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Apr 24, 2018
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BRONX NEWS: Minivan driver trying to parallel park kills 8-year-old boy


A minivan driver struck and killed her 8-year-old neighbor as she tried to parallel park in their Bronx neighborhood Monday night, police said.


The boy, Cellou Diallo, was part of a group of children getting a ride home from an after-school program from the minivan’s 34-year-old driver, cops and neighbors said.


The driver was pulling into a spot on E. 215th St. near Barnes Ave. in Williamsbridge just after 6 p.m. when she jumped the curb, hitting Cellou as he stood on the sidewalk, police said.


The minivan pinned the child against a cement wall, killing him, cops said.


“I killed a mother’s baby! I killed someone’s baby!” the driver wailed, according to Sharron Martin, 40, who saw the horrible aftermath.


“It just hit him out of nowhere,” said Beverly Taylor, who watched helplessly as the white Toyota minivan struck the boy. “I saw the little boy. He was just standing there. The car was parking and it just hit him.”


The driver got out of the minivan and tried to help, Taylor said.


“But there was nothing she could do,” she said. “He was already gone.”


The minivan’s driver was dropping off a half-dozen neighborhood children — four boys and two girls, including Cellou, Martin said.


“I felt for him because he didn’t live his life,” she said. “The kid never saw it happen. It was instant dead at impact.”


Cellou’s family gathered on Holland Ave., where he lived. His father, who was visibly distraught, declined comment.


The driver stayed at the crash site and officers were investigating. Police did not release the driver’s name Monday night.

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Apr 23, 2018
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BRONX NEWS: Chirlane McCray rolls out mental health program to help black men


The city will partner with fraternities and service organizations to offer more mental health help to black men, First Lady Chirlane McCray said Monday as she rolled out a program dubbed “Brothers Thrive.”


“People often feel more comfortable talking about these topics when they’re among people who look like them, people who they feel some kinship or affinity with,” McCray said. “It’s just easier to relax and know that their words will have meaning and validity and credibility.”


Members of the organizations — Alpha Phi Alpha Fraternity, Inc., Kappa Alpha Psi Fraternity, Inc., Omega Psi Phi Fraternity, Phi Beta Sigma Fraternity, Inc., Iota Phi Theta Fraternity, Inc., and 100 Black Men — will receive mental health first aid training from the city, which they can then use to reach out to those in their community who might be facing challenges.


McCray said she’d seen such challenges in her own home, where her father was emotionally reserved.

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“Even on Christmas Day, there just wasn’t much joy in our home,” she said. But after taking a mental health first aid course, she continued, “I realized that my father was probably suffering from depression.”


Deputy Mayor Phil Thompson said black men face “distinct and diverse challenges”— including living a life that he said is often “over-policed,” which can lead to trauma.


“I had a student who spent eight years in the Marines in Iraq, and he said the PTSD was worse where he came from than in Iraq,” Thompson said.


The city previously launched Sisters Thrive, which focuses on black women. McCray was joined by the Rev. Michael Walrond, Congressman Gregory Meeks and representatives from the fraternities and service groups at the announcement Monday.

NYC First Lady Chirlane McCray backs making pot legal

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Apr 22, 2018
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BRONX NEWS: CARIBBEAT: Virgin Islands come roaring back


An amazing display of teamwork and resolve — well underway by residents of the U.S. Virgin Islands, the federal government and even visitors — is restoring the hurricane-damaged American territory.


“The USVI is open for business” was the main message carried by Tourism Commissioner Beverly Nicholson-Doty, who was in New York recently with an list of the major recovery accomplishments made since Category 5 Hurricanes Irma and Maria hit the islands last September.


Items on the update list include all cruise ship ports open; power restored to all eligible customers; major, secondary and tertiary roads cleared; St. Croix’s Henry Rohlsen Airport and Cyril King Airport on St. Thomas open; and 40% of accommodations open with others actively being repaired and rebuilt.


Nicholson-Doty, who is a member of USVI Gov. Kenneth Mapp’s cabinet, noted that normalcy in the tourism sector greatly impacts the overall economy of the territory.

CARIBBEAT: Calypso Rose bound for Manhattan’s Highline Ballroom


Realistically, she says, “The rebuilding of our islands will go over several years” and will be “very strategic in terms of hardening the infrastructure and building resiliency,” noting the determination of residents and tourists who support the restoration efforts by continuing to visit.


For information, see the islands website at www.VisitUSVI.com.


‘WASH DAY,’ FOR YOUR HAIR


For Caribbean and African-American women, the agony and ecstasy of their hair is too-often a sizable slice of life — that’s now being captured in the new comic “Wash Day.”

