2009-02-27 / Front Page

Shooter's Suicide In BCHS Parking Lot

By Howard Schwach

Tracked to Rockaway through his cell phone signals and surrounded by police cars on all sides and helicopters above, a South Jamaica man, who earlier in the day had shot his live-in girlfriend, took his own life rather than surrender.

Police officers cut off Beach Channel Drive as they negotiated with a shooter who was sitting in his car inside the Beach Channel High School parking lot. Photo by Nicholas Briano. Police officers cut off Beach Channel Drive as they negotiated with a shooter who was sitting in his car inside the Beach Channel High School parking lot. Photo by Nicholas Briano. The dramatic Rockaway standoff, which drew cops from all over the borough, began when Michael James, 43, shot Antoinette Dicksen, 41, during an argument inside their home at about 11:30 a.m. on Wednesday, February 25, police say.

Dicksen's daughter, who heard the argument and a single gunshot, called police to 116-24 Van Wyck Expressway.

Cops found Dicksen in critical condition and were told that James had fled the scene in a silver Infinity. Dicksen was taken to Jamaica Hospital, where she was listed in critical but stable condition, police say.

Meanwhile, James drove south, not knowing that police officers in the Technical Assistance Response Unit (TARU) were tracking the shooter through his cell phone, which remained on and transmitting to a series of cell towers as he drove.

Detectives from the 106 Precinct, working with TARU, tracked him to Rockaway and a large-scale search on foot and from the air was launched in the west end of the peninsula.

At about 4 p.m., the NYPD's Aviation 14 eventually found the car sitting alone in a rear parking lot at Beach Channel High School, a deserted area that looks out on Jamaica Bay and the Manhattan skyline.

Police officials quickly ordered a lock-down of both Beach Channel High School and the Scholars' Academy, because they feared that James would come out of the car shooting.

The Cross Bay Bridge ramp to Beach Channel Drive was also closed down to keep traffic from exiting into the crime scene, and traffic on the local bridge was tied up back to Broad Channel, making it difficult for the Emergency Service Unit (ESU) and hostage negotiators to get to the scene.

When ESU cops approached the car at about 4:45 p.m., they found James dead of a gunshot wound in the head.

Captain Thomas Barrett, the commanding officer of the 100 Precinct, told residents at a meeting on Wednesday night that James was already dead when the police arrived on the scene.

Local residents were wary, but titillated by the episode.

"I didn't know what was going on or what to do," one person who lives across the street from the scene told The Wave. "The cops came and told us to stay in the house, to not go into the street. It was frightening, but it was better than a television show."

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