2008-06-20 / Front Page

A-Train Homicide

By Howard Schwach

Adispute among members of three Hispanic gangs last Friday led to a brutal stabbing that left a 17-yearold teen lying dead on the Beach 98 Street A Train subway platform, police say.

At about 3:50 p.m. on June 13, two transit police officers patrolling the Beach 98 Street station were alerted that there was a fight on the A Train coming northbound from Beach 116 Street.

The fight, which involved more than a dozen teens, was so violent that the two, Police Officer Theresa Boeninghaus and Police Officer Corey Hayes, the transit district's crime prevention officer, called for help. Numerous units from the two local precincts and the detective bureau responded.

The fight spilled out onto the platform and responding police found a man, later identified as Ariel Pena Rodriquez of Manhattan, with several stab wounds to his neck, right leg and groin.

Paramedics from the Fire Department's Emergency Medical Service stabilized Pena and rushed him to the trauma center at Jamaica Hospital.

Police secured the subway car and kept everybody on board for questioning.

One officer at the scene said that so many of the witnesses had blood on them that it was impossible to tell who had attempted to help the victim and who had stabbed him.

Police sources say that an interview of the witnesses revealed that three groups of teens, possibly members of the Latin Kings, the Dominicans Don't Play (DDP) and the Trinitarios gangs were involved in the melee.

Some of the teens had boarded the train at Beach 116 Street when police there closed the beaches because of numerous fights, one eyewitness said. Others boarded at the Beach 105 Street station.

Police say that the groups confronted each other as the train reached Beach 98 Street. It was there, police say, that the victim was approached by a group of seven to ten teens and punched repeatedly. He was stabbed, police say, as he tried to exit the train.

Rodriquez was declared dead at 8:43 p.m. by an emergency room doctor at Jamaica Hospital.

All of the eyewitnesses were detained and questioned by detectives from the 100 Precinct and Queens Homicide Squad.

Three knives were recovered by the Crime Scene Unit from the subway car, sources said.

Police arrested nine individuals in connection with the homicide. Eight of them were arraigned in Queens Criminal Court and one unidentified 14-year-old had her case transferred to Family Court because of her age.

Four of the defendants were charged with a top count of murder, two with gang assault, one with manslaughter and the other with hindering prosecution, according to a spokesperson for Queens District Attorney Richard Brown.

The defendants are:

Ariel Casares, 17, of Putnam Avenue in Brooklyn, who is charged with murder in the second degree, gang assault in the first degree, manslaughter and criminal possession of a weapon. The criminal complaint against him alleges that he stabbed the victim in the lower abdomen. He was remanded without bail;

Charles Jaquez, 17, of Portland Avenue in Brooklyn, who is charged with murder, gang assault, manslaughter and criminal possession of a weapon. The criminal complaint alleges that he stabbed Rodriquez a number of times while two others slashed him and kicked him in the face. He was remanded without bail;

Assad Cedeno, 18, of Putnam Avenue in Brooklyn, who is charged with murder, gang assault, manslaughter and criminal possession of a weapon. He allegedly attempted to use a box cutter to slash the victim and punched him repeatedly in the face and body. He was remanded without bail;

Jason Villauueva, 18, of Mujer Street in Brooklyn, who is charged with murder, gang assault, manslaughter and criminal possession of a weapon. He allegedly stabbed the victim with a sharp object and punched him repeatedly. He was remanded without bail;

Debbie Rodriquez, 19, of 84-18 Rockaway Beach Boulevard in the Hammel Houses, who allegedly slapped the victim while the others slashed him. In addition, she is charged with wiping the blood from one of the knives used to kill Rodriquez and then hiding the knife in her bag. She is charged with gang assault, hindering prosecution and tampering with evidence. Her bail was set at $100,000;

Joseph Barrera, 17, of Catalpia Avenue in Brooklyn, who is charged with gang assault, hindering prosecution and tampering with physical evidence. He allegedly took the bag from Rodriquez and sat on it, blocking it from police. His bail was set at $150,000;

Sheldon Polanco, 17, of South 8 Street in Brooklyn, who is charged with hindering prosecution and tampering with physical evidence. The criminal complaint charges that he attempted to keep the evidence from police. His bail was set at $10,000.

The spokesperson for DA Brown said that all of the defendants were arraigned on June 15. They are all due back in court on June 30.

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I don't understand how the building and rezoning requests continue on this peninsula. What exactly is the Mayor doing about this supposed Urban Renewal area besides letting two family homes go up all over?

Shootings are up in Arverne, guns are being collected like crazy, the only mass transit train is not safe with the recent slashing/stabbing (Not to mention the A train takes a circuitous route through all bad parts of Brooklyn to Manhattan) and the new ferry runs what, three trips each way a day? A far cry from the Staten Island Ferry eh?

NOTHING else has changed for the better here, except perhaps the Scholars Academy at JHS 180 and a new Rite Aid. We did not need a Sleepys or another bank on 116th Street. Peninsula is a community hospital with no trauma center.

Blockbuster is gone, no movie theatre, who knows when the new YMCA and Transit Center will be ready and how safe will they be when murders are up in Far Rockaway?

Week after week we are reading about shootings in the housing projects that seem will never come down and stabbings at overcrowded yet totally dilapidated 116th Street (where the new zoning is being requested) started the first week of the summer season.

New houses which are two family only and "LUXURY" condos aren't enough. Why no single family homes? Where are the green areas and parking for all of this? Are streets to be closed to parking in summer and alternate side of the street everywhere else? Nice for the ticket writing services of the city. Have you seen the towing going on on Shore Front in the early mornings? It looks like they're having a field day with whole teams working on towing cars.

Where are the services and shopping? New Schools? Entertainment other than bars? High quality restaurants? Beach-going is a seasonal thing and because we are zoned residential, we cannot have many things that Coney Island can have. But do we have to have NOTHING?

What happened to the pool at Riis Park? What is being done with the Neponsit Home? Where are the indoor/outdoor concert halls/theaters? Where are sports complexes to rival Chelsea Piers in Manhattan? This IS New York City right?

WHY ARE THE FREE TREES THE MAYOR HAS SET ASIDE ONLY FOR FAR ROCKAWAY ON ONE OR TWO STREETS? THEY SHOULD BE PLANTED ALL OVER THE PENINSULA! Up and down Beach Channel Drive and The Boulevard. ASK FOR THEM for your street or building (Dayton), THEY ARE FREE! Now THAT would be urban renewal!

I feel for the merchants on 116th Street, who have tried to improve their lot over the decades. I also feel for the people who bought into the pictures of a serene 116th Street with two beach chairs and bought an expensive condo there, only to watch police action and ambulances. When did 116th Street ever have just two beach chairs on it during the high season?

Luxury has no meaning to me any longer. How and to whom are these new condos actually marketing their very high priced units? At seminars in Manhattan! They think a ton of rich people are going to move in! What are they basing that belief on? Who is really moving in to them? Not the renters who are already here for decades, they can't afford these prices.

Have you seen how filthy the beaches, streets and boardwalk have been in the mornings already? Have you looked at the condition of the boardwalk? But at least Whaleamena looks good right?

When is REAL change coming to Rockaway?


Maureen E. Ritter

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