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Through May 4, “Wash Day” writer Jamila Rowser, who has Puerto Rican and Dominican roots; and Vermont-based Jamaican cartoonist are running a Kickstarter campaign to support the self-publishing of a 27-page comic. The book’s script edits were done by J.A. Micheline.


Twenty-six-year-old Kimana, a thick-haired Bronx resident, is the lead “Wash Day” character, who grapples daily with her complex head of hair — in addition to the daily complexities of life.


For more information on the comic and an array of Kickstarter donation options, visit www.washdaycomic.com.


HAITIAN BUSINESS EXPO

CARIBBEAT: Census query is a big shock


The 14th Annual Toussaint L’Ouverture Symposium Business Expo returns Friday at Brooklyn Borough Hall, 209 Joralemon St., from 6 p.m. to 10 p.m., presented by the Habnet Chamber of Commerce and Brooklyn Borough President Eric Adams. For information and to RSVP, email info@habnet.com or call (718) 360-5971.


COMEDY IN ‘PARADISE’


March Tracey’s “Paradise Plum,” a Jamaica-set stage work rife with comedy, patois, obstacles and romance, comes to the Black Spectrum Theater Friday, Saturday and next Sunday.


The Black Spectrum Theatre in Roy Wilkins Park, 177th St. and Baisley Blvd. in Jamaica. For show times and tickets, call the box office at (718) 723-1800, or send email to info@blackspectrum.com or marchatracey@gmail.com.

CARIBBEAT: NFL’s Jason Pierre-Paul is traded from New York


VP’S VINYL COMEBACK


Marking the hey days of vinyl records and their current resurgence, VP Records/Greensleeves hosted its Record Store Day 2018 event Saturday at its Jamaica, Queens, retail store, featuring a lineup of top sound system music stars and exclusive vinyl releases such as “Phantom Dancehall” by DJ Spooky and ’Ganja Smuggling’ by Eek-A-Mouse. Visit www.vprecords.com.

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Apr 20, 2018
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BRONX NEWS: Cop fatally shoots himself in his car outside NYPD facility


A troubled on-duty NYPD cop fatally shot himself while parked outside a department facility in the Bronx Friday, authorities said.


He’s the fourth NYPD officer to take his own life in as many months, police said.


First responders rushed to an NYPD Auto Crime and Narcotics Division facility in Wakefield about 10:50 a.m., where the mortally wounded officer was found sitting in his personal vehicle in the parking lot.


Officers rushed him to Jacobi Medical Center, but he could not be saved. His name was not immediately disclosed.


Police sources said the cop worked in the Bronx, but it was not immediately clear if he was assigned to the Auto Crime and Narcotics Division.


Cops were first alerted to the incident by Mount Vernon police who had received a 911 call from a panicked relative, who said the cop was planning to harm himself, police sources said.


The cop is the fourth NYPD officer to take his own life this year.


On Feb. 26, Police Officer Rachel Bocatija, 26, killed herself in her Bushwick home. Her younger sister found her body in a locked room of the family home, a neighbor said.


On Jan. 13, Sgt. Joseph Pizzarro, 35, fatally shot himself in a room at the Hilton Garden Inn on Staten Island. Then, on Jan. 28, Detective Nicholas Budney killed himself at a restaurant overlooking the Hudson River in Orange County.


Following Bocatija’s death, Police Commissioner James O’Neill recording a YouTube video describing the services available to cops in distress.


“Your job requires that you spend your day helping others. But before you can take care of anyone else, you must first take care of yourself, so please, remember, if you need it, help is here, and help is available,” O’Neill said.


The NYPD offers a variety of programs, and in 2014 launched an “Are You OK?” campaign aimed at promoting mental health awareness.


The department also works with POPPA, or Police Organization Providing Peer Assistance, a volunteer support network for officers and retirees that offers help for post traumatic stress disorder, marital problems, substance abuse and suicide.

With Chelsia Rose Marcius

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nypd
wakefield

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Apr 20, 2018
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BRONX NEWS: Images released of subway graffiti left by taggers from Spain

[unable to retrieve full-text content]So what did you do on your spray-cation?
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Apr 20, 2018
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BRONX NEWS: Off-duty NYPD traffic agent charged with assaulting her teen son


Cops have arrested an off-duty NYPD traffic agent accused of assaulting her teenage son during a fight in their Bronx home, authorities said Friday.


Responding officers showed up at Shanequa Felder-Green’s home about 11:50 p.m. Thursday after she allegedly struck her 16-year-old son as they argued.


Cops charged her with acting in a manner injuries to a child and misdemeanor assault. Her arraignment was pending in Bronx Criminal Court Friday.

