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Archive for the tag 'coney island'

Photo: GREAT NEWS!! PO Rosa Rodriguez who was critically injured in the arson on April 6th opened her eyes yesterday for the first time and saw her children and gave them a thumbs up as they were talking to her. Please continue to keep Rosa and her family in your prayers as she continues to fight!!

Source: Courtesy of the New York Police Department Hispanic Society

Rosa Rodriguez, one of two police officers who responded to a Coney Island fire on April 6, is showing signs of improvement, according to the New York Police Department Hispanic Society.

The group posted on Facebook that Rodriguez “opened her eyes [Friday] for the first time and saw her children and gave them a thumbs up as they were talking to her.”

Her partner Dennis Guerra fared worse, making citywide headlines when he succumbed to his injuries three days after the fire. Sixteen-year-old Marcell Dockery is accused of starting the fire in 2007 Surf Avenue’s high-rise building because he was bored, and he has been indicted.

According to Brooklyn News 12, Dockery is the sole suspect in the case and faces charges of second-degree murder, assault in the first degree, arson in the fourth degree and reckless endangerment charges. If convicted, Dockery faces a maximum sentence of 25 years-to-life in prison.

Rodriguez is not expected to leave the hospital any time soon since “she continues to fight” her injuries, according to the Hispanic Society.

Source: minnepixel/Flickr

A fight broke out in Coney Island’s McDonald’s (1403 Mermaid Avenue) on Easter Sunday, spilling out into the street where two men were stabbed, one fatally.

DNAinfo reports:

The two men, neither of whose identities were immediately released, had been inside the fast-food restaurant at the corner of Stillwell and Mermaid avenues when the fight erupted just before 11 p.m., sources said.

In the melee, a 20-year-old man was stabbed in the gut and another man was stabbed in the lower back, police said. The 20-year-old was pronounced dead at Coney Island Hospital, police said.

The second man is in stable condition.

According to the Associated Press, the fight involved two “groups,” and investigators are piecing together the victims’ relationships to each other and the groups involved. They’re also still working to determine the number of people involved, and if the brawl was gang related.

There were no immediate arrests.

2007 Surf Avenue (Source: Google Maps)

Marcell Dockery, the 16-year-old who confessed to setting a mattress on fire in the hallway of a Coney Island public housing building last week, has been charged with an additional count of felony murder after one of the two police officers critically injured in the blaze passed away.

If convicted, Dockery faces a maximum sentence of 25 years-to-life in prison.

“The senseless act of setting that fire tragically led to the death of NYPD Officer Dennis Guerra. His partner Officer Rosa Rodriguez suffered critical injuries. Both dedicated and courageous officers did not hesitate to risk their lives to save others. We will bring the Defendant to justice for these terrible and horrific crimes,” said Brooklyn District Attorney Kenneth Thompson in a statement Friday evening.

Guerra, 38, a married father of four, succumbed to his injuries on Wednesday morning. His partner, Rodriguez, remain in critical condition but has a more optimistic prognosis.

The two were the first emergency responders to respond to the Sunday fire at 2007 Surf Avenue. They rode the elevator to the 13th floor, where the fire was believed to be. As the doors opened, they were engulfed in thick black smoke, and collapsed due to lack of oxygen.

Funeral services were held this morning for Guerra, and a wake was held over the weekend.

His death broke a three-year streak during which no police officer had been killed in the line of duty.

The NYPD is now overhauling its fire response protocol, including basic fire training that could have saved Guerra’s life. Officers are being instructed to take the stairs when possible. If they must use the elevator, they’re being told to check open shafts for smoke and to stop at least two floors below the fire.


by Kaara Baptiste

Shootings in the NYPD’s 60th Precinct, covering Coney Island, Brighton Beach and Gravesend, jumped nearly 85 percent last year, spiking to 24 incidents from 13 in 2012. The incidents included two fatal shootings in Coney Island within 48 hours of Christmas Day. Community leaders soon met to discuss collaborative anti-violence efforts, including a “violence interrupter” program, modeled after ones in Chicago and other parts of Brooklyn, to keep feuds from erupting into bloodshed.

