Subway crime down, officials say

By Matthew Fischetti

Mayor Eric Adams and Governor Kathy Hochul hold a press conference in the Fulton Street Subway Station to announce significant progress in making the subway system safer on Friday, January 27, 2023. Michael Appleton/Mayoral Photography Office

Major subway crime has dropped by 16 percent since last October, city and state officials announced last week.

At a press conference in Manhattan, Governor Hochul and Adams announced that the crime rate has reached pre pandemic levels, which the electeds credited to the launch of their “Cops, Cameras and Care program.” The plan added 1,2000 cops to the subways over 300 subway stops across the city and added additional trainings for NYPD and MTA employees.

The Atlantic Terminal station and the Sutphin-Archer Station in Brooklyn and Queens will have MTA police at the station, “freeing up roughly 100 NYPD officers for deployments at other priority transit locations on trains and in stations,” per the announcement.

In 2019, the rate of crime was 1.5 crimes per million rider; In 2022, the rate was 2.3 crimes per million riders; and in 2023 the ridership adjusted rate is only 1.7 crimes per million riders, according to figures unveiled by officials on Friday.

“So, despite all these facts, I can’t tell New Yorkers they should feel safe. I’m not going to even do that,” Governor Hochul said. “But the data is showing that New Yorkers are telling us they feel safer, and that’s what I’m going to pay attention to.”

MTA honcho Janno Lieber  said that through survey findings, the department found that around 60 percent of riders said they felt safe in November compared to previous results finding only around 40 percent of riders said the same in October.

100 cameras are currently planned to be installed across subway cars as part of the Governor and Mayor’s plans. The entire 6,500 car fleet is scheduled to have cameras installed by late 2024.

“We had a billion people that rode our system last year, but we have 3.9 million daily riders, an average of six crimes a day. It didn’t matter if those numbers were there. The reality was that people said they felt unsafe,” said Mayor Adams. “So we had to have a dual approach. We had to deal with how people felt and we had to deal with the actual six crimes, felony crimes we were having on average a day, and that was our dual approach.

Governor Hochul also announced that the state will create 25 more bed-units, to bring the total of inpatient beds to 50. The beds are a key part of critical time intervention, a model used by clinicians for decades that helps transition people during turbulent times. The model was first developed to provide care for  individuals facing chronic homelessness.

Councilwoman, cops burn illegal weed shops

By Jessica Meditz

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Paladino joined NYPD officers to raid two Whitestone smoke shops last week, Photo via @VickieforNYC, Twitter)

Two smoke shops in Whitestone were busted for selling to underaged children, marijuana products while unlicensed, along with illegal substances, the local councilwoman reported on social media.

Vickie Paladino, a Republican representing District 19, shared a video to Twitter saying she worked alongside Mayor Eric Adams’ office and New York City Sheriff Anthony Miranda to raid the troublesome joints in the community.

The two smoke shops, Izzy Convenience Shop at 14-05 Parsons Boulevard and Stoney Smoke Shop at 14-03 150th Street got “cleaned out,” according to Paladino, and cops confiscated products that included cannabis and hallucinatory mushrooms

In another tweet, she claimed that these stores were “centers of gang and illegal activity,” as well as the subject of numerous community complaints.

“I look forward to many, many more…my eyes are everywhere; my feet go everywhere,” Paladino said.

She thanked everyone involved in the feat including the sheriff, his officers and Deputy Mayor Phil Banks, and assured her followers that there’d be “more to come.”

“Great news: we killed two shops. They’ll be open, probably, tomorrow, but for now, they were emptied out,” she said upon concluding the video.

New York State first legalized recreational marijuana use in 2021, and the first legal dispensaries opened up in the city over the course of the last month.

It is still illegal to sell marijuana products without a license.

1 dead, 1 injured after Elmhurst nightclub shooting

Happened outside Amadeus Nightclub, cops say

By Ledger Staff

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Photo: Apple Maps

A man was killed and a woman was left injured after a shooting during the wee hours of the night this past Saturday in Elmhurst.

Police say that on Jan. 21 at around 4 a.m., they responded to a 911 call reporting that a man had been shot at Amadeus Nightclub, located at 79-51 Albion Avenue.

When they arrived at the scene, officers observed a 19-year-old man with gunshot wounds to his back and shoulder, and a 31-year-old woman with a gunshot wound to the buttocks.

Emergency medical services responded and the male victim was transported to the nearby NYC Health & Hospitals/ Elmhurst, where he was pronounced deceased.

The female victim was transported to the same hospital, where she’s listed in stable condition.

