2002-01-05 / Front Page
Elderly Man Identified In Dog Mauling
By Howard Schwach
By Howard Schwach
Lev Lieberman, 74, of Far Rockaway has been identified as the second victim of the vicious dog attack that took place more than a week ago.
When Lieberman left his apartment for an early morning stroll along the beach, he took no identification with him, only his bottle of prescription pills. It was those pills, found on the beach nearby his body, which led police detectives from the 100 Precinct to his identification.
The attack left Lieberman with an "unidentifiable face and wounds that leave his survival in doubt," according to police sources.
Lieberman was still in critical condition at press time, according to a spokesperson for Jamaica Hospital.
The story began on Wednesday, December 26, when a pack of five wild dogs that had reportedly been terrorizing the area for months mauled two people on the boardwalk at Beach 68 Street in Arverne early Wednesday morning, nearly ripping the arm from one man before mauling a female jogger who came to assist him.
According to police reports and eyewitnesses, Marlene Fils-Aime, who lives in Arverne, was jogging on the boardwalk at about 8:05 a.m., when she saw a pack of five dogs "chewing on a man," who was later identified by police as Lieberman.
Before she could react, however, the dogs began attacking the jogger, clamping their jaws on her legs and lower body before two unidentified good Samaritans wielding sticks came to her aid and chased the feral dogs away.
"My mother was jogging when she saw the dogs feasting on this man," Fils-Aime's son, Marc, told reporters. "She ran over there to help him and they started attacking her. They started biting her legs, and she screamed for help. She said that she could see a bone in her leg."
The dogs, identified as a pit bull, two Rottweilers, and two mixed-breed mutts, were later picked up by police at a makeshift shelter on Beach 75 Street. They will reportedly be tested for disease and then put to death.
According to eyewitnesses at the scene, Lieberman had been stripped of his clothing and that "his face and scalp are gone." His arm will reportedly have to be amputated. He had no identification on his person or in his clothing, which was found torn nearby. Police surmised at the time that he may be a homeless person who wandered onto the beach because of his lack of identification.
One local resident, who regularly travels the area, told The Wave that the dogs regularly hang out in the garden-yard at the Claddagh INN on Rockaway Beach Boulevard and Beach 73 Street.
"They are bad news, and I go out of my way to pass them," he added. "One of the Rotts tried to rip my arm off last summer."
A homeless man who regularly lives in the makeshift shelter on Beach 75 Street admitted to police that one of the dogs belongs to him that that he feeds the others "when they come around."
The man, identified as Wilfredo Velez, was arrested, and later charged with failure to keep his dogs on a leash, a misdemeanor. The dogs were tracked by police to his shelter, where they were darted by Emergency Services police officers and taken away by Animal Control Officers.
The fate of the dogs has yet to be determined, according to animal control officers.