Browsing articles in "Bronx News"
Aug 5, 2014

BRONX NEWS: Strip club in New Mexico named after the Bronx

What a boob.

A prospective strip club owner in New Mexico has raised the ire of an entire borough by naming his soon-to-open jiggle joint after the Bronx.

Jesse Hernandez, 53, has been fighting city officials and community members in Las Cruces, N.M., for two years over his plans to open a topless bar he has dubbed “The Bronx Nightclub.”

Hernandez told The News there was “no particular reason” behind the name and would not say if he has any ties to the borough.

“I have my reasons for calling it what I want to call it, and that’s it,” he said after refusing to answer a host of questions about the establishment.

Back in the Bronx, people had plenty to say about the naming of a nudie bar after their borough.

“It’s insulting,” seethed Rafael Salamanca, the District Manager of Bronx Community Board 2. “We’ve fought to change the image of the borough and to keep businesses like his out of our own community.”

Salamanca and others in the Hunts Point area have successfully helped rid their South Bronx neighborhood of five similar clubs in recent years.

“These clubs bring violence and a bad name, and that’s not what the Bronx is about,” Salamanca said. “Naming a place like that after the Bronx is ridiculous.”

Las Cruces, New Mexico’s second-largest city with just over 100,000 residents, has not had a strip club within city limits in almost two decades, and the fight to stop Hernandez resonated across the borough he hopes to name his club after.

“People taking the negative of the Bronx and cashing in on it, that’s pretty sick,” said Pastor Reggie Stutzman of Hunts Point.

Stutzman has made it his mission to convert a former strip club in the South Bronx into a home for the congregants of his Real Life Church.

“That stigma about the Bronx is still out there and we need to change that,” the preacher said.

Construction is underway on the southwest strip club, according to The Las Cruces Sun-News, a local paper. Hernandez faced opposition from neighbors, the city’s planning commission and the New Mexico liquor board, but says he’s moving forward with his plans and officials say there’s little they can do.

“I’d rather not necessarily have (one) in my city, but from a Constitutional standpoint he is allowed to have one,” Mayor Ken Miyagishima said. “Our lawyers tell us they are on strong ground and we can’t deny it, we have to let it go.”

Borough President Ruben Diaz Jr. wasn’t ready to drop it.

“This is despicable,” the Beep said in a terse statement. “And it further shows us why it is so important to get the world’s focus on the truth of our borough.”

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Aug 5, 2014

BRONX NEWS: MTA contractor crushed by industrial-sized battery

A 62-year-old electrical contractor was killed Tuesday morning when he was crushed by a massive battery being unloaded at a Bronx Metropolitan Transportation Authority facility, authorities said.

The unidentified man was unloading a heavy crate from a truck at the Throgs Neck Expressway facility near Pennyfield Ave. at about 8 a.m. when a 2,700-pound industrial-sized battery, known as an uninterruptible power supply or UPS, fell out of the crate and landed on top of him, police and MTA officials said.

“It fell off the back of the truck and crushed him,” MTA spokesman Adam Lisberg explained.

The battery pulverized the victim’s face, a source said.

The man died at the scene. His name wasn’t immediately released as MTA officials traveled to Pennsylvania to inform his family.

The victim was one of three men unloading the power supply. The other two men were not injured.

Police and the U.S. Department of Labor’s Occupational Safety and Health Administration were investigating the incident Tuesday, although no criminality is expected.

The MTA planned to install the UPS to upgrade the Throgs Neck administrative building’s electrical supply.

Workers at the facility operate and maintain the nearby Throgs Neck Bridge, officials said.

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Aug 5, 2014

BRONX NEWS: Waterfront nabes asked to brain-storm

East Bronx waterfront communities will get to weigh in on how million will be used to weather future storms, officials said.

The funds come from the state’s New York Rising Community Reconstruction Program, which was launched by Gov. Cuomo in 2013 to increase storm resiliency efforts and assist in rebuilding after Hurricanes Sandy and Irene and Tropical Storm Lee.

The program seeks input from residents in storm-vulnerable neighborhoods on how to best plan for the next cataclysmic event.