A preliminary investigation determined that there was a dispute inside the nightclub that continued outside, where an unknown individual discharged a firearm multiple times, striking the victims.

The unknown individual fled the scene in a black and white SUV to parts unknown.

The identity of the deceased is pending proper family notification.

There are no arrests at this time and the investigation remains ongoing.

Robbery pattern plagues Ridgewood, Bushwick

Perps targeting intoxicated people, police say

By Jessica Meditz

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As the 104th Precinct prepares for what 2023 will bring, its Ridgewood sector still faces a problem carried over from 2022 – a strong-armed robbery pattern.

At the most recent 104th Precinct Community Council meeting, Deputy Inspector Kevin Coleman, Commanding Officer of the 104, told attendees that the series of robberies spans from the end of November, and consists of about 13 incidents.

They’ve taken place within the confines of both the 104th Precinct in Ridgewood and 83rd Precinct in Bushwick, in the vicinity of Fairview Avenue, Wyckoff Avenue, Hart Street and Putnam Avenue.

“This is happening on the midnight shift, really between the hours of 1 a.m. and 5 a.m.,” Coleman said at the meeting. “People coming out of bars are kind of being targeted, and there’s two or three guys that approach someone from behind and either punch them or put them in a headlock, and then take their wallet, phone, or belongings.”

The 104th Precinct has been working closely with the 83rd Precinct to combat this issue, including setting up cameras to obtain footage of the perpetrators and deploying officers in the robbery zone.

“We have four brand new police officers in field training, and as of [this] week, we’re getting five new officers from this new class that just graduated,” Coleman said in an interview. “They’re out there visible, there’s foot posts out there with them, and they’re a component of the resources I’m putting in Ridgewood to address the problem.”

Coleman added that spreading awareness to locals is an important part of this action plan, and that the 104’s Crime Prevention Officer has visited nearby bars and other establishments to make them aware.

He also wants people in the community to be aware of their surroundings while they’re out late at night, whether it be for nightlife reasons, or simply coming home late from work.

“If you’re going out at night, you should travel with a group of people to ensure that everyone gets home safely, because all of our victims have been alone,” Coleman said. “I’d recommend, as always, to watch your consumption of drinking…because of the robbery pattern we’re concerned about people walking home. If you’re having a lot to drink, that can be dangerous for yourself, but you could also become the victim of a robbery.”

At the 104th Precinct Community Council meeting, he said that the precinct has a person of interest, and hopes to make an arrest as soon as possible.

Shootings decreased in Queens and Brooklyn: police

By Matthew Fischetti

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Police Commish Keechant Sewell at an unrelated press conference in September. (Photo: Ed Reed/Mayoral Photography Office)

Citywide shootings have decreased due to drops in Queens and Brooklyn, according to the most recent data from the NYPD.

Recent data compiled by the NYPD shows that in the month of December, citywide shooting decreased by 31.8 percent (101 vs 148) with some of the most significant reductions occurring in Queens and Kings counties.

Comparing data from Decmber 2021 and December 2022, new COMPSTAT numbers show that overall crime decreased by 11.6 percent with drops in murder, rape, robberies, burglary and grand larcenies all seeing decreases. Felony Assault and Grand Larceny Auto, two of the seven major crime indicies,  increased compared to the same time last year. Throughout 2022, overall crime was up with a high of 22.4 percent compared to 2021 (126,537 to 103,388) while citywide murders dropped by 11.3 percent (433 to 488).

New York’s bravest also pulled 7,135 guns off the street last year , a 27-year high for gun arrests. The seven major crime index also increased

“This work was reflected in the year-over-year declines we saw in the hundreds of fewer shooting incidents, shooting victims, and murders in 2022 – and our neighborhoods are safer because of it. As we turn the calendar over, the NYPD is confident about the future of our department, our city, and all the people we serve. Our team is in place, and we are stepping forward to meet and overcome any challenges we may face in 2023 and beyond,” Police Commissioner Keechant Sewell said in a statement.

In a January 5 press conference, Hizzoner defended the number stating that he didnt get better results due to Albany not following his agenda.

“Well, I think the commissioner and I, we have both made it clear what our thoughts are in that area. But I think it would be a grave danger if we believe that’s the magic bullet,” Mayor Adams said in response to a question regarding establishing dangerousness standards in setting bail.

“I’ve stated it over and over again, the bottlenecking of the criminal justice system, the failure to put trials in place in an expeditious manner, the recidivism of people carrying crimes over and over again. I’m going to return to Albany this year to add onto the success we’ve had last year, to talk about things like how do we look at recidivism, the numbers chief has pointed out,” he continued. “”There’s a small number of New Yorkers that are repeat offenders and our focus is to lean into those areas we agree on. And I’m looking forward to the conversation I’m going to have with the leaders of Albany as we talk about these issues.”

