(SEE VIDEO): Brutal Middle Village robbery shakes up community

66-year-old man beaten, robbed of $17K

By Jessica Meditz

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Residents of Middle Village were appalled to see the shocking footage released by the 104th Precinct of a 66-year-old man being brutally beaten and robbed in broad daylight.

Last Thursday, Oct. 13 at around 1:20 p.m., the victim was walking on 71st Street toward Juniper Valley Road, when an unidentified male individual approached him from behind, shoved him to the pavement, started punching and kicking him throughout his body and dragged him across the sidewalk.

The perpetrator went on to swipe the victim’s bag that he carried, robbing him of $17,000 in cash.

Leaving him to lie on the ground, the thief then fled on foot and got inside a maroon Ford Fusion operated by a second unidentified male individual.

The car was last seen heading toward Eliot Avenue. Emergency Medical Services treated the victim on scene for minor injuries.

Before the robbery took place, the suspects were seen inside Artis Drug and Surgical Supplies located at 80-02 Eliot Avenue.

No arrests have been made, and the NYPD is still on the hunt for the robbers.

The first individual is described as having a medium complexion, medium build with short dark hair, last seen wearing a dark colored hooded jacket, multi-colored Tommy Hilfiger sweatpants, white sneakers, a blue and white North Face baseball cap and glasses.

The second individual is described as having a medium complexion, medium build, last seen wearing a dark-colored jacket, dark-colored sweatpants, gray sneakers and a blue Houston Astros baseball cap.

The 104th Precinct Civilian Observation Patrol – G-COP shared a post on their Facebook page to spread the word about the incident.

They noted the unconventional nature of the victim carrying $17,000 in cash on his person.

“I say Investigate the Person who was attacked…He knows something,” the comment read. “You are Not going to walk around in the Park with 17K in your Possession.”

Other residents, like 40-plus-year Middle Village local, Anthony Reardon, agent at Eliot Hill Realty, are losing faith in the community they once felt safe in.

“I feel the 104 Precinct does a terrific job; they have to cover a lot of territory. It’s a large area, so I have no knocks against the 104,” he said.

“Whoever did this had to have been watching him from when he was at the bank. They had to know he was carrying a large sum of money,” he continued. “I feel that we need to look out for each other as a community in these situations. If you see something, say something.”

Relatives of killed DoorDash worker demand justice; Tran family speaks out

By Jessica Meditz

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Locals built a memorial for Be Tran at the intersection of Myrtle and Seneca Avenues in Ridgewood.

Anh Tran wanted nothing more than for her 74-year-old father, Be Tran, to come home to Flushing and relax on the evening of Aug. 14.

She pleaded for him to stop working as a DoorDash driver so she could take care of him — in return for all the years he did the same for her.

“Don’t worry,” her father said to her in a text message.

Little did she know that those would be the last words she would ever hear from him.

During what is believed to be his last food delivery of the night, Be Tran was struck by a hit-and-run driver in a black BMW with Florida license plates at Myrtle Avenue and Hancock Street in Ridgewood.

Tran was pronounced dead at the scene.

The suspect is still at large and the case is being investigated by the NYPD Highway Collision Investigation Squad.

Tran’s death sparked feelings of shock, anger and sadness within the community, and activists rallied to demand more action from the city they live, work and commute in every day.

Nearly two weeks after the hit-and-run collision, community members and volunteer activists Chong Bretillon and Elizabeth Amber Gomez organized a candlelight vigil with the Tran family to honor his life and legacy.

“Thirteen nights ago on this very street, a man I called father, a man who spent his lifetime paying for his family, building and living the American dream, today we have gathered to celebrate his life,” Anh Tran said to the small crowd at the vigil.

“The cruel individual who killed my father and inflicted this pain upon my family and I is still out there,” she continued. “We have been shedding light and raising awareness about this horrific tragedy through the news, media and social media to bring justice and a semblance of peace in our hearts.”

Tran and her sister, Tina expressed their gratitude to the community for the endless support, including the memorial built by local activist groups on Myrtle and Seneca Avenues and all the donations that went toward their father’s funeral.

