Tuesday, January 10, 2017

Hero NYPD Officer Steven McDonald - Paralyzed In 1986 Central Park Shooting - Dies at 59

NYPD officer Steven McDonald in 1986, at age 29, the year he was shot and paralyzed in Central Park.  He was shot a year after being assigned to the Central Park Pct and 20 months after becoming a police officer. He was an inspiration to countless officers.


By Geoffrey Croft

Hero NYPD officer Steven McDonald - paralyzed in a Central Park shooting has died.

McDonald, 59, went into cardiac arrest on Friday.

Officer McDonald was paralyzed during a Central Park shooting by a 15-year-old boy near the north end of the park.

Officer McDonald, 29, and his partner were working undercover at about 4:15 p.m. on July 12, 1986.  They were patrolling in a gray unmarked anticrime car when they spotted and began following three “suspicious” youths.  

McDonald followed them onto a wooded path near the Harlem Meer boathouse at 107th St. and East Drive.

One of the boys, 15-year-old Shavod Jones, pulled out a concealed .22 caliber,  “Saturday night special” revolver and fired several shots hitting the officer three times. One bullet hit McDonald in the left side of his neck, shattering into fragments that lodged in his spinal column.  

He collapsed onto the rain-soaked dirt and was rushed to the hospital.

McDonald was left a quadriplegic and unable to breath on his own.

A man of deep faith he publicly forgave the cold-blooded teen eight months after the shooting from his bed at Bellevue Hospital. 

McDonald was appointed to the police on July 16, 1984, and assigned to the Central Park Pct, a yea on July 8, 1985.

McDonald’s wife, Patti Ann McDonald was pregnant at the time with their only child, Conor who was born six months after the shooting. 

Responding police quickly arrested three suspects.  Jones,  the alleged shooter was convicted by a jury in less than two hours and sentenced to 3-1/3-to-10 years, the maximum for a juvenile offender.

 “I feel sorry for him,” McDonald said of Jones.

 “I forgive him and hope that he can find peace and purpose in his life,” he said in a statement read by his wife at his son’s baptism held in a chapel at Bellevue Hospital in early 1987.

McDonald also expressed the hope he could further the dialogue with the offender after he was released from prison to inspire others.

McDonald was a staple at many events in the city throughout the years and was an inspiration to countless officers.

“there is more love in this city than there are street corners, ”  he wrote in his 1989 book, “The Steven McDonald Story.”

A funeral mass will be held at St. Patrick’s Cathedral on Friday, at 9:30 with Cardinal Timothy M. Dolan.

Read More:

New York Times - January 10, 2017 - By Richard Goldstein 

New York Daily News - January 10, 2017

New York Post -  January 10, 2017 - By Tina Moore, Larry Celona, Shawn Cohen, Lorena Mongelli, Mary Kay Linge and Bruce Golding

Officer Steven McDonald paralyzed from Central Park shooting in 1986
New York Daily News - July 13, 1986 - By  Mike Santangelo and David J. Krajicek

Friday, January 6, 2017

Queens Carjacker Shot In Manhattan Park


By Geoffrey Croft

A vicious criminal wanted by police for kidnapping after he stabbed his victim twenty times during a carjacking was shot in the back on Tuesday in a Harlem park during a counterfeit money scheme gone bad NYC Park Advocates has learned. 

Ramel Christian, 20, of 148th St in Rosedale Queens was shot inside Marcus Garvey Park, on Tuesday at 6:00 p.m,. near 120th Street and 5th Avenue, within the confines of the 25 Pct.

A man caught fleeing the park after the shooting told police he was contacted on Facebook by the victim who said he had $5,000 in counterfeit money he wanted to sell for a discounted price of $2,000.

The man thought that was a good deal and met the victim in the park for the exchange.

He claims they were inside the park talking when he heard a single shot and fled.

He maintains he didn’t know who fired the shot and he was not charged with a crime.

Police found a single 9mm shell casing inside the park.

It remains unclear who is responsible for the shooting. Police have classified the motive as an attempted robbery.

The victim was removed to in stable condition to Harlem Hospital.

At the time of Tuesday's shooting Ramel Christian had an outstanding kidnapping warrant in connection with a carjacking incident in Queens on May 17, 2016. 

A twenty-two-year old was carjacked by three assailants in front of Wendi's at 219-44 Hillside Avenue at 5:30 am.  

Christian tortured his victim to obtain his pin number, stabbing him twenty times according to police.

The victim was found in an alley and brought to Jamaica Hospital where he survived.