Queens’ top news stories of 2022

By Jessica Meditz

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Given the events of the two years previous, 2022 was a year of opportunity for many.

It had its ups, but also its downs – and the borough of Queens was no exception.

The beginning of the year started with discussions of innovations in transportation, with Gov. Kathy Hochul’s announcement to move forward with the Interborough Express as part of her 2022 State of the State.

The proposed 24-mile Interborough Express would use existing tracks to connect 17 subway lines, four commuter rail lines and dozens of bus lines, with end-to-end travel time expected to be less than 40 minutes.

The year began with discussions of innovations in transportation, with Gov. Kathy Hochul’s announcement to move forward with the Interborough Express as part of her 2022 State of the State.

It would extend from Co-Op City in the Bronx to Bay Ridge in Brooklyn and could serve as many as 100,000 riders per day.

“It’s time to invest in the bold, cutting-edge infrastructure projects that will make a real difference in the lives of everyday New Yorkers,” Hochul said in a statement. “New Yorkers deserve reliable public transit that connects them from work to home and everywhere in between. The Interborough Express would be a transformational addition to Brooklyn and Queens, cutting down on travel time and helping neighborhoods and communities become cleaner, greener and more equitable.”

The conversation extended to more Queens residents advocating for the use of abandoned rail lines – such as the QNS plan, a proposal to reactivate and repurpose freight rail along the Lower Montauk Branch which runs through central Queens; and the QueensLink, a proposed 3.5-mile long transit and park corridor in the same space, which would connect northern and southern Queens.

The latter became a controversial issue in September, when Mayor Eric Adams came to Forest Hills to announce that the city plans to spend $35 million to begin phase one of construction for the QueensWay, a linear park along the 3.5 miles of abandoned railroad tracks, in place of the QueensLink.

Eric Adams paid a visit to Forest Hills for the announcement.

Friends of the QueensLink argued that the implementation of the QueensWay would shut out any future use of transit on the line and deprive Southern Queens residents of a faster commute and less traffic while reducing pollution and carbon emissions.

“They’re talking about transit, but they’re not doing anything about it. So the key is, if you really do care about public transit, and it’s not just a campaign slogan, then you need to take it seriously and study the integration of a Transit Link, which would be a subway and a park,” Rick Horan, executive director of QueensLink, said.

“Our goal is to try to see if there’s enough value in this project to get it there. But the only way we can do that is to study it,” he continued. “So we’ve been promoting an Environmental Impact Statement for QueensLink, which includes rail entry.”

An advancement in transportation that came to fruition was the completion of the massive Kew Gardens Interchange project after what feels like forever – 12 years, four phases and $739 million later.

The Kew Gardens Interchange is the complex intersection of the Grand Central Parkway, the Van Wyck Expressway, the Jackie Robinson Parkway and Union Turnpike. Its reconstruction allows for faster travel, safer merging and exiting and more reliable connections for travelers to get to JFK Airport and other prime destinations.

12 years, four phases and $739M later, the massive Kew Gardens Interchange project is complete.

The interchange serves nearly 600,000 vehicles daily.

Within the political sphere, the gubernatorial election between Democrat Kathy Hochul and Republican Lee Zeldin was a hot button issue statewide, but also in Queens – with a rise in fears of crime and Zeldin’s tough-on-crime campaign approach.

While Hochul came out victorious, Zeldin’s visit to Glendale and another to Middle Village resonated with many locals.

Lee Zeldin paid a visit to Glendale during his run for Governor.

Even neighborhoods that were once considered “more tame” by residents, such as Forest Hills, were the setting for true crime stories right here in Queens.

The spring for Forest Hills was particularly somber this year, following the grisly killings of two individuals: Orsolya Gaal and Zhiwen Yan.

Gaal, a 51-year-old mother of two from Forest Hills, whose body was discovered in a sports duffel bag near Forest Park in April.

David Bonola was sentenced to 25 years in prison following the murder of Orsolya Gaal.

Forty-four-year-old David Bonola of South Richmond Hill was sentenced to 25 years in prison for the slaying, and police say the pair had an on-and-off romantic affair for two years while Bonola worked at her home on Juno Street as a handyman.

The community came together to mourn the life of Zhiwen Yan, a food delivery worker who worked at Great Wall Chinese Restaurant in Forest Hills and resided in Middle Village with his wife and three children.

The community showed much support for Zhiwen Yan’s family during their time of grief.