The so-called “interrupters” stay close to the streets to diffuse conflicts and steer youth toward a productive path. The Coney Island Step Up program, as it is tentatively called, just received a $15,000 grant from the city.

Ronald Stewart, a Coney Island resident since 1955, is one of these interrupters. Stewart, 63, is a New York State parole officer, serving in Brownsville since 1992. He founded Men United for Change, a mentoring program for adolescent and teen boys. Here, he shares his thoughts on Coney Island’s violence and why intervention is crucial.

Coney Island has long had a reputation for crime. What’s different about the latest spate of shootings?

Coney Island is a unique place. Crime happens everyday here, like other places. But because Coney Island is so small, the deaths are really magnified. The violence happens in intervals, not consistently. It’s mostly young people. They might have a beef; it may be drug related. But ours is much different than other parts of Brooklyn, like Flatbush, Brownsville, because those are bigger places and crime is more consistent. So we’re trying to take some of what [organizations such as Man Up!, in East New York, and Chicago Interrupters] are doing and develop it to something that fits Coney Island.

Violence interrupter programs rely on relationship-building to reach at-risk youth. Why would the young people in Coney Island listen to you?

[These young people] will talk to me before they talk to their mother. As we developed Men United for Change, I realized that we don’t talk to our youth. Other cultures have communication between young and old. But we’ll walk by our young people and not say anything to them. We feel intimidated. We see their pants sagging down; they look tough, they look mean.

I have developed a certain amount of respect among them because I never talk down to them. James Baldwin, the great writer, once said young people don’t listen to what you say, they watch what you do. This generation is quick to tell you, “Don’t preach to me!” They want you to communicate with them.

What kind of intervention does the team of interrupters have in mind?

We’re going to concentrate on doing street walks. We will target the different places where young people congregate – street corners, lobbies in project buildings, McDonald’s, the Chinese restaurants. We’ll pass out fliers with imagery and a few bullet points about what violence does to the community. The message is: “This is your community.” But we also plan to talk to them, just “What’s up? What’s going on, man?” Black males feel so vulnerable because no one talks to them. Then we want to go into the junior high schools.

Why target junior high schools?

These are the age groups where beefs are starting to happen. They’re at the crossroads of their life. They’re very impressionable and easily distracted. We’d like to do assemblies, even bring in former gang members, to let them know violence is not the way to go.

How did community work become such a consistent theme in your life?

In my adolescent years, Coney Island was in transition due to urban renewal. My mother was involved in community work and would take me to the meetings. There’d be a lot of shouting, people organizing protests, making sure people were involved. I was involved with Coney Island Youth Development program, and I became a member of the Nation of Islam in 1965. At the time, the Black Panthers and the Southern Christian Leadership Conference were active. Then Martin Luther King Jr. was assassinated, and that caused a movement! And I was part of all that. It gave me a sense of consciousness and activism. And it was a lot of fulfillment for me.

Why did you become a parole officer?

I saw the ad in the Amsterdam News [in 1990] and read the description and qualifications. It talked about dealing with ex-offenders and bringing them back to the community, helping them be better citizens and making the community safe. That’s part of what I did anyway [as director of the Carey Gardens Community Center, at one of Coney Island’s housing projects], so I said “Ohhh…”

How did Men United for Change start?

I thought that young black males are at risk. They are, all over the country, whether it’s violence against each other or from others. So I felt we needed to have a program that addressed the needs of young black males; that’s how Men United for Change started.

In your opinion, why are black males at particular risk?

