Saturday, May 30, 2015

Update: Battery Park Tourist Scalper Scam - Queens Resident Arrested

Yesterday close to a dozen SJQ  Sightseeing Tours personnel worked in front of the Bowling Green subway station soliciting customers.  The group, Sales Justify Quota Tours LLC, is listed as a business working out of an apartment on Mexico Street in Queens,  they have no valid Parks Department permit to sell tickets.  The tourist scam has been operating in broad daylight  for years ripping off customers with little or no interference from authorities. (Photos: Geoffrey Croft/NYC Park Advocates) Click on images to enlarge.


By Geoffrey Croft

A team of illegal ticket sellers has been preying on unsuspecting tourists for years, NYC Park Advocates has learned.

The ticket scalpers are working in some of the most heavily visited downtown tourist destinations -  Statue of Liberty,  Staten Island Ferry, and Pier 15, (South Street Seaport) 

The unscrupulous scammers sell Statue of Liberty tickets for between $ 80 - 100 dollars: re-sell used Statue of Liberty tickets:  Sell people tickets to the Staten Island Ferry and charge people $ 20 just to enter Battery Park, a public park on the tip of Manhattan.
The group wear dark blue official looking tourist operator vests that say, SJQ  Sightseeing Tours.

Depending on who you speak with SJQ stands for South Jamaica Queens, or Sales Justify Quota Tour.    

On the Look Out.   The ubiquitous SJQ  Sightseeing Tour group has been a fixture since at least 2014 working in lower Manhattan.

They have been a fixture in lower Manhattan operating in broad daylight since at least last year. 

On Wednesday one of their employees,  career criminal Gregory Reddick, 54,  of 118 Road  in Jamaica  Queens,  was busted after leading park police on a wild chase in lower Manhattan.

Parks Enforcement Patrol officer Jean-Baptist Joseph, 33, saw Reddick on Pier 15 as he was allegedly in the act of conning tourists out of cash.

The PEP officer approached Reddick and asked him for ID. He refused cursed at him and ran away.

The officer called for back up.  PEP officers tracked him down a half mile away in Battery Park. 

Another officer approached the con and asked him for ID.

"F*ck off off,  I ain't givin you shit," he responded, according to an officer at the scene.

He ran, and the officers caught up to him. He resisted arrest and officers maced him twice in order to get him to comply.  

A large group of Reddick's associates formed during the arrest,  yelling and screaming. 

An NYPD officer in the park said that on Monday - two days before Reddick's arrest  - he had received a compliant that Reddick had sold two tickets to the Statue of Liberty to a Virginia couple for $ 409  dollars. 

"The US Park police also told us they have also been getting a lot of complaints that these SJQ guys are getting aggressive and forcing people to buy tickets," a PEP officer said. 

Reddick told law-enforcement sources he made $ 3000 the day he was caught. He had 
$ 400 cash on him at the time of his arrest.

Two Park Enforcement Patrol officers were assigned to the area after an SJQ  Sightseeing Tours employee was arrested.

Reddick’s arrests date to the 80's and include six felony convictions,  multiple burglary and criminal possession of stolen property convictions, law-enforcement sources said.

On Wednesday he was charged with Obstructing Governmental Administration In The Second Degree, Resisting Arrest, Unlawful Vending in a New York City Park, and Disorderly Conduct.

SJQ  Sightseeing Tours, AKA  Sales Justify Quota Tours LLC,  has no valid Parks Department permit to sell tickets. 

Read More:


Man Arrested For Allegedly Selling Tourists $400 Tickets For Free Staten Island Ferry Ride

Park advocates call for crackdown on illegal tour vendors targeting tourists
May 30, 2015 - By ELLYN MARKS

Man scams tourists on Staten Island Ferry

 New York Post - May 30, 2015 -  By Rich Calder

Wednesday, May 27, 2015

Baby Dies In Private Park In Queens


By Geoffrey Croft

A 10-week-old baby girl was found unconscious and unresponsive this afternoon in a privately owned Forest Hills park.  

At approximately 12:30pm police responded to a 911 call of an unconscious baby inside Hawthorne Park, located at Borage Place and Burns Street within the confines of the 112th Precinct. 

EMS responded and transported the infant in a "life threatening condition"  to North Shore Hospital  but  doctors were unable to save her. 

She was pronounced deceased at the hospital. 

