Police & Fire

Setauket Fire District is seeking to add an additional full-time equivalent paid position to its ranks. File photo by Bob O’Rourk

The Setauket Fire District is looking to add an additional paid firefighter position to its ranks.

On March 14, the district will hold a public hearing to provide residents the opportunity to voice their opinions to fire commissioners about adding one full-time equivalent position — eight hours a day for five days a week — to the district.

Setauket boasts a little more than 100 active volunteer members, and Aug. 23 the commissioners approved three FTE positions, which translated into four per diem fire coordinators transitioning to paid firefighters.

David Sterne, district manager, said industry standard guidelines call for a fire pumper crew to consist of a minimum of four people. In August, after three FTEs were approved, the hope was for three paid firefighters and at least one volunteer to ride together every weekday from 7 a.m. to 3 p.m.

“While we’ve had fair amount of volunteer members doing duty crews with our career crew, it is not happening often enough to create the situation where we have a four-person crew the majority of the time during these hours.”

— David Sterne

“While we’ve had fair amount of volunteer members doing duty crews with our career crew, it is not happening often enough to create the situation where we have a four-person crew the majority of the time during these hours,” Sterne said.

The goal of the March 14 decision is to ensure they get a minimum crew during crucial hours.

“The board is not expanding the hours or days of coverage,” Sterne said. “This was all budgeted for and will not impact the budget in any adverse way.”

At the Aug. 23 meeting, approximately three dozen people filled the district headquarters meeting room and hallway. Among the concerned residents that spoke during the public hearing was former fire Commissioner Ed Forrester, who at the time said he felt there hadn’t been enough conversation about the title change.

“I really think it’s going to be the beginning of the death of the volunteer fire system,” Forrester said. “It’s going to spread like the wildfires out East and it’s going to Selden and Centereach and Coram, and everyone is going to say they need this. I actually feel it’s a want right now.”

At the meeting, Commissioner Jay Gardiner said the district has come a long way since the days when volunteers worked in the area at local mom and pop stores or as fishermen. He added due to the high cost of living in the area it has become prohibitive for many to establish careers near where they live, and work schedules make it impossible for them to volunteer.

He said the department also has seen a significant rise in the median age of its members. Many of the district’s senior members no longer qualify as interior firefighters due to their advancing age. This becomes an issue during daytime hours.

Sterne said the commissioners have been actively involved with the department in helping to recruit more volunteers. Another class of recruits is due to be sworn-in.

“The goal of daytime, weekday augmentation is to ensure that the community receives our service quickly from highly trained personnel,” Sterne said. “Whether or not those people receive a paycheck is irrelevant to the person receiving the help. We are very lucky to have the dedicated volunteers we have to provide the service that they provide.”

Sterne added the majority of volunteer members provide overnight crews.

“[They] spend many a sleepless night responding to alarms, only to have to go to their ‘paid’ job the next day,” he said. “It is with a strong sense of pride that these members serve their community, and it is with the same pride that the board looks to help them and provide them with assistance in doing so during the difficult times.”

The public hearing will be held at the Setauket Fire District administration building located at 26 Hulse Road in Setauket, March 14 at 6:30 p.m.

East Northport volunteer firefighters responded to fire at a cemetery this past Saturday.

The East Northport Fire Department received numerous calls Feb. 23 reporting flames coming out of a maintenance building on the grounds of Genola Rural Cemetery off Laurel Road at approximately 1:30 p.m., according to fire department spokesman Steve Silverman.

Volunteer firefighters arriving on the scene found a one-story building fully engulfed in flames and began to aggressively attack the blaze. It took approximately 60 firefighters using eight trucks under the direction of Assistant Chiefs Tom Bourne and Steve Macedonio to bring the fire
under control within 40 minutes.

Both the Northport and Greenlawn fire departments assisted by providing additional apparatus and volunteer firefighters. Cyanide Response Team paramedics from the Dix Hills Fire Department responded to the scene in case of injuries from smoke inhalation. The Commack Fire Department and volunteer ambulance corps provided standby coverage during the alarm.

The fire appears to be accidental in origin, according to Silverman. It is under investigation by the Town of Huntington fire marshal. There were no injuries reported, but the cemetery’s maintenance building was extensively damaged.

Photo from Flickr/David Rodriguez Martin

St. James residents were surprised to hear a shotgun go off the evening of Feb. 23. The gun was aimed at the sky, but instead of shooting at birds, a man was aiming at an unmanned drone.

Members of Missing Angels-Long Island, a Bay Shore-based organization that searches for missing pets, were using a drone to search for a missing dog named Dezi in the St. James area, according to a Facebook post.

Suffolk County police said Gerard Chasteen, 26, of St. James allegedly fired three shots into the air in a residential area, striking the drone at around 4:45 p.m.

