Wednesday, February 22, 2017

Battery Park Ticket Scalper Sentenced

Gregory Reddick 54, of Jamaica Queens was arrested on May 27, 2015 for allegedly selling tickets to tourists on Pier 15 - South Street Seaport illegally.  He ran to Battery Park after being questioned by park police. The issue attracted wide-spread media attention.  Reddick’s arrests date to the 80's and include six felony convictions,  multiple burglary and criminal possession of stolen property convictions. 

Vendors have no valid Parks Department permit to sell tickets on park property according to the city.  For years these vendors have been operating in broad daylight with little or sporadic enforcement from authorities. 


By Geoffrey Croft

The Queens resident arrested in 2015 for illegally selling tourists tickets in Battery Park was found guilty and sentenced NYC Park Advocates has learned.

On Friday Gregory Reddick of Jamaica Queens was sentenced to 45 days in jail after a jury recently found him guilty of Resisting Arrest following a jury trial. 

He rejected a plea deal and opted for a jury trial instead. 

Reddick was found not guilty of the other charges - Obstructing Governmental Administration, Unlawful Vending in a New York City Park, and Harassment.

His arrest in May 2015 garnered wide-spread media attention.

He was arrested on May 27, 2015 after leading park police on a wild chase in lower Manhattan. 

A Parks Enforcement Patrolman officer on Pier 15 (South Street Seaport) says he saw Reddick allegedly take cash from two customers according to the criminal complaint. 

When the officer asked Reddick to see an ID and Parks permit he responded, "F*ck off off,  I ain't givin' you shit,"  according to an officer at the scene.  

The officer called for back up.  

He shoved the officer in the chest and took off. The officers chased Reddick a half mile away to Battery Park where he and a half-dozen fellow officers surrounded the 200-pound suspect, subduing him with the help of pepper spray, the complaint says.

Illegal vendors swarm the subway exit in the Battery Park.   The proprietors of these businessed claim they are not required to have a Parks' permit because they are selling “entertainment” such as sightseeing tours and fall under "expressive matter" sales and therefor are protected under by the First Amendment. 

Reddick sued the city after his arrest.

Read More:

Update: Battery Park Tourist Scalper Scam - Queens Resident Arrested 
A Walk In The Park - May 30, 2015 - By Geoffrey Croft

Con man in $400 Staten Island ferry scam sues NYC after arrest
 New York Post -  June 5, 2015 - By Julia Marsh and Kevin Fasick

Tuesday, February 21, 2017

Teen Attacked & Stabbed In Prospect Park


By Geoffrey Croft

The victim an 18-year-old male was walking with friends last night in Prospect Park when he was attacked and stabbed in the abdomen in an apparent random attack, NYC Park Advocates has learned.

Two men approached the group and an altercation ensued.

The Incident occurred inside Prospect Park on the East Drive at approximately 9:45 p.m.  not far from 450 Flatbush Ave. 

Friends called 911 and the victim was taken to Methodist Hospital where he is expected to survive 

Seven of his friends were taken back to the 78 Pct. and all told the same story of the unprovoked attack.

The attacker is described as a male white, 6-ft-1 inches tall, 170 lbs. with dark hair. He was wearing a dark colored baseball cap, a dark hooded sweatshirt and blue jeans.

Police are also looking for a second accomplice but did were unable to provide a description at this time. 

Both were described as in their 20's. 

Police canvassed the park and failed to find the attacker.

Central Park: Teens Rescused After Falling Into Pond While Taking Selfies.

FDNY divers continue to search water in Central Park near 59th Street and Central Park South and Sixth Avenue last night. (Images: FDNY via twitter)

By Geoffrey Croft

A group of dim-witted teens had to be rescued after they fall into the water in Central Park while taking selfies.

FDNY removed six persons from the water body.

The incident occurred just before 6:00pm last night at The Pond located at the southern end of the park near 59th Street.

The group had been messing around by the water when they decided to venture out onto the thin ice to take photos when they fell in.

Good Samaritans also got involved when they jumped into the water to help.

The boys ages 15 and 16 and were brought to local hospitals and treated for mild hypothermia according to fire officials.

“I think after tonight we can reinforce to the people that playing on ice is not a good idea,” FDNY Deputy Chief John Scof said during a press conference afterwards.

Thursday, February 9, 2017

Wash Sq. Pk Drug User Swallows Crack To Avoid Arrest


By Geoffrey Croft

A 60 year-old drug user with more than thirty arrests attempted to avoid another one in Washington Square Park by swallowing the evidence, NYC Park Advocates has learned.

The ploy did not work.

Two Park Enforcement Patrol Officers were patrolling the park on Monday afternoon when they observed what they believed to be a man smoking a crack pipe.

When they approached the man put  thecrack in his mouth and swallowed it.

“I don’t have it anymore because I swallowed it,” he replied when officers asked where the drug was.