The Medical Examiner will determine the cause of death and the investigation is ongoing.
 The child was with her mother and a friend at the park when baby lost consciousness after vomiting.  
The deceased has been identified as  Zoey Kaplan of Dartmouth Street in Queens, NY.

Hawthorne Park one of four private parks owned by the Forest Hill Gardens Corporation. 

Tuesday, May 26, 2015

Central Park Robberies Up 125% - Crime Up 64% Overall


By Geoffrey Croft

Robberies in Central Park have jumped 125%  and overall crime in the park increased by 64%  over the same period last year according to the latest crime numbers released today. 

Central Park Crime numbers - as of midnight last night -  May 28th

Murder 0 vs 0
Rape 0 vs 0
Robbery 9 vs 4 -  up  125%
Felony Assault 1 vs 1
Burglary 0 vs 0
Grand Larceny 13 vs 8 - up 62.5% 
Grand Larceny Auto 0 vs 1
Overall Crime 23 vs 14 up 64.3 %

Source: NYPD comstat.

Detectives Socha & Lynch Honored In World's Fair Bombing Tragedy Anniversary

Flushing Meadows Corona Park - July 4, 1940. A time bomb exploded killing Detectives Joseph Lynch and Ferdinand “Fred” Socha who seconds earlier had confirmed it was a bomb. The device was discovered in the British Pavilion at the  1939/40 World's Fair in Flushing Meadow Park and removed to a remote location behind the Polish Pavilion. The case is still unsolved and remains open after 75 years. 


By Geoffrey Croft

The NYPD Bomb Squad will conduct a wreath laying Ceremony for the 75th Anniversary of the World’s Fair Ground bombing. The ceremony will be held in Flushing Meadow Park at 10 AM on July 11th  near the Queens Museum of Art by the memorial plaque honoring two detectives and other officers who were injured. 

Detectives Joseph Lynch and Ferdinand “Fred” Socha were tragically killed on July 4th, when a bomb  they were inspecting suddenly exploded during the 1939/40 World’s Fair.   Four others were seriously injured.  

The detectives - members of the department’s Bomb and Forgery Squad - were killed while they were investigating a mysterious package which turned out to be a time bomb.  

Cops killed at 1940 World’s Fair to be honored

Detectives Ferdinand Socha (right) and Joseph Lynch were killed at the World's Fair in Flushing Meadows Corona Park on July 4, 1940. The Lynch family lived in the Kingsbridge section of the Bronx and his partner Freddie Socha lived in the Polish community in Greenpoint, Brooklyn.

Those attending this year’s memorial ceremony include Easter “Essie’’ Miles, 85, the eldest  and only surviving of Lynch’s five children who was in the hospital battling osteomyelitis, a chronic and painful bone infection when her father was killed. 

“My mother didn’t tell me my father had died until I returned home in August,” said Ms. Miles,  who was 10 at the time. 

“She was the real heroine; taking care of five kids with the youngest only 22 months.”

An electrician found a suspicious satchel emitting a ticking sound, in a “fan room,” inside the British Pavilion according to reports at the time. 

Lynch’s daughter Easter "Essie" Miles holding photographs honoring her father will be at the July 11th  ceremony in Flushing Meadow Park. Essie was a 10-year-old schoolgirl in the hospital battling  osteomyelitis, a chronic and painful bone infection, when her father was killed. (Photo: Douglas Healey)

After receiving a tip about a suspicious package Detective Frederick Morelock removed the canvas bag and placed it under a tree in an unpopulated area behind the Polish Pavilion near the Van Wyck Expressway.

Detective Socha was off duty, but told his partner that if anything came up, he’d accompany him even though it was a holiday, according an account on the Detectives' Endowment Association website.

An hour before he was scheduled to go off-duty, Detective Lynch received a telephone call at home. A suspicious satchel had been discovered inside the British Pavilion at the World’s Fair. 

Emergency Service Squad personnel had cordoned off the location pending the Bomb Squad’s arrival.  Detective Lynch told his wife not to worry and that he’d be back in time for supper, and to go later to visit their eldest daughter, Essie, who was in the hospital. 

Lynch borrowed his sister’s car and picked up Socha en-route to the fairgrounds. The pair arrived at the location and learned that the satchel had been placed under a maple sapling next to a service road near where the elevated portion of the Van Wyck Expressway currently runs through Flushing.  After a briefing by police brass, the Detectives advanced toward the satchel to make a visual inspection. 