[Many are] raised in families where they see a lot of fighting but no crisis intervention. Sometimes they take that anger out on their peers or people around them. They must see themselves as being valuable in society. But they don’t see that, so they feel outside. In school, the curriculum is not about them and most of their teachers [white females] have no idea how to relate to them. So they carry a lot of pain and disillusionment. That translates into lashing out in anger and they’ll fight quicker. Even the ones [who are] going to school, trying to navigate society without conflict, feel afraid because they don’t fit in anywhere.

You plan on retiring as a parole officer this spring. What are your plans for retirement?

I want to devote more time to Men United for Change. Plus, I want to travel. I never had the chance to travel, believe it or not [outside of parole duties]. I want to visit Mexico, Brazil, Arizona, to see the Hubble telescope. I love science. I’m writing a memoir about growing up in Coney Island. It’s called The Other Side of Dreamland: Growing Up Black in Coney Island. I want to put more time into that.

2007 Surf Avenue (Source: Google Maps)

The death of NYPD Officer Dennis Guerra, who succumbed yesterday to injuries sustained from the Coney Island fire set by a “bored” teen, marked a tragic milestone for the entire city. At 6:50 a.m. yesterday, he became the first cop to be killed in the line of duty since December 2011.

Hundreds of friends, family and colleagues gathered outside the hospital looked on as approximately 100 officers stood at attention in silence as Guerra’s flag-draped body was wheeled out of the hospital and into an ambulance.

The memorial service and funeral are still being planned. His partner, Rosa Rodriguez, remains in critical condition, although her doctors are optimistic about her recovery.

Meanwhile, the family of 16-year-old Marcell Dockery, the teen who confessed to lighting a mattress in the hallway on fire out of boredom, came forward yesterday to apologize for Dockery’s actions.

“This has been a tragedy, not only for one family but for many families. So, right now we are just apologizing, openly apologizing and saying God be with those officers,” a family spokesperson told News 12.

The incident will also lead to a policy change at the NYPD, according to Commissioner Bill Bratton. Currently, the NYPD does not have a policy in place about officers using an elevator when responding to a fire, even though elevators can become deadly traps. When firefighters use them during a fire, they take the elevator to a nearby floor below the fire, and use the stairs the remainder of the way. The NYPD will assess the best way of responding in such incidents, and create a policy to better protect officers in the future.

Officer Dennis Guerra, one of the two officers critically injured after rushing into a burning Coney Island apartment building to help residents, died from his injuries early this morning.

Guerra, 38, a married father or four, was first declared brain dead and on life support yesterday. This morning, at 6:50 a.m., he further slipped away and was pronounced dead at Montefiore Hospital in the Bronx, according to the New York Post.

“We lost a good man this morning. Officer Guerra was exemplary – he went to try to help people in need. Our hearts go out to the Guerra family – we will stand by them,” said Mayor Bill de Blasio. “I have gotten to know his family in the past few days, a wonderful family,” the mayor said. “On behalf of all 8.4 million New Yorkers, our hearts go out to them.”

Guerra was an eight-year veteran of the force.

His partner, Rosa Rodriguez, 36, remains in critical condition, and a family member told the Daily News that “She’s doing much better,” and that doctors believe she may make a full recovery.

The two were injured after they rushed into a New York City Housing Authority building at 2007 Surf Avenue in response to a fire on Monday. They arrived mere minutes after the call and took the elevator up to the 13th floor.

When the doors opened, thick black smoke blasted into the elevator. Rodriguez and Guerra called for backup, and were heard over the police scanners gasping for breath before becoming unresponsive to the dispatcher’s calls.

Dockery (Source: Facebook)

Dockery (Source: Facebook)

Police arrested 16-year-old Marcell Dockery, a tenant in the building who reportedly confessed to lighting a mattress on fire in the hallway because he was “bored.” The fire spread more quickly than he anticipated, and he fled to his apartment on another floor.

Dockery has been charged with two counts of assault, one count of arson, and one count of reckless endangerment.

The district attorney may tack on felony murder charges for the death of Guerra.