Tran started a GoFundMe page for her father on Aug. 15, where she described him as a “kind, caring, charismatic, funny and extremely hard-working individual.”

Close to 900 people donated — from other local DoorDash drivers to Tran’s high school classmates from Vietnam — to support the family, quickly raising over $40,000.

Early last week, Tran’s funeral was held at Quinn-Fogarty Funeral Home in Flushing.

His younger sister, Truyen Swinger, flew to Queens from her home in Florida when she heard the news about her brother.

She, Tran and their six other siblings were born and raised in Vietnam. Swinger said that Tran was in law school before he was drafted to the Vietnam War, where he served as a lieutenant.

“We went through thick and thin together…we survived the Vietnam War before we came to America,” Swinger said.

“My brother is a very hard worker and a very devoted father. This loss is just such a shock.”

Truyen Swinger and Anh Tran demanded justice for their brother and father, Be Tran.

Swinger said that “something must be done” for street safety citywide, especially to protect the elderly and disabled, and wishes people would drive slower and more carefully.

Her words struck up conversations on possible options for the DOT to implement to end traffic violence and accidents.

Juan Ardila, the Democratic candidate for Assembly District 37, which represents parts of Long Island City, Maspeth, Sunnyside, Woodside and Ridgewood, pointed out that there are five roads at the intersection where Tran was killed, and only four traffic signals.

“We all deserve to have safe streets and be able to work with peace and dignity. Especially coming from an immigrant background, where being a delivery worker is one of the few occupations that is attainable for working class people,” Ardila said.

“This is something that impacts all lives…immigrant populations, people of color and working class people,” he continued. “We need to ensure that we are responsive to this situation, that we understand the need and the demand because right now, we are asking for robust infrastructure and robust protection,” he continued. “It’s the No. 1 rule to look out for each other.”

Bretillon argued that this incident is being underrepresented, and believes that if it were a gun-related matter, it would have made state or national news.

Transit activist Chong Bretillon co-organized the vigil and advocated for the Tran family.

“Traffic violence happens every single day in this city and disproportionately impacts senior citizens, immigrants and people of color. The police do not enforce dangerous driving behavior, such as speeding and failure to yield. The DOT designs clearly dangerous intersections and terrible curb conditions despite years of complaints, crashes, injuries and deaths,” she said.

“Mr. Tran was a delivery worker and essential worker. Unlike people who work in offices, schools or buildings, his workplace was the streets. He brought hot, fresh food to people who are safe in their homes, who order online, who aren’t even thinking about the dangers that delivery workers face,” she continued.

“Lack of safe infrastructure and lack of speed limiting street design means delivery workers are placed in unsafe conditions every single day. Not only that, but they’re vulnerable to violence, robberies and assault by other people. Their bikes are often stolen and lastly, they’re subjected to harassment and ticketing by the NYPD themselves.”

Anh Tran said that she wishes it didn’t take someone losing their life to resolve these issues.

“I just hope this incident can actually bring light to this, and hopefully they can take this seriously,” she said. “We don’t need any more New Yorkers to get killed, and I wouldn’t want any other family to go through what I’m going through.”

Tran said that she and her family will not stop searching for justice, and had just four words for the person who killed her father, “You will be caught.”

Ridgewood rallies for killed DoorDash worker

Groups, pols demand DOT make streets safer

By Jessica Meditz

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Two back-to-back hit-and-run incidents took the Ridgewood community by surprise in mid-August.

On Aug. 14, 74-year-old Be Tran, a DoorDash worker and father of two, was struck and killed by a hit-and-run driver at Myrtle Ave. and Hancock St.

In response, and to demand an end to traffic violence in the neighborhood, Ridgewood Tenants Union and Transportation Alternatives organized a rally on Seneca Ave. — in the vicinity of where Tran was killed.

Adrian King, the owner of King’s Juice Bar in Ridgewood, was on scene when the hit-and-run occurred.

For over a year, King has fought for a traffic signal at the intersection of Weirfield St. and Seneca Ave., due to the countless traffic accidents he’s witnessed.

