2006-06-23 / Front Page

St. John's Teens In Gunpoint Robbery: Cops

Police Seek Suspect Who Pulled Gun
By Brian Magoolaghan

Three teenagers from a local boys home were arrested late Tuesday night after they allegedly assaulted one man and robbed another at gunpoint, police said. Another suspect is still being sought.

The teens, residents of St. John's Residence for Boys located on Beach 110 Street, violently attacked one man in Rockaway Park and then held up another teenager at gunpoint on the boardwalk just six blocks away, police said. The incidents launched an intense police search for the armed suspect.

The first victim, a 51-year-old Rockaway Park man, was walking on Newport Avenue at about 9:30 p.m. when he crossed paths with teens at the corner of Beach 120 Street, police said. They stared the man down, and as they passed each other, one of the teens punched the man in his face, dislocating his jaw. Two other teens punched the man in his face and the back of the head, sending him to the ground.

The victim, who asked not to be identified, told The Wave that he heard his jaw pop when he was punched and that his teeth cut into his lip when he fell down. A bag of groceries he was carrying spilled out over the street.

"They just laughed and kept on walking," the first victim said. "I didn't know what was going to happen, but they just kept walking, thank God."

The man went home and called police, who responded to his home and started taking a report.

About two hours later, the same group of teens allegedly pulled a gun on a 17-year-old Rockaway Beach man who was walking on the boardwalk at Beach 114 Street. The teens slugged their second victim in the face, causing a cut on his right eye. Then they stripped him of his cash and fled on foot, police said.

The attack was reported to police and officers across Rockaway heard the call over their radios. Police arrested the three teens from St. John's- two 16-year-olds and one 15-year-old - but the hunt continued for a fourth suspect who is thought to have possessed the gun. An intense search was launched, with police concentrating on several blocks surrounding St. John's. Officers searched streets, parks and alleyways in the area, with police helicopters scanning from above.

The officers interviewing the first victim at his home in Rockaway Park were monitoring the search on their radios and thought there could be a connection to the first event. The first victim was brought to the 100 Precinct Stationhouse, where he identified the teens as his attackers.

"I couldn't believe that they got this guy," he said of the teen who, he said, dealt the crushing blow to his jaw. He said the second victim and his mother, who was "raising hell," were also at the stationhouse.

The teens from St. John's are charged with armed robbery, assault, resisting arrest and harassment, and they also face weapons and stolen property charges, police said. The Wave is withholding their names because of their age. The fourth suspect and the gun were not found. Police asked anyone with information to call the 100 Precinct Detective Unit at (718) 318-4221.

Brother Tom Trager, executive director of St. John's, said his staff was, and would continue to be, "100 percent cooperative with authorities."

He said the 15-year-old had a 9:30 curfew and the 16-year-olds a 10:30 curfew. Police said the second incident happened at about 9:45 p.m.

Trager said boys in the home do not have to pass though metal detectors or undergo regular searches and that searches are only performed when there is the suspicion of wrongdoing.

"If there was a firearm involved, I don't know where they got it or where they had it," Trager said.

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