“Though rebuilding efforts continue, preparation and prevention for future storms is critical to mitigating damage,” said state Sen. Jeff Klein, who plans to brainstorm solutions with a coalition of community leaders, engineers and landscape architects.

“This innovative program allows those who understand our neighborhoods best to weigh in on what projects are the most high-risk,” he added.

Beach clubs were destroyed during Sandy, and sea walls in the mostly flooded coastal community were damaged, said Community Board 10 first vice chair John Marano.

But the majority of the area avoided disaster during the 2012 superstorm due to sheer luck, he said.

“We weren’t hit that bad during Sandy, but we have to think if the winds didn’t change that day … it could have been a lot worse,” Marano said.

Cuomo has allocated 0 million for the reconstruction program since its April kickoff last year, officials said.

It has been launched in 15 neighborhoods in New York City, including Canarsie and Gravesend in Brooklyn and Rosedale, Queens.

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Aug 4, 2014

BRONX NEWS: NYPD cop charged for burglary, beating in Bronx

A Bronx cop lauded on Medal Day for his heroics has been charged for breaking into a Bronx woman’s home and drunkenly assaulting her just hours after being honored, police said Monday.

The Daily News in June reported that Officer Eugene Donnelly was placed on modified duty — stripped of his gun and badge — after the startling June 11 incident.

Sources said Donnelly, 27, had begun drinking the night before in celebration of getting the Police Combat Cross, the NYPD’s second-highest honor, during a ceremony at One Police Plaza.

He crashed at a friend’s apartment in Woodlawn, then at some point woke up and left the building clad only in his underwear.

He returned a short time later and, apparently mistaking another apartment for his friend’s, broke down the door, sources said.

The loud bang awakened the 30-year-old woman who lives there, but before she had a chance to react he allegedly beat her while she was in her bed, punching her more than 20 times as she tried to get away.

Inexplicably, sources said, he then drank from a milk container that was in her refrigerator before fleeing the scene.

He was captured on surveillance video that police recovered and put on a wanted poster.

The flyer was posted at some locations in the Bronx before police realized the wanted man was Donnelly.

Donnelly, who earned the Police Combat Cross for arresting a gunman who had fired at him in the Bronx in May 2012, was charged Monday with misdemeanor assault and burglary.

He was suspended from the NYPD without pay.

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Aug 3, 2014

BRONX NEWS: Family mourns 11-year-old who drowned trying to save sister off Coney Island

A solemn group of family and friends bade farewell Saturday to an 11-year-old Staten Island girl who drowned trying to save her sister off Coney Island.

The mourners trickled into the Herbert T. McCall funeral home in the Bronx’s Morrisania neighborhood to pay their respects to Takara McDuffy.

McDuffy lay dressed in white in an open coffin, with dates sewn into the satin lining serving as a painful reminder of her short life: “Takara T. Murphy, 2003-2014”

“I couldn’t even imagine the casket being so little,” said family friend Avery Wilder, 45. “I’m just sad. I got three kids of my own.”

Takara and her 9-year-old sister were spotted struggling in the surf near Stillwell Ave. on July 22.

Good Samaritans managed to pull the girls to shore, but Takara died soon after arriving at Coney Island Hospital. A family friend said she went into the surf to rescue her sister from a rip current, but got trapped herself.

She was remembered as a bright girl who excelled in school and dreamed of becoming an actress.

“She was an all-around good girl,” said dad Keith Harris.

Takara’s mother was too distraught to attend the wake, friends said. “What do you do when you lose a child?” said family friend Vance Paul, 51. “I don’t think she could take it.”


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Aug 1, 2014

BRONX NEWS: Bronx pride restored after swiped Munson sign replaced

There was no ceremony or pomp and circumstance as a pair of city workers replaced a stolen street sign dedicated to Yankee legend Thurman Munson on Friday.

The “Thurman Munson Way” street sign, designating the intersection of 156th St. and Concourse Village East, had mysteriously vanished earlier this week.

Heartbroken Bombers fans welcomed its return — a day before the 35th anniversary of the former All-Star’s untimely death.

“I don’t know who would want to take something like that,” said nearby resident Clayton Epps, 48, who made a special trip to the corner Saturday to pay tribute to the fallen ballplayer.

“I’m glad it’s back,” he said. “It’s a sign of where we’ve been and who we are.”