Margaret Fleming bending over the body of one of the dectives killed by a time bomb

Margaret Fleming, a nurse at the Fair is seen bent over the body of one of the defectives killed by the time bomb. In the background the second detective is being carried off.

Protective gear had yet to be invented, so they were only wearing business suits, the same as other Detectives. They carefully lifted the satchel off the ground and examined it thoroughly. Although a ticking sound was coming from inside the satchel, there was no way to confirm that it actually contained a live bomb (and most bomb runs turn out to be hoaxes). 

They decided they needed to peer inside to be certain. Lynch carved a small hole in the thin wood veneer of the satchel and peeked through it.  

He advised in a hushed voice, “It’s the business” — meaning the bomb was real. 

Those were his last words. The bomb suddenly exploded.

World’s Fair British Pavilion Bombing
New York City Police Detective Frederick Morelock, speaking with Police Commissioner  Lewis Valentine and Mayor Fiorello LaGuardia (seated on auto bumper) after the bomb detonated killing the two Detectives and critically injured five others.  Detective Morelock bravely carried the bomb to the rear of the Poland Pavilion.  Shrapnel from the blast penetrated  Morelock's left shoulder and back.   Detective Joseph Gallagher lost an eye.  Mayor LaGuardia presented posthumous Medal of Honor awards to the families of the officers for their, "Conspicuous bravery."

The closed casket wake was held in the family's living room in the Bronx where a reported five thousand mourners came to pay their respects. 

Yankee Legend Babe Ruth was one of the visitors.   

On May 27, Mayor Fiorello LaGuardia posthumously awarded  the officers the Medal of Honor  for their, "Conspicuous bravery."

"It was a tragedy, but it could have been worse," Police Commissioner Lewis Valentine said noting that it was "only a miracle that hundreds of fairgoers weren't killed."

168,000 were in attendance at the Fair that Independence Day according to news accounts. 

The case is still unsolved and remains open after 75 years.

Today, a plaque and stone marker commemorating their heroism is located outside the Queens Museum of Art in Flushing Meadow Park where the ceremony will be held on July 11th.

The building is the last original structure remaining from the 1939-40 New York World’s Fair.

New York Daily News headline, July 5, 1940.

Read More:

Cops killed at 1940 World’s Fair to be honored 
New York Post - May 25, 2015 - By Philip Messing 

Queens Chronicle -  July 8, 2010 by Liz Rhoades  

New York Times - August 3,  2008 - By Michael Pollak

The Brooklyn Eagle - May 5, 1941

Monday, May 25, 2015

Central Park: Teen Robbed In Daytime


A 16-year-old was robbed on Saturday afternoon in Central Park.  

The brazen daytime robbery occurred on a park path near 79th Street and Fifth Avenue at 4:00pm.

The thief took $18.   

Police would not release any statements made to the victim. 

The assailant is described as a black male in his 30's,  bald, wearing a black jacket.

- Geoffrey Croft

Read More:

Robbed teen is 19th Central Park victim this year
New York Post -  May 25, 2015 - By Dana Sauchelli and Harry Shuldman

Tavern on the Green's Beer Garden Opens With Free Beer

Next Upper West Side Hot Spot? Located on the northern side of the newly renovated building the space can seat up 100 people and will be opnen till 1am on weekends.
 (Photos: Geoffrey Croft/NYC Park Advocates) Click on images to enlarge


By Geoffrey Croft

Tavern on the Green's Beer Garden quietly opened on Friday in time for Memorial Day Weekend after a three week delay. 

The oudoor space is located on the north side of the building and can seat up to 100 people. 

The modest set up features three differant kinds of beer.  

The struggling eatery has been offering a complementary beer to visitors since opening.

"I guess they just want you to order food but the prices are way too high,"  said a Canadian tourist yesterday.  

"Eighteen dollars for a hamburger, come on."

Tavern continues on their high price points for food. Fare includes a soft pretzel with mustard ($ 9)  hamburger- with pickle ($18) and a Polish Kielbasa ($28). 

It will be open daily from noon to 11 p.m. and 1 a.m. Friday and Saturday and till 11pm during the week. 

Menu for newly opened Tavern On The Green Beer Garden.

A pleasant host greets you and checks ID's.

 Complimentary beer ticket.