His mother also faces eviction from the building because of his actions.

2007 Surf Avenue (Source: Google Maps)

Police arrested 16-year-old Marcell Dockery yesterday, charging him with setting the fire on the 13th floor of the Coney Island apartment building at 2007 Surf Avenue that left two cops fighting for their lives.

Dockery (Source: Facebook)

Dockery (Source: Facebook)

Dockery was also charged separately yesterday in connection to the armed robbery of a 60-year-old neighbor.

The Daily News reports:

Dockery, 16, was hit with two counts of assault, one count of arson and one count of reckless endangerment, officials said.

And if either officer dies, he could face felony murder.

“He said he was bored,” a police source said. “He’s a firebug.”

Dockery, whose rap sheet includes a previous arrest for lighting a fire, started the inferno Sunday by torching a mattress in the 13th floor hallway of the NYCHA building where he lives, police said.

When the flames became too fierce, Dockery tried to stomp them out and then ran to his cousin’s pad on the same floor for help, according to cops.

They returned to the burning mattress, but the fire was burning out of control so they ran downstairs to Dockery’s 12th floor apartment and called 911 for help, the sources said.

Dockery confessed to the crime after the arrest.

Later in the day, cops tacked on robbery and grand larceny charges after a 60-year-old neighbor told police she recognized Dockery as the teen who threatened her with a razor blade and stole $10 on March 7.

The New York City Housing Authority plans to terminate Dockery’s mother’s lease as a result of her son’s actions, although she could be given a reprieve if she signs a document barring Dockery from the property for life.

The two officers critically injured in the blaze, Rosa Rodriguez, 36, and Dennis Guerra, 38, continue to fight for their lives in the hospital.

2007 Surf Avenue (Source: Google Maps)

2007 Surf Avenue (Source: Google Maps)

Two of New York’s Finest are in critical condition after a fire ripped through the 13th floor of 2007 Surf Avenue in Coney Island. The fire appears to have been set on purpose, when someone ignited a mattress.

NYPD Housing cops Rosa Rodriguez, 36, and Dennis Guerra, 38, were the first on the scene 12:30 p.m., and took the elevator to the 13th floor.

When the elevator doors opened, they were engulfed thick, black smoke. They took a few steps out before falling to the ground and suffering smoke inhalation.

A recording of the police radio broadcasts posted to YouTube captures the terrifying moments after Rodriguez and Guerra took on the smoke.

“85! 85!” Guerra breathlessly shouts into the radio after the elevator doors open, indicating a call for assistance. Rodriguez is also heard giving the location through gasps. Other officers began scrambling to the location from across the command.

“Can’t breathe! Can’t breathe!” shouted Guerra. Moments later he shouted his location – “13!”

It was the last communique from either Guerra or Rodriguez. The dispatcher’s calls to “housing portable” – the designation for Rodriguez and Guerra – were met with long moments of silence.

Another housing officer who had been watching on the building’s surveillance cameras directed other police and the FDNY to their location.

“They were heading upstairs and as soon as the elevator doors opened the smoke went in there. So they should be in there. They never had the time to come out,” the officer told her colleagues over the radio. Her view of them was cut off as soon as the smoke rolled into the elevator’s cab.

Firefighters first checked the elevators, but found them empty. The victims had made it a few steps out before collapsing.

As firefighters headed to the floor to rescue them, police coordinated an escort for the EMS to hospitals. The road to the Belt Parkway was shut down, as was the highway itself.

Guerra was taken first to Coney Island Hospital. A helicopter landed on Lincoln High School’s field nearby, which was used to airlift Guerra to Jacobi Medical Center.

Both cops remain in critical condition. The Daily News reports:

A hyperbaric chamber was being used to treat Rodriguez, a mother of four, at New York-Presbyterian Hospital Weill Cornell. Her esophagus was burned, sources said.

Doctors at Jacobi were treating Guerra, a father of four, officials said.