EMS brought him to brought him to Lenox Hill Hospital and where he was cleared for processing.

PEP officers arrested Kenneth Ancrum, 60.

He was charged with Criminal Possession of a Controlled Substance and Tampering With Physical Evidence.

Ancrum has at least thirty-two arrests, twenty-three for Criminal Possession of a Controlled Substance.

The incident occured in the park near the corner of Washington Square Place and Washington Square West. 

Monday, February 6, 2017

Male 20, Arrested In Murder of Queens Jogger In Spring Creek Park

Shortly after 5:46pm on August 2, 2015, Karina Vetrano stepped over the low guardrail (top right) at the corner of 83rd St. & 164th Avenue. She slipped past the chain link fence and though the invasive weeds and entered Spring Creek Park as she and her father had done countless times before to go for a run.  The area is less than a block away from her family home.  Her lifeless body was found less than a half a mile away along a dirt service road surrounded on both sides by a solid wall of eight feet high invasive phragmites which    She was found strangled, beaten and partly nude. Her teeth were knocked out and bruises consistent with being dragged through the weeds.  (Photos: Geoffrey Croft/NYC Park Advocates) Click on images to enlarge.

"She was unlucky that day,"  Philip Vetrano the victim's father said,  commenting on the random nature of his daughter meeting the suspect on that terrible summer day. 


By  Geoffrey Croft

Police arrested a 20-year-old male from East New York for the heinous murder of Howard Beach jogger Karina Vetrano.  

Chanel Lewis was taken into custody on Saturday night at 6:00 in connection with the brutal August 2, 2015 murder after his DNA matched evidence taken from the crime scene police said. 

Karina Vetrano, 30 was senselessly murdered while doing what she enjoyed, running in Spring Creek Park.

The case had frustrated law enforcement, family and friends of the victim and the public.  Despite the tremendous amount of resources allocated to the investigation progress appeared elusive at times.

Persistence finally paid off. 

On Thursday, six months to the day that Karina was senselessly murdered,  detectives visited the home of Lewis on Essex Street in East New York where he lives with his family including his mother and two sisters.  

He voluntarily gave his DNA through a cheek swab.  Within two days they came back with a match from the medical examiner’s lab.

On Saturday police returned and asked Lewis to step outside were he was promptly arrested.

“This is a very good day for justice in New York City, ” NYPD Chief of Detectives Robert Boyce said in his opening remarks at Sunday’s press conference at the 106th Pct. announcing the high-profile arrest.  

“After the extensive six month investigation during which over two hundred and fifty leads were received from the public and over seven hundred investigative reports were prepared, numerous DNA file searched, detectives were able to identify Lewis as a suspect in this case,” Boyce said providing details of the case. 

Chanel Lewis being escorted from the 107 Pct. to Queens Criminal Court on Sunday.  Lewis was arrested after the medical examiner’s lab matched DNA evidence from the crime scene to the suspect. He was charged with second-degree murder and has been remanded without bail.  Lewis attended special education school throughout his life. 

During his interview with detectives Lewis made, “detailed incriminating statements and admissions,” Boyce said.  

Police were able to determine that no one came out of the park on the Howard Beach side, which lead the investigation to East New York side in Brooklyn and the bike path area that runs along the Belt Parkway near where Lewis received the summonses.

During a “deep dive” of intelligence gathering police discovered a 911 call from May -  more than three months before the murder - made from an area resident of a “suspicious person” in the area.  

From that call the police were able to develop a profile over the last ten days.   Although Lewis has no prior arrests he did have three summonses in 2013,  NYPD Lt. John Russo, who lives in Howard Beach, tracked down the summonses which authorities said was key in helping to identify Lewis. 

At the time of the August incident police ran the recovered DNA through a national FBI database as well as a local state database of offenders.  The DNA did not match any DNA on file.

The state began collecting DNA for offenders in 1998 and this only proves the killer may have been in jail prior to '98 or he was never arrested for a crime for which a DNA sample is required.

Police had previously stated  that three separate DNA profiles were found all from the same person, an unidentified male.    Touch DNA - from contact with hands or body such as sweat or skin cells - was recovered on the victim’s cell phone which was found away from the body. The DNA was also recovered on her back,  behind her ear, and under Vetrano’s fingernails. 

“Karina helped us identify this person,” Chief Detective Boyce said. 

“She had the DNA under her nails she had touch DNA on her back and there was more DNA on the cell phone. Three instances, that’s how we were able to bring the profile up and that’s how we made the link,”  he said.

On Sunday Chief Boyce singled out Lt. Russo  as a “key player” in helping to identify Chanel Lewis as the prime suspect, he also highlighted the crime scene personnel who worked in the intense summer heat to recover the evidence used to catch the suspect. 

Early in the investigation police were pretty convinced it was a random crime, they had no evidence she was being stalked or she was killed by someone who knew her.