The quiet street corner is a small, out-of-the-way nod to a gruff baseball giant who helped catapult the Yankees to two World Series wins during the turbulent 1970s.

Across the Grand Concourse, in the gleaming new Yankee Stadium, a plaque dedicated to Munson hangs in Monument Park.

His locker is also on display in the ballpark’s museum.

But neighbors say the little known memorial honoring the charismatic catcher who died in a plane crash at 32 is where Munson’s spirit lives on.

“Yankee pride isn’t just for the stadium or the ticketholders,” said Anthony Trowells, 56, an old-time Bombers fan. “It’s a borough thing.”

“It’s fitting that this street is named for Munson because it’s low-key,” he added. “The area’s a little rough around the edges, but it’s got a good heart. It’s the real Bronx.”

The sign had prompted 22-year-old Damien Rembert, who sells watermelons on the corner, to ask his mother about the ballplayer a few weeks ago.

“She told me about him and how he was an inspiration to the Jeters and the Posadas of our day,” he said. “It’s cool that they have this over here and not by the stadium.”

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Aug 1, 2014

BRONX NEWS: Curfew moved up 9 p.m. on Rikers Island: sources

Curfew’s coming early for Rikers Island inmates.

Starting Monday, lights will go out at 9 p.m. and inmates will be locked inside their cells for the night, the Daily News has learned.

The new curfew is a full two hours earlier than bedtime of 11 p.m.

Jail honchos hope locking inmates in their cells for most of the night will help stem the spike in stabbings and slashings plaguing the jail.

But some Rikers’ bosses are worried the early bedtime will have the opposite effect.

“We’re expecting pushback … maybe riots,” a top jail supervisor said. “All it will do is change the time the acts of violence occurs.”

Rikers’ officials decided on the new curfew after another bout of violence earlier in the week, when one inmate stabbed another, according to sources.

The altercation was broken up by correction officers, but not until one inmate sustained a “puncture wound on his chest and left ribs,” according to documents obtained by The News.

There have been nearly 50 inmate stabbings and slashings this year, compared with 17 for all of 2007, one of the lowest counts in recent years.

And attacks on civilian staffers, including medical workers and support staff, have also increased, from 11 to 28, over the first nine months of the last fiscal year compared to the previous year.

Rikers Island has had a series of high-profile incidents over the past year that have prompted internal investigations and outside calls for prisoner care reforms.

Last month, it was revealed that three Rikers Island officers allegedly beat a handcuffed inmate after Hurricane Sandy and lied about it later.

The officers punched, kicked Gabino Genao and beat him with their batons on Oct. 30, 2012, after he became verbally abusive when told to stay in his cell during the storm, according to authorities.

The officers handcuffed and moved him to a vestibule area and then knocked him to the floor, according to the Bronx district attorney’s office. The officers denied using a baton or hitting Genao.

There’s also been a spike in the number of mentally ill inmates being kept in cells on Rikers Island instead of getting them hospital treatment.

Nearly 40% of the approximately 11,000 daily inmates at Rikers are diagnosed with a mental illness. That’s a 24% increase from 2007 — a jump in part due to the closing of large mental hospitals.

Officials say about half the violence behind bars is carried out by mentally ill inmates.

Inmate Horsone Moore, 36, who arrived with a long history of mental illness, killed himself on Rikers on Oct. 14.

Moore was stopped on three previous suicide tries before he finally succeeded by hanging himself from a showerhead when left alone in a decontamination cell, The News reported last year.

Another inmate was slashed more than 100 times across the face, torso and legs in May by a rival gang member. Both men were deemed seriously mentally ill by staff.

Norman Seabrook, head of the Correction Officers’ Benevolent Association, told members in a video message to be prepared to switch to a 9 p.m. lockdown.

“We’re going to be right there with you… because (Correction Officers) run the jail system, not the Dept. of Mental Health, and not the inmates,” he said. “So when you’re out there at 9 p.m. next week we’ll be out there with you, making sure the job gets done, making sure you don’t get hurt.”

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Aug 1, 2014

BRONX NEWS: Bronx man, 51, shot in head in apartment building

A 51-year-old man was shot in the head and killed in a Bronx apartment building late Thursday night, police said.