“I’m so frustrated because I’ve been in Ridgewood for 40 years, and I love Ridgewood. The issue with Ridgewood is that it’s a community based on community, attention, love, dedication and looking out for each other. Today’s generation is a different world,” King said.

“Focus, pay attention, stop thinking about yourselves. When you’re on the street, anything can happen, forces that we can’t control,” he continued. “But if you collectively think about each other, it will be a better place anywhere in the world — so focus.”

Raquel Namuche, founder of Ridgewood Tenants Union, who has worked closely with King to combat this issue, informed the crowd that the Queens liaison for DOT responded to their inquiry for a traffic signal at the intersection.

“We will be in touch about the study at Weirfield St. We are unable to send a representative today,” the DOT representative said in an email. “We are also working to get details around the fatal crash on Seneca Ave., and are looking to see if there are ways to further enhance safety for all street users.”

Namuche argued that the DOT be more prompt and vigilant in regard to pedestrian safety in the community. 

“We need them to do it now. Here at this intersection, it’s been over a year. There’s been numerous accidents, and we can share videos of all the accidents that Mr. King and our neighbor, Robert Diaz, have been tracking here,” Namuche said.

“It is unacceptable. Mr. Tran should not have died. The hit and run on Wyckoff Ave. and George St. should not have happened. That should not be happening, not in Ridgewood, not anywhere in this city,” she continued. “And as long as it keeps happening, we know that DOT and the Mayor are not keeping us safe. And that’s what today is about. They are not enhancing our protection in any way, shape or form, and we need them to do it now.”

State Senator Michael Gianaris and Councilwoman Jennifer Gutiérrez accompanied the groups and numerous community members in attendance.

“I brought this intersection to the attention of the DOT a year and a half ago, and they are still studying it. This is a problem we see everywhere,” Gianaris said. “The city knows what it needs to do to make these places safe. They just need the will to do it.”

Gianaris explained that the city studies and scores a certain intersection before additional protections are added to it.

Part of the score is how many crashes the site has seen, and another is how many people have been injured or killed.

“Queens Boulevard used to be known as the ‘Boulevard of Death’ because so many people were killed in crashes, and after all those deaths, they finally did something about it,” Gianaris said.

“So they have to wait until that happens to get the score high enough to realize that an intersection needs protection,” he continued. “The city has it backwards.”

“Someone who is still working at 74, risking their life every single day to provide for their family and to contribute to an economy for a city that says ‘I don’t care about your safety’ is a slap in the face to [Tran’s] family and their story of coming here to the United States,” Gutiérrez, who represents portions of Ridgewood, said.

“The city has done way too much to empower drivers, at the cost of pedestrians, at the cost of cyclists, of our seniors and of our children. It’s time that we make that change,” she continued. “We need to continue to push DOT. It’s unacceptable that there exists a rubric for how many deaths need to occur for mitigation to happen. I am extremely frustrated.”

Kathy Park Price, a Brooklyn organizer for Transportation Alternatives, said that residents of city streets know them best, and that the organization will stand in partnership with elected officials to do more.

Kathy Park Price, a Brooklyn organizer for Transportation Alternatives, spoke at the rally.

“We know what works and we need to take action immediately…We need to rely on street design and infrastructure to affect change,” she said.

“We know from the DOT that road diets, bike lanes, pedestrian highland, sidewalk expansions, turn calming and leading pedestrian intervals all deliver impressive injury reductions for everyone, including older adults,” she continued.

The program concluded with a moment of silence to honor Be Tran, and a poem read by Michelle Bounkousohn, a member of Ridgewood Tenants Union.

The poem was written in Vietnamese by Ngo Thanh Nhan, Bounkousohn’s grandfather, in memory of his life and legacy in the community.

The poem, Tran’s picture, flowers and candles were placed on the corner of Myrtle and Seneca Aves. as a memorial for him.

On Aug. 10, three people, including a mother pushing her child in a stroller, were hit by an unlicensed driver at Wyckoff Ave. and George St.

The suspect wanted for that incident has been identified as 28-year-old Tyshawn Baldwin.