(Photos: Geoffrey Croft/NYC Park Advocates) Click on images to enlarge

Friday, May 22, 2015

Teen, 16, Stabbed In Queens Playground Gang Attack - Police Make Arrest

Cops last week searched for evidence and clues inside London Planetree Playground after a teen boy was stabbed in the park in a gang attack. They have one suspect in custody. Forum Photo by Robert Stridiron.
Police searched for evidence and clues inside London Planetree Playground after a teen boy was stabbed in the park in a gang attack. They have one suspect in custody. (Photo by Robert Stridiron/Forum) 


By Geoffrey  Croft

A 16-year-old male was stabbed in an Ozone Park playground NYC Park Advocates has learned.  

On Tuesday a vicious gang attacked the teen, repeating punching him and then stabbed him several times in the stomach.

The attack occurred in London Planetree Playground  near the park's comfort station near Atlantic Ave & 89th Street  at 11:35am within the confines of the 102nd Pct. according to police.  

At least three assailants punched the victim while at least two more stood over him while another  stabbed him with a knife, puncturing the teen's intestines which required surgery.   

The victim managed to make it a couple of blocks where he staggered into a Burger King at 92-02  Atlantic Avenue and collapsed face up in the eatery.

EMS responded to a 911 call at 11:44am and transported to Jamaica hospital in "serious"  condition according to a EMS spokesperson.

On Wednesday Police arrested Kevin Ortiz, 22 from 95th Avenue.

He was arraigned yesterday and charged with Attempted Murder in the  Second Degree, Gang Assault in the First Degree,  Assault In The First Degree, Endangering The Welfare Of A Child, Criminal Possession Of A Weapon In the Fourth Degree,

Ortiz's next court date is June 4th

Police are looking for at five other suspects  wanted in the assult.

Read More:

Cops Nab One in Ozone Park Playground Stabbing
The Forum - May 28, 2015 - By  Michael V. Cusenza

Boy stabbed in W’haven park 
Queens Chronicle -  May 28, 2015

Thursday, May 21, 2015

Central Park: Police Apprehend Woman Wanted In Attempted Playground Kidnapping

Police lead attempted kidnapping suspect Cecile Jackson, 35, from the Central Park Pct. yesterday.  Jackson was taken to a hospital for psychological evaluation, and then later arraigned on an attempted kidnapping charge. 


By Geoffrey Croft

Police arrested the suspect wanted in last week's attempted playground kidnapping in Central Park.

The woman was identified as Cecile Jackson, 35 who has no known address. 

The woman has apprehended after she approached two women sitting on a park bench with their children on Central Park West between 85th and 84th Street on Tuesday around 7 p.m.

Jackson began speaking incoherently and waved for their children to come over to her.

The women flagged down police. 

She is charged with one count of Attempted Kidnapping in the Second Degree stemming from the May 12th  incident where police say she tried to remove a two-year-old boy from Heckscher Playground. 

The boy's nanny was pushing his sister in a swing when the suspect removed him from a "bucket swing, held the child, and attempted to walk out of the park, screaming (in substance): THIS IS NOT YOUR KID," according to the complaint.

The child's nanny stopped the suspect from exiting the park and removed the child from the suspect's arms. 

jackson's next court date is June 18th. 

Cecile Jackson after her arrest.

Read More:

WABC - May 20, 2015 - By Josh Einiger 

A Walk In The Park - May 16, 2015  - Geoffrey Croft

Sunday, May 17, 2015

Hammer Attacker Arrested In 2013 For Assaulting Officer In Riverside Park


By Geoffrey Croft

The mentally ill man shot last week wanted for several hammer attacks has several park-related arrests including one in 2013 for assaulting a police officer in Riverside Park, NYC Park Advocates has learned.

David Baril, 30, was arrested after he assaulted a police officer trying to issue him a summons for being in Riverside Park after dark.

He attacked the officer with sharp object, according to police. 

In 2008 he was arrested inside a Bronx Park after he was found to be in possession of a stun gun. 

Police believe he may have been homeless, living in parks and subways since January after he voluntarily left the mental health facility in upper Manhattan. Baril doesn't appear to have had a fixed address since.

Baril has eight prior arrests most in the Bronx where he lived.  Other arrests for assault, cocaine possession and turnstile jumping.

Baril was shot in midtown Manhattan Wednesday morning while attacking a female police officer.

Two eagle-eyed officers on patrol spotted the suspect and began following him when suddenly he pulled out a hammer and violently attacked the female officer. 