Yan, 45, was fatally shot on the night of April 30 while riding his scooter on his way to deliver food in Forest Hills.

Glen Hirsch, 51, of Briarwood was charged for the killing, but eventually got out on bail and then committed suicide before he could do his time.

The murder of 61-year-old FDNY EMS worker, Alison Russo-Elling, in Astoria shocked the entire city.

The murder of Alison Russo-Elling left Queens in a state of shock.

The 25-year veteran of the FDNY, who responded to the 9/11 attacks in 2001, was brutally stabbed in September near EMS Station 49 in an unprovoked attack.

Peter Zisopoulos, 34, was charged with murder in the second degree and criminal possession of a weapon in the fourth degree, according to Queens District Attorney Melinda Katz.

In terms of Astoria news, Innovation QNS – a project that seeks to rezone five city blocks to build a mixed use residential and commercial district in the neighborhood – was definitely the most talked about issue.

Rendering via Innovation QNS.

The project quickly became a controversial topic among residents, as concerns about displacement, lack of affordable housing, gentrification and not enough community outreach arose.

Councilwoman Julie Won, who represents that section of the district, pushed for 55 percent affordability for the 3,190-unit project recently, but indicated her support for the project at 45 percent affordability after negotiations with developers.

The project was ultimately passed by the City Council in November, with 46 votes in favor and one against. Its plan now features 1,436 affordable units – more than double the 711 units originally approved by the City Planning Commission.

“From Day 1, I have stood with my community in demanding deeper affordability from this development–and because we held the line, the Innovation QNS project has doubled the number of affordable units than initially offered, from 711 to 1,436 affordable units,” Won said in a statement.

More recently, locals clamored at the announcement of a new 25,000-seat soccer stadium for the New York City Football Club – slated to open in Willets Point in 2027.

The plan – spearheaded by Councilman Francisco Moya – includes 2,500 affordable homes (with no market rate components), a 650-seat school and a 250-room hotel.

Mayor Adams’ office projects that the development will bring in $6.1 billion in revenue over the next 30 years, as well as over 14,000 construction jobs and 1,550 permanent ones.

Husband charged with hitting wife with SUV, stabbing her​​

By Alicia Venter

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Stephen Giraldo, 36, has been charged for allegedly hitting his wife with his SUV — with their three children sitting in the car — and then stabbing her with a knife, according to the Office of the Queens District Attorney. The incident took place outside of her Flushing residence.

Sophia Giraldo, the defendant’s 41-year-old wife, has been left with severe neurological damage, broken bones in her leg and a stab wound that punctured her liver.

Giraldo, of 144th Street in Jamaica, was arraigned on charges of attempted murder in the second degree, assault in the first and second degree, reckless endangerment in the second degree, endangering the welfare of a child and criminal possession of a weapon in the fourth degree.

According to the charges, Giraldo entered the driver’s seat of a white Ford Explorer parked near the intersection of Parsons Boulevard and Sanford Avenue in Flushing at approximately 5:20 a.m.

The three children, ages 11, 9 and 6, were seated in the car.

The victim walked in front of the vehicle, and the defendant allegedly told the children to “keep your seatbelt on” before accelerating, striking the victim.

After the collision, the car turned onto its side; the defendant allegedly crawled out of the passenger side window of the vehicle and stabbed his wife with a knife.

The defendant was on the scene when police arrived.

“The brutality of the attack, and the fact that it was committed in full view of the victim’s three young children, stirs heartbreak and outrage in all of us,” said Queens District Attorney Melinda Katz in a statement. “My thoughts are with the children.”

Giraldo has been ordered to return to court on Jan. 12. If convicted, he faces up to 25 years in prison.

Carrol has been formally charged with the crime, but he has not been found guilty of committing the crime.

Elmhurst father indicted in death of 3-year-old son

Allegedly killed his son at Pan American Hotel

By Alicia Venter

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The Pan American Hotel in Elmhurst. Photo: Google Maps.

An Elmhurst man has been indicted for murder, endangering the welfare of a child and other crimes in connection with the death of his three-year-old son, according to the Queens District Attorney’s Office.

He has also been charged with physical abuse to a second child in an Elmhurst shelter last month.

Shaquan Butler, 26, is from Elmhurst.

According to the charges, Butler was in his apartment at the Pan American Hotel in Elmhurst  at approximately 7:40 p.m. on Nov. 13 when he struck his three-year-old son numerous times.

The son suffered lacerations to his liver and internal bleeding.

According to the charges, the child’s mother and his two younger siblings were in the apartment at the time of the alleged assault.