The incident occurred within the confines of the 105 pct. in Queens.

Police say Christian faces Robbery, Assault, Grand larceny and Kidnapping charges.

The defendant has not yet been arraigned according to the Queens County District Attorney’s Office.

Two others were apprehended a day after the May incident - Iyonna Burton, 19, and Romario Alen, 18. Both were charged with Robbery, Assault, Grand larceny and Kidnapping.

On Tuesday Christian was also arrested on Robbery and Criminal possession of a weapon, charges.  That complaint is sealed.  

He has at least seven arrests on charges including assault, weapons possession and aggravated harassment.  

Thursday, December 29, 2016

Park Crime Jumps 32%

Crime in city parks jumped thirty-two percent over the last nine months.  Violent crime rose nineteen percent and increased in all four categories.   Five hundred and two people reported being the victim of violent crime during the first three quarters of 2016.  Robberies increased twenty-nine percent.

The de Blasio administration continues to maintain that park crime is,”rare.”


By Geoffrey Croft

Crime in city parks increased thirty-two percent in 2016  compared to the previous time period according to the latest figures complied by NYPD and analyzed by NYC Park Advocates.   

There were 955 reported crimes in 2016 in city parks over nine months compared to 721 in 2015 over the same period. 

Violent crime increased nineteen percent.  Five hundred and two people reported being the victim of violent crime in 2016 compared to four hundred and twenty-one in 2015 during the same time period.  Violent Crime was up in all four categories. 

Eight people were murdered during the first nine months of 2016,  fourteen were raped, three-hundred and two people were robbed, and 142 were victims of felony assaults.

Murder                8 in  2016 vs.  6 in 2015 a 33% increase
Rape  14   vs. 12  an 17% increase
Robbery    302  vs. 234 a 29% increase
Felony Assault   179  vs. 169 a 6 % increase

Bronx parks occupied six positions in the top ten in violent crimes reported.

Once again Flushing Meadows Corona Park lead the city in total crimes with sixty-eight. Coney Island Beach and Boardwalk lead the city in violent crimes. 

The figures do not include Central Park which has its own police precinct.

The statistics cover through September 31, 2016, the latest park crime data released by the NYPD. 

Brooklyn parks had seven rapes, Prospect Park lead the city with three,  Bronx parks had four, Manhattan two and Queens one.   

Brooklyn had four of the city’s eight murders, Bronx and Queens each had two. 

The striking figures come from the latest crime data tracked by the NYPD under a 2014 law.    The NYPD is now compiling crime data from 1,155 park properties, up from just 31 parks police began tracking in 2008. 

Violent crime rose nineteen percent and was up in all four categories during the first three quarters of 2016.   Five hundred and two people reported being the victim of violent crime - eight people were murdered, fourteen were raped, three-hundred and two people were robbed, and 178 were victims of felony assaults.

Total Crime

Violent Crime




Felony Assault

Twelve Month Data  

Crime increased twenty-nine precent over the last year compared to the previous time period according to the latest figures.   

Violent crime rose twenty-one percent.  Eleven people were murdered, twenty-two people were raped, three-hundred and ninety-eight people were robbed, and two hundred and eight were victims of felony assaults. 

Total Crime:      1, 139  vs. 881 an increase of  29  %
Violent Crime:      638 vs. 529  an increase of  21 %

Crime increased twenty-nine precent over the last twelve months, violent crime rose twenty-one percent.  Eleven people were murdered, twenty-two people were raped, three-hundred and ninety-eight people were robbed, and two hundred and eight were victims of felony assaults. 

Thursday, December 22, 2016

ME Rules Queens Park Beating Death A Homicide

Photo: Robert Stridiron
NYPD at the crime scene by the handball courts where John Pierre Villenueva, 21, was beaten unconscious inside College Point Park on June 15th.  He died on September 9th according to the Medical Examiner.  (Photo: Robert Stridiron/QNS.com)


By Geoffrey Croft

The Medical Examiner ruled today that the death of a 21-year-old Flushing resident found beaten unconscious in a Queens park on June 15th,  was a homicide NYC Park Advocates has learned. 

The victim, John Pierre Villenueva, 21,  was found unconscious near the handball courts with head trauma inside College Point Park near 14th Avenue and College Pt. Blvd. on June 15th just after 6:00 pm.   He died on September 9th as a result of blunt force trauma to the head. 

Mr. Villenueva's death had not been previously reported.

It appeared he was punched in the face and fell and hit his head on the ground according to officials. 

The victim has a fracture to the left side of the head and massive swelling of the brain.   He was hospitalized  and put on life support with no brain activity and never regained consciousness. 