The New York Times reports:

The police said that a mattress, found burned in the hallway, appeared to have played a role in the blaze, which drew more than 70 firefighters.

… The fire was brought under control by 1:30 p.m., the Fire Department said. Three firefighters and nine residents were treated at the scene; one resident was hospitalized at Coney Island Hospital with non-life-threatening injuries.

The building was not evacuated.

The New York Post is reporting that someone had intentionally lit a mattress on fire in the hallway.

A resident who saw the blaze through her apartment peephole said someone had lit a mattress in the hallway, sparking the blaze.

“Housing usually comes in the morning and takes trash down. Today, someone pulled out a mattress from a back stairwell and didn’t bring it down,’’ said 13th-floor resident Yolanda Vargas.

“By the time I looked through my peephole, all I could see was flames,” Vargas said.

“I went to the back window, opened the window and waited for the firefighters to tell us what to do,” she said.

A woman and a young man who appeared to be around 15 were taken from the scene by officers for questioning, sources said.

The Daily News reports that a suspect was in custody as of late Sunday night.

Apple Bank on 86th Street, via Google Maps. Inset: Rodriguez, via Brooklyn DA's office

Apple Bank on 86th Street, via Google Maps. Inset: Michael Rodriguez, via Brooklyn DA’s office

The man police believe attempted the March 26 robbery of Apple Bank at 1973 86th Street is now in handcuffs, and is accused of going on a 10-day bank heist spree that hit three banks successfully before being turned away at the Bensonhurst branch.

Brooklyn District Attorney Ken Thompson announces charges against Michael Rodriguez, 33, accusing him of robbing three banks and attempting to rob a fourth, all between March 16 and March 26.

Rodriguez faces multiple charges of larceny and robbery, among others, after making off with more than $23,000 in total.

“We simply will not allow anyone to rob our banks in broad daylight and terrorize bank tellers in the process. We will hold the Defendant accountable for this bank robbery spree,” Thomspon said in a release.

According to prosecutors, Rodriguez allegedly walked into each bank and handed the bank teller a hand-written note – all in the same pen, type of paper, and identical wording including misspellings.

The note demanded money and said he had a gun. The suspect never spoke a word.

Surveillance footage captured the suspect, believed to be Rodriguez, in each of the locations, wearing a hooded black full-length North Face coat.

According to prosecutors, Rodriguez’s first heist was the Flushing Bank, 4616 13th Avenue, where he made off with $5,761 on March 16. Then he scored $485 from Investor’s Bank at 431 Court Street on March 19. Two days later, he allegedly hit another Flushing Bank, this time at 7102 3rd Avenue, where he netted a whopping $16,943.

On March 26, he hit Apple Bank at 1973 86th Street. Bensonhurst Bean was the first to report on the robbery, and the DA notes that the suspect was turned away by a teller.

Following that job, Rodriguez was busted the very same day. He was cuffed at his 2860 West 23rd Street home in Coney Island. The DA said police matched the defendant’s fingerprints to those found on a note from the March 19 incident. The note from the Bensonhurst job was found in the defendant’s car after his arrest.

The Trump (Source: Google Maps)

Luna Park Houses (Source: Google Maps)

A 93-year-old survivor of the Holocaust died Monday morning after a fire ripped through his 15th floor apartment.

Lipa Briks, who fled Poland in the 1930s, was pulled unconscious from his burning apartment at the Luna Park complex at 2954 West 8th Street shortly after 1:15 a.m.

He was taken to Coney Island Hospital, where he died.

He lived alone inside the apartment.

Fire marshals said yesterday that the blaze was caused by faulty electrical wiring.

“He escaped the Nazis, he escaped the Soviet army, he escaped an anti-Semitic Polish regime, but he couldn’t escape the fire,” Briks’ friend and neighbor Michael Bar told the Daily News. “He was the only one in his very large family to survive the Holocaust.”


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