Read More:

A Walk In The Park - May 13, 2015  - By Geoffrey Croft

A Walk In The Park  - May 13, 2015  - By Geoffrey Croft

A Walk In The Park - May 12, 2015  - By Geoffrey Croft

Saturday, May 16, 2015

Central Park: Woman Wanted For Attempted Abduction Of Boy, 2, In Heckscher Playground

The woman — believed to be 32 years old, 5-foot-2 and 140 pounds with curly black hair — fled the playground alone.

Police released a sketch of the suspect wanted for the attempted abduction of a 2-year-old boy in  Heckscher Playground on May 12, 2015 at 10:30 in Central Park. The child's nanny stopped the suspect from exiting the park and removed the child from the suspect's arms. 

The suspect is described a black female, approximately 32 years-old, 5'2", 140 pounds with short curly black hair and was last seen wearing dark colored pants.


The New York City Police Department is asking the public's assistance identifying the suspect wanted for an attempted abduction within the confines of the Central Park Precinct. Details are as follows:

On May 12, 2015 at 10:30 the suspect entered the Heckscher playground, located within Central Park, where she picked up a 2 year old boy, who was seated on a swing and attempted to exit the park.  

The child's nanny, a 27 year-old female who was pushing the victim's brother on an adjacent swing, stopped the suspect from exiting the park and removed the child from the suspect's arms.  

The victim was uninjured and the suspect fled the location in an unknown direction.  The incident was reported to police on May 14, 2015.

The suspect is described a black female, approximately 32 years-old, 5'2", 140 pounds with short curly black hair and was last seen wearing dark colored pants.

Anyone with information in regards to this incident is asked to call the NYPD's Crime Stoppers Hotline at 800-577-TIPS.

The public can also submit their tips by logging onto the Crime Stoppers Website at WWW.NYPDCRIMESTOPPERS.COM or texting their tips to 274637(CRIMES) then enter TIP577.

Thursday, May 14, 2015

Police Releases Sketch Of Suspect Wanted In Sunday's Central Park Mugging

NYPD sketch of suspect wanted in Sunday's mugging of a 19-year-old at 109th Street and the East Drive. The robbery was one of three seperate incidents  in less a 24-hour period.   On Monday police said that additional cops would be assigned to the park to help combat the sudden rash of robberies.


The New York City Police Department is asking the public's assistance identifying a suspect wanted for robbery within the confines of the Central Park Precinct. Details are as follows:

On Sunday, May 10, 2015 at approximately 8:00pm, inside Central Park at 109th Street and East Drive, the unidentified suspect engaged the 19-year-old victim in a conversation as she was walking past him. The suspect then asked the victim to sit down with him and stated to her that he had a knife and demanded her property. The victim complied by giving him her wallet. The suspect then fled north out of Central Park. There were no injuries reported as a result of this incident.

The suspect is described as male Hispanic, approximately 20-years-old, 5'0", 130lbs, long black hair in a bun and wearing cargo pants.

Anyone with information in regards to this incident is asked to call the NYPD's Crime Stoppers Hotline at 800-577-TIPS. The public can also submit their tips by logging onto the Crime Stoppers Website at WWW.NYPDCRIMESTOPPERS.COM or texting their tips to 274637(CRIMES) then enter TIP577.

All calls kept strictly confidential.

Read More:

Central Park Attacks
Walk In The Park - May 10, 2015 - By Geoffrey Croft

Beloved Parks Worker From Queens Takes Her Life

"She will rest in the shade between a beautiful cherry tree and a maple tree, so she will always be close to different kinds of birds."

Jennifer Kao
Jennifer Kao, 41, Senior Project Manager with the Planning and Parklands Division committed suicide last Wednesday when she tragically jumped off the George Washington Bridge. She was described by a former colleague as a gentle soul.


By Geoffrey Croft 

A beloved parks worker from Forest Hills died last Wednesday after taking her own life.

Jennifer Kao, 41, project manager in the Parklands Division worked at the agency since October 15,  2002. 

"It is with deep sadness that we announce the passing of Jennifer Kao, Senior Project Manager with the Planning and Parklands Division,"   the Parks Department said in a broadcast email sent to employees yesterday.

"Our thoughts are with her family and friends during this difficult time,"

Former Assistant Parks Commissioner Jack T. Linn decribed her as not a typical aggressive or ambitious New Yorker.