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Apr 19, 2018
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BRONX NEWS: Oceanside Grill brings sustainably sourced food to N.Y. Aquarium


Plenty of fish in the sea will be happy about this.


The New York Aquarium’s newly opened Oceanside Grill wants to change the way diners do dinner.


The Coney Island cafe offers sustainably sourced seafood and has totally eliminated single-use plastics — offering reusable and compostable utensils and other dining equipment.


“It’s an opportunity for the aquarium to have a restaurant out on the boardwalk, but also get our message out,” said Wildlife Conservation Society Vice President and Director of the New York Aquarium Jon Forrest Dohlin. “Responsibility and sustainability.”


Dohlin said it’s a matter of being considerate of Mother Earth and the creatures of the deep blue sea.


“It’s not too difficult to do, you just have to be thoughtful about it. The fact is, there are alternatives out there,” he said.


“Many of us don’t even need a straw. You can simply sip your drink straight from the cup.”


Using alternatives like paper, metal and glass keeps plastic out of the trash and, more importantly, out of the ocean.


Just a stone’s throw from the Coney Island Boardwalk, chefs at Oceanside Grill offer a wide range of delicacies like fresh fish tacos, fish and chips, and crab rolls — and they’re all sustainably sourced.


“We work with the Monterey Bay Aquarium in terms of sourcing the food and finding the right distributors,” Dohlin said.


“That seems to be the key thing to me — how (to) make change fairly simple for folks.”


Oceanside Grill at the New York Aquarium is now open to the public on weekends and will be dishing up meals seven days a week starting Memorial Day.

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coney island

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Apr 19, 2018
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BRONX NEWS: Shooter who killed man in Bronx hair salon was bitter over work


The shooter who killed a man in a Bronx hair salon before shooting himself in the leg a half block away was angry over the victim’s undelivered promises to get him work, police said Thursday.


Cops say Trafarrah Smith, 35, shot former business associate Kevin Higgins during a brawl in the Ambience Unisex Salon on White Plains Road near E. 220th St. around 8 p.m. Tuesday after he confronted Higgins for not following through on his word to find him construction jobs.


Police found the bitter job-seeker with a .32 caliber revolver and gunshot wound to the leg a half-block from the bloodstained beauty parlor, cops said.


Higgins, 47, was shot in the chest and rushed to Montefiore Hospital, where he died.


Smith, who lives nine blocks from the hair salon-turned-shooting gallery, was taken to Jacobi Medical Center, where he was treated for the self-inflicted wound.


He was charged with murder, manslaughter and criminal possession of a loaded firearm, police said.


His arraignment was pending.

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Apr 18, 2018
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BRONX NEWS: Bronx bully wanted for attacking teen girl with Chef Boyardee can

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Apr 18, 2018
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BRONX NEWS: Open-door helicopters banned from taking off in NYC


The city is officially banning “doors off” helicopter flights from taking off from within the five boroughs.


An open-door sightseeing flight — which took off from New Jersey, and is not covered by city rules — crashed in the East River last month, killing five people.


After the tragedy, the Economic Development Corporation plans to announce Wednesday that it has put new rules into its agreement with helicopter companies that take off from the Downtown Manhattan Heliport to prohibit the flights.


The heliport doesn’t currently have any open-door flights, but city officials say they want to make sure they’re not allowed to happen in the future.

Company in deadly helicopter crash postpones ‘doors-off’ flights


The Downtown Manhattan Heliport is the only spot within the city where tourists flights are allowed to take off.


After years of complaints about noise, the city struck a deal to cut the number of flights in half. But the deadly crash reinvigorated a debate about whether tourist flights should be banned altogether.


Passengers were strapped into extensive harnesses on the open-door flight — and are believed to have drowned after they were unable to escape the restraints when the chopper went down.


“It is our hope that by officially banning doors-off helicopter flights out of New York City, we will not only increase air safety within the five boroughs but also improve the quality of life for all residents,” said EDC President James Patchett. 

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Apr 17, 2018
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BRONX NEWS: Bronx hair salon shootout leaves one man dead, killer wounded

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Apr 16, 2018
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BRONX NEWS: FDNY denied aid for PTSD-stricken Ground Zero firefighter


Joe Battista lived the life of a hero — and it cost him his mind.


The retired FDNY firefighter who spent months at Ground Zero after the 9/11 attacks died in obscurity at a Florida mental hospital suffering from a crippling depression and posttraumatic stress disorder, his family said.


Battista’s long struggle with PTSD ended April 5, when he choked to death on some food while being cared for at the institution. He was 63.


Yet in life, and now in death, the FDNY has refused to grant Battista World Trade Center-related disability benefits — a move his grieving family members call “an outrage.”