On Saturday they reaffirmed that stating that the incident,  “appeared to be a chance encounter.”

According to law enforcement sources Lewis used the park often. The day of  the murder he was going to get something to eat when he encountered the jogger he told police. 

Isolation and Cover - No Where to Run or Hide.  Police say Karina Vetrano encountered the suspect while jogging along this desolete  dirt path in Spring Creek Park where the thick, overgrown dense weeds trapped her.  For years area residents have complained about the park's lack of maitainence including highly agressive phragmites which grow upwards of twelve feet high.  These concerns have fallen on deaf ears, and in August had deadly consequences.

Shortly after 5:46pm  Karina Vetrano entered Spring Creek Park at the corner of 83rd St. & 164th Avenue less than a block away from her family home to go for a jog   She stepped over the low guardrail, slipped past the chain link fence and though the invasive weeds as she and her father had done countless times before.

There she jogged along an eight foot wide dirt road that snakes around the two hundred plus acre natural area park managed by the National Park Service.  Much of the narrow road is surrounded on both sides by an impenetrable wall of invasive phragmites, weeds that grow greater than eleven feet high and provided cover and an opportunity for the murder.  

Vetrano had been listening to music and texting a friend during the run but at some point that stopped Chief Boyce had previously  stated. 

The victim and the suspect encountered each other along the desolate dirt road.

They approached in opposite directions amidst the maze-like condition of the park where she allegedly scared him the suspect told police.

Her lifeless body was found less than a half a mile away from where she entered the park along off the dirt road surrounded on both sides by a solid wall of eight feet high invasive phragmites. 

Bright orange evidence marker cones at the crime scene in August.

The victim’s father and police found her body facedown in weeds about 15 feet off the desolate path.   

She was strangled, beaten and partly nude. Her teeth were knocked out and had bruises consistent with being dragged through the weeds.   She put up a fight.

The suspect maintains he did not sexually assault her.  

Chanel Lewis in Queens Criminal Court.

Lewis was arraigned in Queens Criminal Court and charged with second-degree murder. He was remanded without bail.  

His next court date is February 21st.

Lewis attended special education school throughout his life according to police sources.  On Sunday Chief Boyce declined talk about, "where he is socially." 

After the suspect’s arrest Karina’s parents spoke with reporters in front of their home. 
“I’m at a lose for words," the victim’s father, retired fiire fighter Philip Vetrano said.

”We had hoped to get to this point one day, we didn’t know when it was going to happen, it just happened very quickly. We can’t even respond to how we feel. We know yet,” he said.  

“Police did an excellent job, they solved this through good old hard investigative work,” Mr. Vetrano said.

Phragmites at the crime scene growing back aggressively less than two weeks after it had been cleared. 

I’m not going to say it’s a good day but we can move forward now,” he said.

Both parents praised the diligent police work that lead to the arrest of Lewis.

“We love our daughter so very very deeply,” said Cathy Vetrano.

“Our sorrow is so endlessly painful that hearing the news is not what I expected,  there is no happiness but we are grateful to the New York City Police Department,” who she credited as working endlessly and tirelessly to help bring her daughter’s killer to justice. 

“We would stop at nothing to find the savage that did this to her,” she said.

“Thinking about it logically, its was impossible for someone to follow her in there. It had to be a random ‘wrong place at the wrong time.’   She was unlucky that day,” the victim's father said after the suspect's arrest,  commenting on the random nature of his daughter's meeting with the suspect that fateful summer day. 

“The demon must get his justice and we will see to it,”  Mrs. Vetrano said.

Her husband agreed.

The family once again called for the state to allow familial DNA testing which could create partial matches from the relatives of criminals and help solve crimes by broadening the scope of potential suspects who’s DNA are not in Federal or state databases. 

On Thursday, the six-month anniversary of the murder, Mr. & Mrs. Vetrano and friends gathered at corner of 83rd St. & 164th Avenue 83rd Street the location where their daughter entered the park and spoke out in support of familial DNA testing.

Vetrano’s family and the NYPD have used the case to push the state to allow the testing. 

In August a track and multi terrain loader owned by the National Park Service was brought in to  help clear large tracks of invasive species to reduce fire danger.  The  vehicle is dwarfed by the massive phragmites which grow up to twelve feet high in the park.

The vehicle is equipped with a masticator, a large piece of equipment designed to mow and shred brush.    Mastication - mechanical brush mowing - is a temporary and cost effective method of cutting down large expanses of grasses.

A spokeswoman for Gateway National Recreation area has pointed out that simply mowing the weeds wasn’t a viable option for eradication. 

“It grows back very quickly and stronger and becomes more dense after mowing.” 

The roots need to be removed.  