Police said a witness reported the assault stemmed from an argument on the handball court and the victim was punched and kicked by one person.
No indication he was robbed.

Police have identified a “person of interest,” a 23-year old man who has not been arrested.

This person has 15 prior arrests for assault, disorderly conduct and marijuana possession and is actively on probation for a drug charge until 2020. 

No arrests have been made.

Crime Stoppers offered a $2,500 reward for information in the case. (Photo by Ellis Kaplan/Times Ledger)

Read More:

A Walk In The Park - June 16, 2016 - By Geoffrey Croft

Saturday, December 17, 2016

City Kills Beloved Deer, Tries To Blame State

NYC PAPERS OUT. Social media use restricted to low res file max 184 x 128 pixels and 72 dpi
"Lefty" the deer that wondered into Jackie Robinson Park and delighted Harlem residents was killed by the city. The city then tried to blame Governor Cuomo who had directed the State DEC to offer assistance and transport the animal to a new habitat which the city said came too late. Animal rights advocates have long decried the States' blanket regulations that prohibit wildlife from being relocated which results in an automatic death sentence for the animal.   Several weeks ago the Governor had a change of heart and signed a bill that protects one species, the Muted Swann after vetoing State Senator Tony Avella's legislation twice.  (Photo: Andrew Savulich/NewYork Daily News)


By Geoffrey Croft

The beloved white-tailed deer that wondered into a Harlem park two weeks ago died yesterday in city custody after being tranquilized.

The deer had become a welcome visitor in Jackie Robinson Park for area residents.  They city however had announced its intention to kill the deer.

On Thursday the deer jumped a fence and migrated into the near by Polo Grounds NYCHA projects where police captured and tranquilized it.  The deer was moved to Animal Care Centers of NYC shelter on East 110th Street.

Governor Andrew M. Cuomo office stepped in on Thursday and said the State DEC was willing to prevent it being killed and offered to have the deer transported out of the city.

“Over the last day the New York State Department of Environmental Conservation advised the City of New York that there are alternatives to euthanasia that they can consider including relocation, “  a spokesman for the Governor said in a statement.

“The City has now captured the deer and Governor Cuomo has directed DEC to offer assistance to the City to transport and find a new habitat for it immediately.”

On Friday morning an ignorant Mayor Bill de Blasio gave his assessment on the prospects of the deers’ life.  

“If a deer is already in a natural location and you can leave them there, then they have a chance of survival, but if not, you don’t really have another option,” The Mayor said on the Brian Lehrer radio show.

“It’s a question of is it going to be a quick and merciful death versus potentially a very long painful process.”

Yesterday morning just before 8:30am the Governor took to Twitter.

"We want to do everything we can to save the Harlem deer. We have told the city that the feds or we can transport it upstate today.”

When workers from the state Department of Environmental Conservation and the federal Department of Agriculture arrived at the Animal Care and Control Shelter the deer was dead.

Just before 2 p.m. Parks’ spokesman Sam Biederman announced that the deer had died and blamed the state. 

“Unfortunately because of the time we had to wait for D.E.C. to come and transport the deer, the deer has perished,”  Biederman told reporters, adding that the city had wanted to euthanize the deer all along. 

"This was an animal that was under a great deal of stress for the past 24 hours and had been tranquilized for much of that.”

The State Environmental Conservation Department did not agree with the Parks Department's press office assessment. 

“We offered yesterday to take possession of the deer and transport it to a suitable habitat,” the Environmental Conservation Department said in a statement. 

“The city did not accept our offer until just before noon today, and while we were arriving on scene the deer died in the city’s possession."

The city got what it wanted all along and killed the deer.

Image result for Deer Slayers NY daily News Front page

The issue has garnered a significant amount of publicity with the media playing up the supposed feud between Governor Cuomo and Mayor de Blasio angle which played out on the front pages of two newspapers.

Read More:

New York Times -  December 16, 2016 - By Andy Newman

One-antlered Harlem deer dies immediately after City Hall opts against killing it
New York Daily News - December 17, 2016 - By Lisa L. Colangelo, Jennifer Fermino, Larry McShane 

Sunday, December 11, 2016

Brooklyn Park Worker Arrested On Guns, Drugs Charges In Home - Released Without Bail

Cops found weapons, marijuana, pills and fake license plates in Charles McRae’s East Flatbush home Friday.

Police found weapons, marijuana,  cash, pills and more than a hundred fake license plates in seasonal park worker Charles McRae’s East Flatbush home Friday.  Judge ShawnDya L. Simpson released him on his own recognizance.  (image: NYPD) click on image to enlarge.