FDNY firefighter killed by 9/11-linked cancer honored with plaque


“We’ve been fighting with them for years,” Joe Ciacco, Battista’s cousin, said at the retired smoke-eater’s wake in the Bronx on Friday night, where a handful of mourners stopped by to pay respects.


“The Fire Department has fought us tooth and nail.”


After responding to 9/11, Battista spent 31/2 months at Ground Zero, Ciacco said. He was then reassigned to the Fresh Kills landfill on Staten Island, where he stood by a conveyor belt and sifted through debris for human remains.


Battista, who before joining the FDNY had been a cop for two years, became a firefighter in 1982. He spent most of his career at Engine 90 in Morris Park, the Bronx, and responded to the Happy Land social club fire in 1990, where an arsonist with a grudge set fire to the illegal nightspot, killing 87 people.

FDNY hero who evacuated hundreds on 9/11 dies of cancer at 45


At Happy Land, Battista saw horrors that he could never forget, his cousin said.


“He would still break down when he would talk about it,” Ciacco remembered. “He said they didn’t have enough body bags to take care of the 87 kids.”


Retired colleagues said Battista scored well on his FDNY entrance exams, so he had his choice of firehouses. He chose Engine 90 because it was close to his mother’s house.


“Joe was a Bronx guy who stayed in the old neighborhood,” said retired Firefighter Brian Wynne, 61, who served in Engine 72 in Throgs Neck, the Bronx. “He was a throwback to an earlier time in New York.”

FDNY lieutenant dies of 9/11-related cancer months after retiring


Battista was the union delegate for Engine 90 and assisted in the recovery efforts in Hurricane Katrina-ravaged New Orleans in 2005.


But very few co-workers knew what became of him after he retired in 2007 and moved to Florida.


“I didn’t know he was institutionalized,” said one firefighter at Battista’s funeral at St. Dominic’s Catholic Church.


After becoming estranged from his wife and two children, Battista was involuntarily hospitalized in 2012 and 2013 because of suicidal thoughts and depression.

9/11 responders’ health treatment threatened by Trump budget plan


He was in and out of mental hospitals ever since. Through it all, doctors repeatedly linked his insomnia, depression and PTSD to what he experienced on 9/11, according to the lawsuit.


Beginning in 2013, Battista began petitioning the FDNY for World Trade Center disability retirement benefits, which would make his pension tax-free.


The FDNY denied his request at least four times, according to a lawsuit filed by Battista’s attorney calling on a judge to overturn the department’s decision.


In its findings, the FDNY’s medical board said Battista suffered from a form of early-onset dementia even though several psychiatrists diagnosed the retired firefighter with PTSD that could be linked to his work history.


“(They) are directly related to Mr. Battista’s services as a NYC firefighter during the 9/11 terrorist attacks at the World Trade Center,” Dr. Hector Corzo wrote in one finding in 2014.


Battista never received the World Trade Center benefits his family had hoped he would get.


Adding insult to injury, the FDNY declined to give Battista a WTC honors funeral because his choking “is not a covered WTC cause of death,” the FDNY said in a letter to Battista’s family.


“The FDNY (is) playing games and won’t take responsibility right up to today,” Ciacco said.


Battista had two funerals — one in Sarasota, Fla., put on by the local fire department and the other in the Bronx — and received funeral honors fitting a retired firefighter.


A color guard and several local fire companies attended the service at St. Dominic’s. Pallbearers brought out Battista’s casket to the sound of bagpipes.


Attorney Jeffrey Goldberg filed a lawsuit for Battista’s 9/11 benefits in March. A judge was set to hear the case in May, although the lawsuit could be rendered moot by Battista’s death, Goldberg said.


“The benefits was more about the recognition than the finances,” Goldberg said. “It really would have meant something to him and his family.”


The FDNY declined to comment on Battista’s fight for World Trade Center benefits, claiming it does not disclose the medical records of its members.


An FDNY source with knowledge of the case said that the department follows strict federal guidelines before it can award WTC benefits — guidelines that are outlined in the Zadroga 9/11 Health and Compensation Act.


The Victim Compensation Fund mostly covers physical issues such as cancer and respiratory ailments.


Battista received Zadroga compensation in August for chronic pulmonary disease and acid reflux he suffered that were linked to 9/11, relatives said.


At the wake, Wynne said he couldn’t believe Battista didn’t get the disability compensation he wanted.


“He had an astute understanding of fire union politics,” said Wynne.


“Who gets these benefits and who doesn’t is a mystery,” said Wynne while looking over Battista’s coffin. “It’s a mystery of faith.”

With Andrew Keshner

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daily news exclusives

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