Responding to a 911 call, the New York Fire Department found the victim unconscious on the floor with visible bruises to the head, body and extremities.

The child was rushed to a hospital, where he was pronounced dead upon arrival, and the medical examiner determined that the child died from blunt force trauma to the torso.

A medical examination of a second child, age 2, revealed physical injuries consistent with child abuse.

Butler was arraigned Dec. 20 on a eleven-count indictment, charging him with murder in the second degree, two counts of manslaughter in the first degree, manslaughter in the second degree, assault in the second degree and six counts of endangering the welfare of a child.

Butler has been ordered to return to court on Jan. 31. He faces up to 40 years to life in prison if convicted.

“As alleged, this parent failed his primary duty as a protector, killing one of his own children by callous force and allegedly injured another,” said Queens District Attorney Melinda Katz in a statement. “We will not forget this child. The defendant will be held fully accountable for his actions.”

Rego Park man indicted for brutal subway attack

A Rego Park man was indicted and arraigned today for the alleged subway attack of a woman back in November, Queens District Attorney Melinda Katz announced.

Abel Pita Aviles, 36, of 67th Avenue, is accused of robbing and groping a woman at knifepoint inside an M train subway car in Dutch Kills.

According to the charges, on Nov. 11, at around 8:45 a.m., Aviles approached the 24-year-old female victim inside an M train subway car approaching the 36th Street station.

The attack occurred on an M train car approaching the 36th St. Station. (Photo: Google Maps)

He’s accused of pointing a knife at the victim while demanding money and her cell phone, as well as pinning her down to the subway seat and forcibly groping her before fleeing on foot. The woman did hand over her phone and cash.

Aviles was apprehended shortly thereafter on Nov. 15.

“This shameful attack inside our subway system will not go unanswered. My office will use all tools at our disposal to protect commuters from violence inside our trains,” Katz said in a statement. “Every New Yorker should expect to be able to travel safely using public transportation. The defendant has been indicted on serious charges and is in custody.”

Aviles was arraigned before a Queens Supreme Court Judge on a four-count indictment charging him with robbery in the first degree, sexual abuse in the first degree, forcible touching and criminal possession of a weapon in the fourth degree.

He was ordered to return to court on Jan. 17, 2023.

If convicted, Aviles faces up to 25 years in prison.

The investigation was conducted by members of the NYPD Transit Bureau’s Special Victims Division.

Alleged animal abuser busted on Woodhaven Boulevard

Dog and seven puppies rescued by 104th Precinct

By Jessica Meditz

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A dog and her seven puppies were rescued by police during a car stop.

Last Saturday, officers from the 104th Precinct rescued an adult great dane and her seven puppies during a car stop on Woodhaven Boulevard in Rego Park.

At around 4 p.m., Officers Kristen Candelaria and Stephen Sheehan of the 104 conducted a car stop after they observed 27-year-old Ravon Service of Philadelphia operating a vehicle with a loud exhaust southbound.

Officers Stephen Sheehan and Kristen Candelaria .

During the stop, the officers observed an emaciated female dog and her seven puppies inside the vehicle in a confined plastic container with no access to food, water or adequate space.

The dogs were transported to an animal hospital to receive treatment.

The adult great dane is so malnourished, her ribs are poking out.

Seven puppies were rescued along with their mother from known animal abuser Ravon Service.

Service was arrested and charged with eight counts of torture/injure/not feed animal, eight counts of neglect of impounded animal, seven counts of animal carried in cruel manner and unreasonable noise.

“Our Neighborhood Coordination Officers, Officer Kristen Candelaria and Officer Stephen Sheehan, did an outstanding job. They were out patrolling their sector, their neighborhood and addressing quality of life conditions when they found these poor puppies and their mother during a vehicle stop. The visible conditions of the dogs were immediate indicators that they were victims of a depraved indifference to animal life,” said Deputy Inspector Kevin Coleman, Commanding Officer of the 104th Precinct.

“Candelaria and Sheehan are indeed heroes — their proactive policing of the neighborhood ultimately led to the rescue of these defenseless puppies and their mother,” he continued. “We encourage all New Yorkers to report animal cruelty to 311, and active crimes in progress to 911.”

Councilman Robert Holden took to Twitter to applaud the officers on a job well done, and advocated for finding loving homes for the animals.

Shortly after his first tweet, Holden posted again that Service appears to be the same individual who was caught last year for abusing animals and assaulting a landlord, the New York Post reported.

“Throw the book at this individual,” Holden wrote Sunday. “People like this should never see the light of day, yet we release them back to the public to continue their crimes.”

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