"She was a quiet, competent presence at the Arsenal for years,"  said Mr. Linn.  

"She was a gentle soul. It's all overwhelming," he said.

She was laid to rest this morning at the Maple Grove Cemetery in Kew Gardens, NY Queens.  

"She will rest in the shade between a beautiful cherry tree and a maple tree, so she will always be close to different kinds of birds,"  the agency said in a message.

Jennifer’s family relayed that Jennifer loved flowers and they may be sent to the funeral home.  But in lieu of flowers, donations can be made to environmental groups, bird/avian welfare groups, and organizations that provide international development and relief.

According to a published report Ms. Kao jumped from the crossing, north of the New York tower on the George Washington Bridge around 11:20 a.m.  on Wednesday.

The NYPD Harbor Unit pulled her body from the Hudson River about 15 minutes later. 

Over the years Jennifer worked on dozens of parks projects including the Shore Parkway Greenway, the Silvercup Studios project, and Elmhurst Gas Tank site in Queens. 

Joshua Laird, former Assistant Commissioner of Planning hired Jennifer into the agency in 2002, he described the loss as a "terrible tragedy," and said he was still in shock. 

"It's so sad. She was a smart, sweet and unassuming person. It's hard to fathom," he said. 

In 2006 Laird nominated Jennifer for Management’s Employee of the Month award for her "steadfastness and dedication," as a Community Coordinator for the Planning Division.

Mr. Laird,  now at the National Park Service said her work at the agency was "essential" and cited many projects she had a hand in such as Hudson River Park,  Brooklyn Bridge Park and Hunter's Point South among others that she had an important role in helping to see them through fruition. 

"She was essential in helping to move along these complicated projects through the environmental review and land use process," Laird said.

Former staffers informed him of the tragedy earlier this week. 

Laird  said he has fond memories of her organizing birthday celebrations and outings for fellow employees.

"A lot of people are feeling the hurt in the agency. It's hard to lose a person like this," he said.

"It's way, way too young."

Read More:

Police identify woman who jumped from George Washington Bridge
NJ Advance Media  - May 08, 2015 - By Noah Cohen

Wednesday, May 13, 2015

UPDATE: Police Shoot Man Wanted In Hammer Attacks

Police officer Lauren O’Rourke clutches the back of her head as David Baril, 30, the suspect wanted in a series of hammer attacks lays in the middle of the street at 37th Street and Eighth Avenue after being shot by officer Geraldo Casaigne Wednesday morning. (Photo: Rich Docherty)


By Geoffrey Croft

This morning a police officer shot David Baril, the 30-year-old suspect wanted in a series of hammer attacks on innocent bystanders after he turned on them according to police.

Video released by police show a fast acting police officer coming to the aid of his female partner who is being pursued by the attacker wildly swinging a hammer in the middle  of Eighth Avenue at 37th Street. 

The incident occurred a little after 10:00am. 

A male and female officer on patrol spotted the suspect and began following him along Eighth Avenue near 38th street when he abruptly turned around and pulled out a hammer and went after the female officer.

hen he turned around he violently started swinging the hammer at the female officer," said Manhattan Chief of Detectives William Aubry.  

David Baril, 30, wanted in Monday's Union Square Park attack and others. (Photo: DCPI)

"As he's swinging the female officer is backtracking into the intersection of 37th & 8th. Her partner, the male officer sees her struggling and he fires his weapon four times at this individual, striking him twice," said Aubry.

Baril was taken to Bellevue Hospital Center where is in critical but stable condition.   

Police say he has multiple prior arrests and a history of psychological problems.

“I want to commend those two officers for their actions this morning," Police Commissioner William Bratton said.  

"First in seeing the suspect and approaching him. And then secondly for the quick action on the part of the officers, but particularly the male officer, who based on the preliminary video I viewed, quite possibly saved his partner’s life by shooting the suspect.”

There was a heavy uniform police presence last night in Union Square Park as police canvased the area looking for the suspect in Monday's attacks.  A twenty-eight-year-old woman was sitting alone on a park bench by Evelyn's Playground in Union Square Park when she was attacked from behind by the deranged man. (Photo: Geoffrey CroftNYC Park Advocates) 

Read More:

Officer Shoots Hammer-Wielding Man in Midtown Manhattan
New York Times - May 13, 2015 - By J. David Goodman

WABC - May 13, 2015 - By Tim Fleischer

A Walk In The Park  - May 13, 2015  - By Geoffrey Croft

A Walk In The Park - May 12, 2015  - By Geoffrey Croft

14-Year-Old Arrested In Yesterday's Prospect Park Shootings


By Geoffrey Croft

A 14 year-old boy was arrested for yesterday's afternoon shootings at Prospect Park that left two injured including a 14-year-old girl, according to police.