The hit-and-run driver who struck and killed Tran remains at large, and the investigation is ongoing.

Ridgewood hit-and-run suspect who struck 3, including mom and toddler, charged

By Jessica Meditz

[email protected]

The individual who allegedly struck three people with his car and fled the scene last week in Ridgewood has been identified and charged.

Tyshawn Baldwin, 28, of Classon Avenue in Brooklyn, was charged on Aug. 17 with assault, reckless endangerment, unlawful fleeing of police officers and other crimes for the hit-and-run collision, which left three pedestrians injured — including a mother and toddler inside a stroller.

On Aug. 10 at Wyckoff Avenue and George Street, officers from the 104th Precinct conducted a traffic stop of the vehicle in question, a 2021 Dodge Durango SRT Hellcat, reportedly with a loud exhaust and dark rear tinted windows.

Police observed Baldwin proceed to the intersection and exit the vehicle, to which they responded by activating their lights and ordering him back in the car, officers claim in the criminal charges.

Police say Baldwin was cooperative until they determined that his license was suspended on Aug. 3 of last year, and asked him to step out of his car. Instead, police say he started the car, revved the engine, refused numerous commands to stop and drove at a high rate of speed away from the intersection.

Three people were struck: a 28-year-old woman and a two-year-old girl in a stroller, along with a 35-year-old man who was unloading a truck.

The two female victims sustained minor injuries, and the male was transported to Wyckoff Hospital with a compound leg fracture.

The driver could not be located immediately, but the 2021 Dodge Durango SRT Hellcat was discovered abandoned on Woodbine Street in Bushwick shortly thereafter.

Baldwin was arraigned on Aug. 17 before Queens Criminal Court on a 17-count complaint.

He faces charges of assault in the first and second degrees, reckless endangerment in the first and second degrees, unlawful fleeing a police officer, obstructing governmental administration, endangering the welfare of a child, reckless driving, aggravated unlicensed operation of a motor vehicle, parking within an intersection and driving by unlicensed operator.

Baldwin was ordered to return to court on Aug. 19. If convicted, he faces up to 25 years in prison.

“The complete disregard for public safety in this case is shameful. As alleged, the defendant was operating a vehicle with a suspended license when he struck and injured three pedestrians, including a young child all while callously fleeing a traffic stop,” Queens District Attorney Melinda Katz said in a statement.

“Driving is a privilege and every single person who gets behind the wheel of a car bears an individual responsibility to drive safely,” she continued. “The defendant now faces very serious charges.”

Another hit-and-run collision occurred in Ridgewood at Myrtle Avenue and Hancock Street just days after on Aug. 14, where a 74-year-old pedestrian, Be Tran, was killed.

The suspect for that incident remains at large and the investigation is ongoing.

Area sees 3 hit-and-run incidents in few-day span

Two in Ridgewood, one in Elmhurst; one dead, one in critical condition

By Jessica Meditz


Residents of Ridgewood, Elmhurst and its surrounding neighborhoods were shocked to hear the news of three separate hit-and-run incidents occurring within days of each other.

The first incident occurred on Aug. 10 in Ridgewood at Wyckoff Avenue and George Street, where a 28-year-old woman and a two-year-old girl in a stroller were struck, along with a 35-year-old man who was hit while unloading a truck.

Officers of the 104th Precinct conducted a traffic stop of the vehicle, and ordered the driver to step out. Instead, the suspect stepped on the gas and drove away.

The individual could not be located, but his 2021 Dodge Durango was discovered abandoned on Woodbine Street in Bushwick, Brooklyn shortly thereafter.

The two female victims sustained minor injuries, and the male was transported to Wyckoff Hospital with a compound leg fracture.

The second incident also occurred in Ridgewood, at the intersection of Myrtle Avenue and Hancock Street this past Sunday.

The scene where 74-year-old Be Tran was killed in Ridgewood. (Photo: Citizen)

Police say the driver of a black BMW was traveling east on Myrtle Avenue and struck a 74-year-old man who was crossing the street.

The male victim, Be Tran, was pronounced dead at the scene.