William Sands, of the Bronx, was found with a gunshot wound to the head on the second floor landing of an apartment building on W. 165 St. near Anderson Ave. around 10:16 p.m., according to cops.

Emergency responders rushed sands to Lincoln Medical Center, where he died, police said.

Sands has a history of narcotics arrests and the killing is believed to be drug related, authorities said.

Cops were investigating the shooting.

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Aug 1, 2014

BRONX NEWS: Jury awards $3M to man beaten by cops in 2007

It took seven years, but Herminio Pizarro finally has some measure of justice after being beaten senseless by a gang of cops in a stationhouse bathroom.

That measure would be million.

A Bronx jury Thursday granted the multimillion-dollar award to the former state correction officer who says he still hasn’t fully recovered from the Aug. 4, 2007, beatdown at the 40th Precinct stationhouse after a confrontation at a street fair.

“They dragged me to the bathroom, two cops, and I said that I didn’t need to use the bathroom,” Pizarro told the Daily News. “There were five cops waiting for me in there. They threw me to the ground. They were kicking me, hitting me, punching me.”

Pizarro had two neck surgeries and lost his construction job.

“I can’t even dance with my lady,” he said.

The jury awarded million for pain and suffering and million in punitive damages, which Pizarro said ends years of stress. But he still wants the NYPD to investigate the officers involved.

“They lied,’’ he said. “They came here under oath and they were lying.”

The NYPD had no comment and wouldn’t say if it conducted an investigation when Pizarro filed his lawsuit in 2008. In court papers, however, police painted Pizarro as the aggressor in the Bronx incident.

They said he whacked Officer William Kelly over the head with a baton stolen from Officer Efrain Morales.

Pizarro was arrested on assault and robbery charges. But all charges were dropped.

“You never see that happen with an assault on a police officer,” said his lawyer, Raymond Gazer. “What does that tell you?”

Pizarro filed a wrongful arrest lawsuit, accusing cops of violating his civil rights and attacking him.

The day of the incident, Pizarro and his girlfriend, Olga Garcia, went to a fair sponsored by the precinct’s community council.

Both he and police agree Pizarro spoke up when officers approached a teenage girl he knows and her boyfriend about a beer bottle tossed near a patrol car. Pizarro said the teen was young and shouldn’t be arrested.

Morales said when he moved to arrest the boyfriend, a crowd gathered, tensions rose and Pizarro grabbed his baton and hit Kelly.

Kelly, who needed three staples to close his head wound, is quoted in the criminal complaint as saying Pizarro admitted to hitting Kelly with the baton. But the cop admitted in court that Pizarro made no such statement.

Gazer said he suspects Kelly was accidentally struck by Morales as Pizarro was being attacked. The baton has never been recovered.

Garcia, 58, said when she tried to help, three cops forced her to the ground and held her down, one sitting on her and exacerbating her longstanding back pain. She was not arrested, but she was a co-plaintiff in the lawsuit and was awarded 0,000.

Gazer said the names of the officers in the patrol car and the bathroom were never determined.

He said the jury determined Morales, the one named defendant in the suit, violated Pizarro’s civil rights by using excessive force and falsely arresting him.

Fay Leoussis, chief of the Tort Division for the Law Department, said the city is “disappointed with the verdict.”

“We are reviewing the record to determine our options going forward,” she said.

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Jul 31, 2014

BRONX NEWS: NYC principal lavishes on mistress gifts bought with school money: probe

Arrest in attack on Brooklyn teen

A man in an orange shirt, later identified as 18-year-old Tyler Hoppin, and an accomplice brutally beat and robbed a woman after following her into her apartment building in the Midwood neighborhood of Brooklyn, police say.

Cops busted one of two suspects in a brutal Brooklyn robbery. Tyler Hoppin, 18, and an accomplice dragged a teenage girl out of an elevator on Sunday in Midwood, pummeling the petite 18-year-old until she gave up her purse.

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Jul 31, 2014

BRONX NEWS: Bronx fire damages 3 houses, injuring 13 people, including 11 firefighters

Several Bronx residents narrowly escaped from their burning homes Wednesday afternoon after a fast-moving fire ripped through one house and then jumped to two others next door, the FDNY said.

