2012-08-10 / Columnists

Beachcomber

One west end resident said that it looked like “the old west” on Monday of last week, when police focused on Beach 118 Street and Rockaway Beach Boulevard after a gunpoint burglary went bad. Helicopters whirled overhead as cops with guns drawn looked through back yards for a second gunman. One Manhattan man was arrested, but the second got away, leaving his semi-automatic pistol behind. Some of his clothes were found in a garbage can near the Beach 116 Street subway, so cops conjecture that he changed clothes and managed to get on the A Train to make his escape.

The Graybeards Family Run has become one of Rockaway’s major annual events, along with the St. Patrick’s Day Parade and the Wounded Warrior Weekend. This year, with inclement weather predicted, hundreds of tots, tweens, teens and adults turned out for the series of runs. The after-party, held in the St. Francis de Sales playground, was also a big hit.

As we write this, there have been more than a dozen shootings in Rockaway this summer, including at least two homicides. That’s something of a record, even for Rockaway. While local politicians talk a good game about doing away with gun and gang violence, they seem to stop short of calling for tougher enforcement or stricter gun laws.

Edward Luhrs, a 33-year-old Breezy Point man who was arrested in May in front of the Blarney Tavern on Rockaway Point Boulevard for menacing a patron with a gun, has pleaded guilty to second degree criminal possession of a weapon this week. Luhrs pulled a .38 caliber handgun from his waistband on the night of May 28, and pointed it at Robert Willis, yelling “Back up, bro.” Several Breezy Point residents have called The Wave to point out that there are a lot of retired police officers and detectives living in the cooperative, and that all of them have multiple guns at home. They worry that, like Luhrs, whose father was reportedly an NYPD officer, others in their household could get access to those guns and use them for criminal purposes.

Periodically, a large chunk of concrete falls from the elevated line that stretches from Beach 108 Street to Mott Avenue in Far Rockaway. It happened again last week, missing by inches a woman who was driving on the Rockaway Freeway. While the MTA is spending millions to fix up the stations along the line (a good sign), they are doing little to repair the infrastructure between stations, where stretches of the elevated structure are in great need of repair. Perhaps the agency should put nets under the el to catch falling debris. If the MTA does nothing, there is a good chance that somebody will be badly hurt by a falling chunk of concrete sometime in the near future. With elections coming up, both State Senator Malcolm Smith and Congressman Gregory Meeks, our own Bobsey Twins, who are under investigation for things done both singularly and in tandem, are trying for a little rehabilitation. Meeks was on Channel Five News last week, joking about all the investigations he is undergoing and pooh poohing them as simple clerical errors. Smith, for his part, did a long interview (several hours) with a political blogger, explaining away all of his problems as political infighting. Unfortunately, neither Dave Price on Fox Five or Morgan Pehme on the City and State Blog had a good handle on all of their transgressions, which allowed for a lot of ground ball questions and few follow-ups. By the way, under the new redistricting plan, Smith will now be representing central Queens rather than Rockaway, unless he gets the Republican nod for a run for Mayor (as the Post reported last week). Meeks will represent nearly all of Rockaway in the House of Representatives unless he loses the election to a non-existent Republican candidate. The NYPD Community Affairs Bureau reminds residents that they can make an anonymous tip and receive a reward of $1,000 for information leading to the arrest of anybody possessing an illegal handgun by calling 1-866-gun-stop. In addition, you can turn in any operable handgun to either of our local precincts, transit districts or housing service areas and receive a $100 cash reward.

It is clear that the tough gun laws in New York City do not keep guns from other states out of the hands of our own gun thugs. Of the 4,973 guns that were used in New York City crimes in 2011, 407 came from Virginia, 368 from Pennsylvania, 349 from North Carolina, 341 from Florida, 332 from Georgia, 328 from South Carolina, 170 from Ohio and 110 from Texas. In fact, New York State is called a “market state” by the feds, because so many guns come from elsewhere. The remainder of the guns were home-grown or could not be traced as coming from a specific source.

The MTA has announced that one lane will be closed in each direction most Saturdays on the Cross Bay Veterans Memorial Bridge from now until November of next year. The lane closings will take place between 6 a.m. and 4 p.m. In addition, there will be a continuing closure of lanes on weekdays between 7 a.m. and 6:30 p.m. All the work is related to a $17 million project to rehabilitate the concrete piers beneath the bridge.

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