The  young girl was sitting on a bench when shots ran out, hitting her in the leg.

 A 38-year-old woman who was watching her son play baseball was hit in the shoulder.

The assailant fled on his bike northbound along Parade Place.

The teen was charged with 8 counts including two counts of attempted murder.

Riverside Park South Stabber Setenced to 23 Years

Julius Graham, 44,  in State Supreme Court in Manhattan on Tuesday where he was sentenced to 23 years in prison.  On October 1, 2013 Mr. Graham went on a rampage in Riverside Park South, stabbing 5 people including an 18-month-old in a stroller.  (Photos: Michael Appleton for The New York Times)


A man who went on a rampage with a broken pair of scissors in Riverside Park in Manhattan and stabbed five people, including a child in a stroller, was sentenced to 23 years in prison on Tuesday.

The man, Julius Graham, 44, pleaded guilty in April to six counts of assault in a deal with the Manhattan prosecutors, who agreed to drop attempted murder charges against him. Mr. Graham said nothing before Justice Charles H. Solomon of State Supreme Court in Manhattan imposed the sentence. Mr. Graham’s lawyer, Heather Smith, said her client was experiencing “sincere remorse.”

On Oct. 1, 2013, Mr. Graham shattered a peaceful morning in the park along the Hudson River on the Upper West Side when people were jogging, walking, strolling with their children, or just sitting in the warm sun. Wielding blades from a broken pair of scissors, he attacked random victims for no apparent reason. He stabbed and slashed two female joggers, a man walking his dog, a father and the 18-month-old son he was pushing in a stroller, prosecutors said. The child was saved when a bystander wrestled Mr. Graham to the ground and held him until the police arrived.

Deanna Koestel, a jogger who was stabbed by Mr. Graham, recalled the attack in court. “Those images and memories will haunt me for a lifetime,” she said.

“This is one of the most frightening types of cases that I have ever seen,” Justice Solomon said. “It’s a completely random attack.”  Before the sentencing, one of the joggers, Deanna Koestel, described the horror she felt when Mr. Graham plunged the scissors into her back several times, puncturing her lung twice and dislocating her shoulder as she fell. A marathon runner, Ms. Koestel said she had three surgeries and months of painful recovery. “Those images and memories will haunt me for a lifetime,” she said.

 Ben Loehnen, who was attacked while walking his dog, said he felt lucky to be alive. “The immediate experience was surreal,” he said. 

Another victim, Ben Loehnen, who was attacked while walking his dog, said he felt lucky to be alive. “The immediate experience was surreal,” he said. Without warning, Mr. Graham stabbed Mr. Loehnen twice in the chest, the blade just missing his heart and spine, but causing so much damage that surgeons were forced to remove his spleen and part of his pancreas during a five-hour operation. He said forgiveness was difficult. “I hope, Julius, that you and I both find kindness and peace in the years ahead,” he said.

Riverside Park South - Police officers guard the 59th Street entrance near the crime scene the morning of October 1 2013.  Five people were attacked a few blocks north along the Greenway just before 8:00am by a 43-year-old emotionally disturbed Julius Graham.  (Photo: Geoffrey Croft/NYC Park Advocates) 

A third victim, James Fayette, sent a letter to court, which an assistant district attorney, Shanda Strain, read to the judge. Mr. Fayette described his fear and panic as Mr. Graham punched the scissor blade into his chest, collapsing his lung, and then slashed his 18-month-old son’s arm and back. “I now know evil,” he said.

Mr. Fayette said his worldview compelled him to forgive Mr. Graham, “but know I do it very reluctantly.”

The Manhattan district attorney, Cyrus R. Vance Jr., said the sentence was a just outcome. “Julius Graham turned a peaceful New York City morning into a nightmare for five strangers,” Mr. Vance said in a statement.

Read More:

Julius Graham, 43, Indicted For Stabbing Five People In Riverside Park South
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Multiple People Stabbed In Riverside Park South including 2-year-old: Homeless Man In Custody
A Walk In The Park  - October 1, 2013  - By Geoffrey Croft