, but it could have been worse there.”

Coleman said that the 104’s former commanding officer, Captain Louron Hall, has been very helpful for his transition into the new precinct.

Hall is now the Commanding Officer of the 109th Precinct in northeast Queens.

Similarly to Hall’s approach, Coleman aims to engage with the community as much as possible, by way of meeting with stakeholders and elected officials, attending local events, being active on social media, and being present at community meetings to hear people’s concerns.

“I like to talk with people,” Coleman said. “I have what I call an open door policy for my cops. I’ll talk to them, but also with people in the public by arranging meetings.”

Coleman attended his first 104th Precinct Community Council meeting last week, where he and other police officers from the precinct listened to community members’ concerns and provided them with crime statistics.

He shared that the precinct is up in almost all categories of crime, especially gun violence, as there have been seven shooting incidents year-to-date versus zero at this time last year. The Ridgewood section of the precinct is the area with the most violent crimes, as it borders the 83rd Precinct in Brooklyn.

“None of [the shootings] are connected, but I think it does illustrate that people are walking around with firearms, which is concerning,” Coleman said. “We want to make it very clear that this violence will not be tolerated here.”

He added that the 104th Precinct recovered a handful of guns in the past two weeks alone, and emphasized that any type of violent crime is a priority of the precinct, as well as other crimes such as scams, robberies, or grand theft auto.

As for interacting with the community, Coleman said that so far he feels supported by them, despite the widespread anti-police sentiments.

“Obviously, there are people that can have justified concerns about policing, and that goes for any profession. However, the thing that was really shocking to me during the ‘defund the police’ movement is this stigma to paint all cops, the entire profession, as bad people,” Coleman said.

“I know for a fact, being in the NYPD for 19 years, that there are so many good people who are here for the right reasons. They want to help communities, they want to help people, and they want to reduce crime,” he continued. “Because of the pandemic and the incidents that happened, such as the murder of George Floyd, I think people in general challenge authority more than they once did.”

Coleman reflected on a past experience in the Bronx, where he and his partner arrested an individual wanted for a crime.

During the arrest, the person turned to him and the other officer and said, “You guys are the bad guys now.”

“Although I don’t think that’s true, it certainly felt that way,” Coleman said. “And I think these things can be about perception, and where it becomes a problem is the bad guys out there that commit crimes, if they believe that they have this ability to challenge the police and that they feel like the public is on their side about that, that empowers them.”

Despite this, Coleman acknowledges that the majority of New York City actually supports the police, and feels that those who do not are in the minority.

“It’s almost like its own little world, here in these neighborhoods, which are right in the center of Queens and Brooklyn,” he said. “I like that this community is really closely knit and supportive—not just of the police, but for each other.”

104 Pct. Council says goodbyes to Len Santoro

Longtime community volunteer and 104th Precinct Community Council president, Len Santoro, led his final meeting at Maranatha Baptist Church in Ridgewood last week.

Santoro, who has lived in Queens for most of his life, served as the council’s president since 2015, and will move to Arizona next week with his wife, Barbara, who will retire.

What seemed to be a routine public meeting quickly turned into a time of expressed gratitude for Santoro from police officers, representatives of local elected officials, and fellow council members.

“Len represents everything the NYPD stands for in a community partnership,” Council Vice President Jon Kablack said. “He took over the council, which at the time of his takeover, had no funding and little participation, but he built it to where we can operate now and help support the command.”

Kablack will finish Santoro’s term as the council’s president until June, when their election will take place.

At the meeting, Deputy Inspector Louron Hall, the 104’s commanding officer, echoed Kablack’s sentiment, and said that Santoro will “always be a part of the NYPD family.”

During his time as president, Santoro spearheaded various community engagement activities, including National Night Out, Halloween trick or treating for neighborhood children, Cop of the Year fundraiser, and command appreciation day.

He also has experience working with other civic organizations, such as Juniper Park Civic Association and American Cancer Society.

To honor his commitment to the community, representatives from Congresswoman Grace Meng, Councilman Robert Holden, District Attorney Melinda Katz, NYS Senator Joseph Addabbo, and Assemblywoman Jenifer Rajkumar presented Santoro with proclamations and citations.

Additionally, the council gifted him an authentic, personalized DOT street sign that says “Len Santoro Boulevard.”
Santoro thanked everyone for their acknowledgements, and assured the group that the council is in good hands.

“John has a great leadership style and a lot of respect among the officers,” he said.

“Any good leader will tell you that they’re good because they have a strong support system. And I’ve always felt supported here by the NYPD, our partners, commanding officers, other board members, and people in the community.”

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