The official National Park Service Spring Creek Park sign is obscured from the street by the invasive Porcelainberry.   Non of the green pictured here should be in the park.  The majority of the 200 acre park is filled with invasive plants due to more than a half a century of "deferred maintenance." 

Karina Vetrano entered Spring Creek Park at the corner of 83rd St. & 164th Avenue, less than a block away from her family home.  Her lifeless body was found less than a half a mile away along a dirt service road surrounded by a solid wall of eight feet high invasive phragmites. Police say she was brutally attacked and killed by Chanel Lewis of East New York who accessed the park from Brooklyn side of the Belt Park way. He visited the park frequently according to police sources. (Graph: NYC Park Advocates)

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

Read More:

A Walk In The Park  - February 4, 2017  - By Geoffrey Croft

A Walk In The Park - August 5, 2016 - By Geoffrey Croft

A Walk In The Park - August 3, 2016 

Saturday, February 4, 2017

Suspect Apprehended In Spring Creek Jogger Killing

Jogger Karina Vetrano, 30, was raped, strangled and beaten as she ran through Spring Creek Park in Howard Beach on August 2, 2015.  Police said she entered the park at 164th Street a block way from the family’s home.   Vetrano had been listening to music and texting a friend during the run but at some point that stopped. 


By Geoffrey Croft

Police apprehended a suspect wanted in the brutal murder of jogger Karina Vetrano, 30, police sources said.

Detectives brought the man into custody this afternoon after DNA was recovered from her body. 

Police have not yet not released the suspect’s name or age and said it was an active investigation.  Charges are pending. 

He was being questioned at the 106 Precinct in Howard Beach.

The victim’s body was found late in the unmaintained invasive weeds of Spring Creek Park, part of the Gateway National Recreation Area  near 161st Ave. and 78th St. in Howard Beach, Queens, less than a half a mile from her home. 

Ms. Vetrano went out for a jog around 5:00pm but did not come home. 

  Boyce said police found a pinging on the phone somewhere in the brush off the path, and her father walked police through the marsh to show them where she normally ran. He found the body face down, with detectives.  

Her partially nude body was found hours later, near a homeless encampment, face down, her under garment around an ankle.  Grass was found clutched in her hand, a result of her being dragged in the struggle.   

She had been raped, strangled and beaten to death while out doing what she loved, running outdoors in nature.

Karina Vetrano, 30, was found by her father hours after she went out for a jog in  Spring Creek Park

She was reported missing by her father, a retired FDNY firefighter after she failed to return home after her run.  Police conducted an extensive search of the area and found her body at approximately 10:50pm. 

Police launched a massive search to find the missing woman.   For weeks investigators combed through the invasive weeds that grow up to twelve feet high for evidence.

The lack of funding for maintenance coupled with the severe lack of enforcement manpower  from the Federal Park Police needed to cover the thousands of acres of Federal land were once again brought to light during the time of the murder. 

Police cordon off the area near 161st Ave. and 78th St. in Howard Beach the morning after  the body of Karina Vetrano, 30, was found dead in the marshes of Spring Creek Park, less than a half a mile from her father's home.  Photos: Geoffrey Croft/NYC Park Advocates. (Click on images to enlarge)

Friday, February 3, 2017

Attempted Rape of Park Worker - Suspect Caught


By Geoffrey Croft

Police apprehended the suspect wanted in the attempted rape of  a park worker, NYC Park Advocates has learned.

A 51-year-old Hispanic female park employee was sitting on a bench in front of the park house inside Jaime Campiz Playground on Wednesday at noon time when she was approached by male black in his 50’s and asked for a smoke according to police.

The woman said she didn’t have a smoke and got up and to walk away.

The suspect then offered her $150 to have sex with him. 

When she declined the offer he increased the offer to $200 and again she declined.

“I'm going to rape you then" he said and as he pushed her towards the park house holding in his hand what appeared to be a white rope.

She broke free and ran away and into the parks women’s bathroom where she told other females in the bathroom what had happened.

The suspect waited outside the bathroom for a few minutes while the women hid. 

He fled and got into a white tractor trailer that was parked west bound on the BQE service road.

The women told police the trailer had the words “Western General" on the side.

Cops canvassed for video and found video of the truck parking, the driver getting out and walking in the direction of the park before and returning 20 mins later.

Using GPS, police were able to determine the truck was in fact at the location and the company identified the employee/driver it was assigned to.

The driver was detained by police and was picked out of a line up by the victim.

Police arrested Darrell Long, 51 who resides on Marcus Garvey Blvd in Brooklyn.

Long was arrested and charged with menacing, harassment, criminal possession of a controlled substance and attempted sex abuse by force.

The suspect has 12 prior arrests.

He confessed to the attempted rape according to a police source. 

He is awaiting arraignment in Brooklyn criminal court.

The incident occurred in Jaime Campiz Playground at Metropolitan & Marcy Ave within the confines of the 90th Pct.