The suspect behind the wheel fled southbound on Seneca Avenue.

Tran was a father and worker for DoorDash.

ABC7 reported that the company released a statement after learning of his death: “This is a heartbreaking tragedy and our thoughts are with his loved ones during this unimaginably difficult time,” the company said.

“We are reaching out to his loved ones to extend our deepest condolences and offer our support. We stand ready to assist law enforcement with their investigation and hope those responsible for this horrible crime are brought to justice.”

The latest incident happened in Elmhurst early Tuesday morning.

At around 2 a.m., police responded to a 911 call of a pedestrian struck in the vicinity of Roosevelt Avenue and 76 Street.

Upon arrival, officers discovered a 45-year-old man, unresponsive, lying in the roadway with severe body trauma.

The victim was taken to NYC Health + Hospitals in Elmhurst, and is listed in critical condition.

Investigation by the NYPD Highway District’s Collision Investigation Squad revealed that the male victim was crossing Roosevelt Avenue when he was struck by a gray Honda Sedan traveling eastbound, which fled the scene.

The suspect remains at large.

Ridgewood Tenants Union, a tenant rights advocacy group, organized a protest in response to the death of Be Tran.

In a release, the group argued that New York City should work to become a safer place for pedestrians, and until more measures are taken, vulnerable communities remain in danger.

“They were all victims of reckless hit-and-runs that could have been prevented if New York City were a safer city for pedestrians. A block away from the latest fatality, residents have been calling on the DOT to install traffic signals in the school zone at Weirfield Street and Seneca Ave, the only intersection on Seneca Ave from St. Felix Avenue to Dekalb Avenue without a traffic signal,” the statement read. “Until these pedestrian protections are put in place, more traffic violence is bound to occur, putting children, the elderly and the community at large in danger.”

At press time, no arrests have been made in regard to all the incidents and investigations are ongoing.

Zhiwen Yan’s alleged killer commits suicide

Last Friday, detectives found the body of Glenn Hirsch, 51, of Briarwood—the alleged killer of Zhiwen Yan, a Chinese food delivery man who worked in Forest Hills.

The Daily News reported that he died by suicide, and left a “rambling suicide note” requesting that the charges be dropped against his wife, Dorothy Hirsch, who was accused of keeping his guns in her home.

Authorities say Hirsch shot himself.

Hirsch was supposed to appear in court on Aug. 5, and was charged for stalking and killing Yan, 45, on April 30.

Yan, who lived in Middle Village, was fatally shot at around 9:30 p.m. while riding his scooter on his way to deliver food at the intersection of 108th St. and 67th Dr. in Forest Hills.

The husband and father of three endured a gunshot wound to the chest which caused him to fall off his scooter.

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

While in custody for these charges, Hirsch was granted $500,000 bail, which his brother posted with a certified check.

He complied with the conditions for his release on bail, which required him to be monitored by an ankle bracelet and to remain inside for 24 hours, only permitted to leave his home for visits to his lawyer, doctor and court, as well as one hour per day of exercise.

He was also barred from going near the Great Wall Restaurant, where Yan worked, its delivery zones, or anywhere near the crime scene, and was prohibited from leaving New York City, going within a mile of airports or major train stations and purchasing guns.

Although there was much backlash from elected officials and community members for his release on bail, Queens District Attorney Melinda Katz says she would have preferred for him to have his day in court.

“The loss of a human life is always tragic. Obviously, we would have preferred to try Mr. Glenn Hirsch for the calculated murder of Mr. Zhiwen Yan in a court of law, but this is no longer an option,” Katz said in a statement.

“We once again express our deepest condolences to the family and friends of Mr. Zhiwen Yan, who continue to grieve his tragic and senseless loss.”

Police impersonation, home invasion, robbery on Doran Ave.

Perp got away with $10K, still at large

By Jessica Meditz

[email protected]

Photo: Google Maps

A home invasion and robbery occurred Saturday at around 1 a.m. on Doran Ave. in Glendale, police say.