By Geoffrey Croft

A seasonal City Parks Worker (CPW) with several priors was arrested on gun, drug and a slew of Illegal license plate charges in his East Flatbush home.
Charles McRae, 53 was arrested on December 9th after police found a .9-mm pistol, a .38-caliber pistol, marijuana,  Oxycodone and Codeine pills and 103 forged license plates in his NYCHA apt. on Farragut Road.

Police recovered the .9-mm Beretta in the kitchen next to two loaded magazines as well as a loaded .38 revolver with five rounds in the cylinder according to the criminal complaint.

Marijuana was found in three separate locations in McRae’s home - inside the oven in the kitchen, inside of boxes on the refrigerator and a drawer in the living room.

Police also found one-hundred and two forged temporary NY state license plates, one forged temporary Pennsylvania state license plate from a backpack on a table in the kitchen.

McRae was charged with more than a dozen charges, including two counts of Criminal Possession of a Weapon, Criminal Possession of a Controlled Substance,  Criminal Possession of marijuana, and 99 counts of  Criminal Possession of a Forged Instrument, Posession of Pistol Ammunition and possession of Ammunition Feeding Device.

He was released on his own recognizance - without bail - by Judge ShawnDya L. Simpson.

His next court date is February 8, 2017. 

McRae has been arrested at least five times going back to 1995,  four of them are sealed. His most recent arrest was in November 2012 for marijuana possession.

McRae worked in Brooklyn and has been a seasonal park employee for at least eight years according to a park source.

“He was offered a permanent job, now we know why he didn’t take it, he was too busy.”

Read More:

City Parks worker booked after cops find guns, drugs in his Brooklyn home
New York Daily News - December 10, 2016- By Laura Dimon 

Tuesday, December 6, 2016

Hate Speech: Queens Playground Repeatedly Targeted November 16th.

On November 29th a gold spray painted swastika was found at the entrance to Reiff Playground seen here after it was partly painted over by park workers.   (Photos: NYC Park Adovocates) Click on images to enlarge.


By Geoffrey Croft

The Maspeth playground discovered defaced with anti-Jewish and anti-police graffiti last week has been targeted three times over the last six weeks, NYC Park Advocates has learned.

Numerous swastikas have been found scrawled in the 1.5 acre playground on 59th Drive & Fresh Pond Road.   

Several pentagram and pentacle symbols were also drawn. Graffiti was found on play equipment with graphic sexual phrases were kids were seen playing, a derogatory phrase towards Jesus Christ were also discovered. 

The vandal (s) have hit play equipment,  the comfort station, handball courts,  basketball court,  benches and slides in three separate incidents - November 29, 16, and October 30th.

The most recent were discovered last Tuesday where two swastikas in gold spay paint were found including one on the sign at the entrance of the playground. 

November 29, 2016. A swastika in black spray paint and MDMA, aka ecstasy,  was illustrated with a face were found written on the ground of the playground.  “F**k the Jew,” written in gold spray paint was next to them.

"F**k the Police" and "shomoney,"  along with a money and heart symbol were found written in gold spray paint on the handball courts.  

Playground equipment slides, and the comfort station door and benches were also defaced with gold spray paint. 

The walls of a nearby factory building were also hit.

On November 15, six swastikas were found scrawled on the handball courts.  Graphic sexual actions naming two males were also seen on the courts. 

On October 30 playground equipment were defaced with graphic sexual suggestions while kids were seen playing on them. 

A large area of the exterior comfort station wall was also defaced including a derogatory phrase towards Jesus Christ along with the phrase,  “Death over Dishonor.”  A bathroom door was also hit.

The surface of the basketball court, the handball courts, and steps were also spray painted.

Park employees canvassed the area and talked with homeowners and businesses in an effort to obtain surveillance footage.

The NYPD said yesterday that there has been a 115 percent increase in bias crimes since the election last month. Hate crimes are up 35 percent for all of 2016 compared to the year prior. 

The most concentrated number of incidents has come in the weeks since November 8. Police reported 43 incidents compared to 20 during the same period of 2015.  Of the 43 attacks, 24 were directed at Jews—three times as many as occurred last November.

 Seven swastikas were found on the handball courts.

October 30th. 

November 29. Graffitti was found on the slide.

November 29th.

A large area of the exterior comfort station wall was also defaced including a derogatory phrase towards Jesus Christ.

(Photos: NYC Park Adovocates) Click on images to enlarge.