Neighbors first called 911 around 1:55 p.m. when white smoke and flames erupted from a blue house on Hill Ave. near 241st St. in the Wakefield section of the Bronx.

Lukas Finch, 16, and Richard Baxter, 33, said they called the Fire Department after people starting running outside screaming for help.

“I saw people running from the blue house. There were three little girls and they were all panicking,” said Finch.

“When I looked up I could see the white smoke, it started to come from the front of the house and it began to turn black. My dad ran over there with the fire extinguisher to try and help,” the teen said.

A woman believed to be in her 70s had to be pulled away from the house by neighbors, Finch said.

“She kept screaming, ‘Oh God no, oh Jesus no!,” he related.

Baxter called 911 and then handed the phone to Finch while he ran to help.

The raging flames soon jumped from the blue house to a white house next door, witnesses said. A third house was also caught in the conflagration, the FDNY said.

Three young girls, all around the age of 10, ran out of the white house, said Baxter, along with a woman who appeared to be in her 30s and an older woman.

“The flames were crazy, they were huge. We didn’t think about the fire, we just wanted to make sure everyone was OK,” said Baxter.

Pooran Sanicharra, 58, lived in an apartment in one of the burned houses with his wife. They have resided in the home since they moved to the U.S from Guyana in 1995.

Sanicharra was at work when the flames broke out. He learned of the disaster when his wife called to tell him to come home quickly.

“My wife saw the fire in the other house, she saw the flames come over to where we live,” said Sanicharra.

“When I got home both homes were burning. Everything is all gone. I have to find a place to stay, buy some clothes, buy some food. I don’t know what we will do,” the distraught man said.

His wife made it out unscathed, he said. The couple said they’ll stay with friends down the street for the immediate future.

A Fire Department spokesman said the fire quickly escalated to a three-alarm blaze by 2:16 p.m. and then a four-alarm by 2:51 p.m.

It took until 3:35 p.m. for New York’s Bravest to bring the blaze under control.

The fire spread from the house at 4519 Hill Ave. to the two-story residential houses at 4515 and 4523 Hill Ave., the FDNY said.

Thirteen people were injured, including 11 firefighters.

One firefighter was seriously burned but is in non-critical condition. Two others were treated on site for their injuries. The other eight were taken to a nearby hospital for treatment for minor wounds.

Two civilians suffered some injury but refused medical attention, the FDNY said.

The Bronx blaze came just a day after a rookie firefighter fought through smoke and flames to rescue an unconscious boy trapped in a burning Brooklyn apartment.

Justin Tallett, 27, burst into the rear bedroom of the apartment around 11 a.m. Tuesday and found a 4-year-old boy motionless under a blanket and then carried him to safety, officials said.

The critically injured boy, identified as Trevele Belton, was resuscitated on his way to the hospital and is expected to survive.

Trevele’s two brothers — ages 5 and 8 — were also pulled from the blaze after the grandfather who had been watching them inexplicably bolted from the East New York apartment, leaving the children behind.

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Jul 31, 2014

BRONX NEWS: City accidentally moves inmate to Nassau County

This road to redemption does not go through Long Island.

Bumbling city jail officials accidentally transferred an inmate from Rikers Island to Nassau County Tuesday and then refused to come pick him up until the next morning, The Daily News has learned.

“This was a big breakdown,” a high-ranking city jail boss said.

Red-faced city and Nassau jail honchos are investigating.

Inmates who are facing criminal charges in other jurisdictions are regularly moved to jails closer to those courts.

On Tuesday night, Nassau officers picked up three city inmates, including Jahvon Bromfield, a suspected member of the Bloods street gang who is facing robbery charges.

During the ride to the Nassau clink, Bromfield became sick and the officers drove him to a nearby medical center, the source said.

That’s when they suddenly discovered he should never have been moved from his cell on Rikers Island in the first place.

“They asked us to get him,” the city jail source said.

But city jail honchos balked and only relented when a new shift came on in the morning, the jail insider said.

It remains unclear why Bromfield was ever moved.

The gaffe was the second one this month by authorities on Rikers. On July 15, a jail captain and two correction officers accidentally released a 23-year-old robber a year early. It took authorities a week to reel him back into jail.

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