A 27-year-old female victim reported that two unidentified males, one of them wearing an NYPD t-shirt, ballistic vest, and a baseball cap, rang her doorbell looking for her boyfriend, claiming they were NYPD officers before kicking in the door and handcuffed her.

The individuals displayed a firearm and forcibly entered the residence.

The 104th Precinct shared these photos of the suspects and vehicles involved.

Police say the suspects removed $10,000 cash and fled in a black Ford Mustang and dark colored Nissan crossover model.

Upon arrival, officers encountered the woman standing in the street, handcuffed. She did not sustain any injuries as a result of this crime.

At the time of publication, no arrests have been made in regard to this incident and the investigation is ongoing.

Residents of the neighborhood remain concerned about the motive of the crime, and what the recent uptick in crime means for the community in the long term.

“Who leaves $10,000 on their night table? If that’s true, I’m going to assume the burglary was drug-related,” Kathy Masi, a Glendale resident and member of Community Board 5, said.

“Unfortunately, due to bail reform we are seeing large spikes in crime throughout the city and right here locally in our neighborhood,” Michael Conigliaro, a Rego Park resident and the Republican candidate for the upcoming State Assembly District 28 election, said.

“Police officers risk their lives each day they put on their uniform and under the current flawed criminal justice system, criminals are released after an arrest without any fear of repercussions of committing the same crime again,” he continued. “This is unacceptable and needs to stop.”

Gennaro criticizes Albany’s “soft on crime” policies

By Evan Triantafilidis

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City Councilman James Gennaro voiced his displeasure with the governor and the state legislature, claiming that Albany’s “soft on crime agenda” is to blame for not addressing rising crime and public safety concerns.

Gennaro pointed to a spike of major crimes in New York City, citing a nearly 60 percent jump in February compared to the same month last year. He expressed concerns with how the state has failed to allow judges to consider dangerousness when deciding whether or not to remand a defendant.

“New York State is the only state in the country whose judges cannot consider dangerousness with regard to defendants,” Gennaro said at a press conference held at Pomonok Houses on Monday morning. “And that has led to many defendants perpetrating repeat violent crimes.”

Gennaro, who represents portions of Kew Garden Hills, Pomonok, Electchester, Fresh Meadows, Hillcrest, Jamaica Estates, Briarwood, Parkway Village, Jamaica Hills and Jamaica, gave Governor Kathy Hochul a failing grade in regards to public safety.

“This failure of leadership on critical safety imperatives has led me here today to state that this represents a gross failure of leadership on the part of the governor and the state legislature,” Gennaro said. “And now that the state legislative session is over for the year, we have to wait for next year’s legislative sessions to hope for a functional and effective criminal justice system that the city and state needs and deserves.”

Joining Gennaro at the press conference were Tamika Williams-Moore, president of the Pomonok Houses Association, and Michael Nussbaum, president of the Queens Jewish Community Council.

Nussbaum stated that the criminal justice system in the state is, and has been, broken.

“It’s been broken for years,” Nussbaum added. “There has been a failure from the city level as well as the state level.”

He called upon Governor Kathy Hochul to call a special session of the state legislature in September to deal with the singular issue.

Williams-Moore said that two recent shootings in the NYCHA complex last month has residents fearing for their safety.

“As far as crime goes in our communities we see a lot of robberies, we see people breaking into cars, we see vandalism, but we don’t see a high incidence of murders, which we’re very proud about,” Williams-Moore said. “We want to keep it that way. And we would be happy if we had no shootings at all. So there has been years where Paumanok hasn’t had any shootings or murders. And we want to go back to those days. Those were the golden days.”

Orsolya Gaal’s alleged murderer confesses to crime

If convicted, Bonola faces up to 25 years-to-life in prison.

David Bonola, 44, of Richmond Hill is facing murder charges in the case of Orsolya Gaal, a 51-year-old mother of two from Forest Hills.

The body was discovered when a passerby noticed a suspicious bag located nearby Forest Park, was covered in blood. They immediately called 911 to notify the police. Upon their arrival, they discovered Gaal’s mutilated body was stuffed inside.   

