2005-08-05 / Community

Death Of Violent Vagrant Remains A Mystery

By Howard Schwach


The paper memorial to John Trainor set up on Beach 116 Street by his friends.
The paper memorial to John Trainor set up on Beach 116 Street by his friends. John Trainor lived a short and sometimes violent life.

Trainor, 37, who spent most of his days and nights haunting merchants on Beach 116 Street, died two weeks ago on the street where he virtually lived.

The reports of Trainor’s death are as conflicted as those of his life.

Police sources say that Trainor was operated on at Jamaica Hospital and had staples in his scalp from that operation when he died.

According to the official story, Trainor signed himself out of the hospital against medical advice and came back to Rockaway.

Trainor being taken to Jamaica Hospital by EMS workers earlier in the summer.Trainor being taken to Jamaica Hospital by EMS workers earlier in the summer. On the night he died, Trainor shared a meal with another street person at Wendy’s on Beach Channel Drive and then walked back to Beach 116 Street, where he collapsed, hit his head on the sidewalk, and died.

Trainor could often be seen on the street, red-faced and drunk, standing in front of Pickles and Pies or Last Stop, talking with the other street people.

Callers to The Wave say that Trainor was a bright young man whose life was wasted on liquor. Others say that he was a talented musician.

Still others claim that he was killed by an uncaring Rockaway community that saw him constantly in trouble and did nothing to help him.

There is no doubt that his last year was filled with violence.

In April of 2004, Trainor was arrested after he had a fight with a diner at the Last Stop Café. According to eyewitnesses, Trainor was banging on the window of the restaurant and a patron came out to ask him to stop. The argument turned into a fight that escalated when a retired police officer pulled his gun to defend Trainor. The man who Trainor was fighting with was shot once in the cheek.

In early October, Trainor was arrested again for assaulting a worker in the Dunkin’ Donuts shop on Beach 116 Street.

Trainor had reportedly ordered a sandwich and then refused to pay for it. When the worker tried to take the food back, Trainor reportedly swung at him and then tried to steal first the cash register and then the store’s tips glass.

In March, the Rockaway Chamber of Commerce hosted a meeting with local police to discuss problems and Trainor quickly became the focus of the meeting.

Police officials explained that loitering was no longer a crime and that Trainor could not be asked to leave the street unless he committed a crime of some sort.

Just weeks later, Trainor was found on the ground nearby the beachfront. He was taken by ambulance to Jamaica Hospital, where he was reportedly operated on.

The Wave has attempted to ascertain how he died with little success. His body was reportedly claimed by an unidentified local person who had him buried quietly in a Long Island church cemetery.

Just this week, a paper memorial to Trainor went up on Beach 116 Street.

It is clear that not many of the merchants on that shopping street will mourn his memory.

“You hate to see anybody die that young,” one store owner who asked to remain anonymous said. “But, the street will be a better place for everybody now that he is gone.”

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