According to ABC Eyewitness News, the victim had last been seen at the Forest Hills Station House the night before she was discovered in the park. The bar staff said that Gaal was a regular customer and that her recent visit was nothing out of the ordinary. 

It was shortly after Gaal returned to her home on Juno Street that Bonola entered the house. It is believed, based on several published reports, that Bonola knew of a spare key to the residence and had previously done work on the home. 

He and Gaal got into a verbal altercation in the basement of the house, which soon escalated to the point where Bonola allegedly slit her throat and stabbed her 58 times in the neck, torso and arm. 

According to Chief of Detectives James Essig, the pair had an on-again, off-again relationship in the past, and were romantically involved prior to the attack. Both Bonola and Gaal are married, but carried out an affair for the last two years. 

Video surveillance footage taken the night of the incident revealed that the defendant then dragged the duffel bag through the neighborhood up to Metropolitan Avenue and Union Turnpike, where she was found, leaving behind a trail of blood. 

Bonola confessed to the crimes after voluntarily returning to the precinct, eventually surrendering to police, who were led to find additional evidence including a knife, a jacket, boots, and a t-shirt which they believe he was wearing at the time of the murder. 

Essig said that there are no additional suspects in connection to the case at this time. 

Police also indicated that Gaal’s husband and one of her two sons were out of town visiting colleges on the West Coast, when her body was found. Her other son was asleep on the top floor of the house when the incident occured. 

Following the brutal attack, her husband received threatening texts from his wife’s phone, which Bonola later told police had been sent in an effort to take suspicion away from himself. 

Gaal previously made a post to a local Facebook group sharing concerns about increased crime in the area.

Gaal, who was active on social media, was a member of the Facebook group “Forest Hills, Rego Park, Kew Gardens – ‘Our Communities’” which is dedicated to the central Queens area where the incident took place. 

Eerily enough, in 2020, Gaal made a post sharing concerns for her safety in the community, and the measures she had taken to protect herself.

“Given the recent attack on a woman in Forest Park and the general uptick of crime and seedy characters in the neighborhood, I sought info here to get mace/pepper spray for my runs in the park,” Gaal wrote in the post.

Bonola was arraigned on Thursday night before Queens Criminal Court Judge Anthony M. Battisti on second degree murder charges, along with tampering with physical evidence, and criminal possession of a weapon. 

“Two boys are left without a mother and a young teenager faces the added trauma of being home when this heinous murder took place,” District Attorney Melinda Katz said in a statement about the case. “The defendant is now in custody and will be held to account for this horrific crime.” If convicted, he could potentially face up to 25 years-to-life in prison. 

Bonola has at least one prior arrest from back in 2013, according to NBC 4 News, but police have stated that it has no bearing on their investigation.

Forest Hills mom found dead in bloody duffel bag, stabbed nearly 60 times

A 51-year-old mother of two from Forest Hills was found deceased in a bloody duffel bag at the corner of Metropolitan Avenue and Jackie Robinson Parkway in Forest Park.

Orsolya Gaal was pronounced dead at the scene on Saturday, April 16, after the NYPD responded to 911 calls of a “suspicious bag with blood on it.”
Officers say that the trail of blood was followed to 72-24 Juno Street, where Gaal lived with her husband and two sons.

Gaal’s husband, Howard Klein, and their oldest son were out of town when she was killed.

Gaal reportedly told the youngest son, 13, that she would go out to see a show on Friday night, but at some point she met up with a man who police believe she knew.

It is believed that the man killed Gaal in the basement of her home, and dragged her body multiple blocks to the location in which she was discovered.

Surveillance footage revealed an individual appearing to drag a duffel bag through the streets of the quiet neighborhood.

Gaal’s 13-year-old son was brought in for questioning by the NYPD, but was later released.

PIX11 reports that police sources said that Klein received a text message from the man believed to have murdered Gaal.

The haunting messages allegedly read “Your wife sent me to jail some years ago. I’m back,” and “Your whole family is next.”

Gaal’s autopsy revealed that she was stabbed nearly 60 times in her neck, left arm and torso.

At the time of publication, no arrests have been made and the investigation remains ongoing.

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