Chasteen was charged with third-degree criminal mischief and prohibited use of a weapon after an investigation by Suffolk police. Multiple shotguns were also confiscated from the residence. Chasteen was issued a field appearance ticket and was to be arraigned at a later date.

Missing Angels did not respond to requests for comment. But Facebook posts from the organization show Dezi was found and returned home the next day, Feb. 24.

The drone used, a Mavic 2 Zoom model, is valued at about $1,500 online, depending on configurations and accessories. Unmanned drones have seen a surge of popularity in recent years, and some 7 million drones are expected to fly over American skies by 2020, according to the Federal Aviation Association. A drone is considered an unmanned aircraft, according to Suffolk County law.

In response to the Feb. 23 incident, members of Missing Angels started a fundraiser the next day on Facebook to replace the destroyed drone. Within the first two days the fundraiser reached its goal of $1,500 to replace the drone. Organizers extended the fundraiser to $1,900 to cover the expenses for a universal microchip scanner. The group has now raised more than $2,100 for a new drone.

The organization said on a Facebook post these pieces of equipment are important to continue to help search and track pets on Long Island.

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Suffolk County police are searching for men who allegedly shoplifted from a Setauket Kohl's. Photo from Suffolk County Police Department
Police are searching for suspects in a shoplifting case who fled in the white car shown above. Photo from Suffolk County Police Department

Suffolk County Crime Stoppers and 6th Precinct Crime Section officers are seeking the public’s help to identify and locate the men who allegedly stole items from a Setauket store last month.

Two men allegedly stole clothing from Kohl’s, located at 5000 Nesconset Highway, Jan. 5, at approximately 8 p.m. The men fled the store in a white vehicle being driven by another man.

Suffolk County Crime Stoppers offers a cash reward of up to $5,000 for information that leads to an arrest. Anyone with information about these incidents can contact Suffolk County Crime Stoppers to submit an anonymous tip by calling 1-800-220-TIPS, texting “SCPD” and your message to “CRIMES” (274637) or by email at www.tipsubmit.com. All calls, text messages and emails will be kept confidential.

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Photos of woman and man police say allegedly stole food from BJ's in Setuaket. Photos from SCPD

Suffolk County Crime Stoppers and Suffolk County Police 6th Precinct Crime Section officers are seeking the public’s help to identify and locate the man and woman who allegedly stole food from a Setauket store.

A man and woman allegedly stole food from BJ’s Wholesale Club, located at 4000 Nesconset Highway,  Jan. 20 at around 10:10 a.m.

Suffolk County Crime Stoppers offers a cash reward of up to $5,000 for information that leads to an arrest. Anyone with information about these incidents can contact Suffolk County Crime Stoppers to submit an anonymous tip by calling 1-800-220-TIPS, texting “SCPD” and your message to “CRIMES” (274637) or by email at www.tipsubmit.com.

All calls, text messages and emails are kept confidential.

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Two men smashed the front window of the Rocky Point Barbershop in the Rocky Point business district and stole store memorabilia Feb. 20, store security camera footage shows.

Security camera footage from Rocky Point Barbershop shows two men robbing the front display case. Image from Rocky Point Barbershop

The two individuals, one wearing a hood and the other a bandana, broke the front window of the barbershop, located at 576 Route 25A at around 2:45 a.m., store owner Yavuz Can said. The robbers didn’t manage to trip any alarms as they went in, despite motion sensors on the inside. Store employees did not learn about the breakin until later in the morning, and police were contacted around 8 a.m.

The shop, known in the area for its $10 men’s haircuts, kept a number of expensive memorabilia in the front case under the register. Can said the men stole hundreds of dollars worth of collectible coins from the case. The robbers also took display hand grenades and eight display knives, which the shop owner said were valued at about $60 each. Also stolen was a 20-gauge shotgun and shells, worth around $175. Yavuz added the broken front door glass would cost the store around another $400 to replace. The robbers did not steal from the cash register.

“This hasn’t happened before,” the shop owner said.

One of the figures captured on video at the break-in. Photo from Rocky Point Barbershop

Suffolk County Police confirmed the shop had been broken into that morning and that items were taken, though they could not confirm any information on the ongoing investigation.

Yavuz asked anybody who might recognize the people in the video to contact Suffolk County Police.

Suffolk County Crime Stoppers offers a cash reward of up to $5,000 for information that leads to an arrest. Anyone with information about these incidents can contact Suffolk County Crime Stoppers to submit an anonymous tip by calling 1-800-220-TIPS, texting “SCPD” and your message to “CRIMES” (274637) or by email at www.tipsubmit.com.

All calls, text messages and emails are kept confidential.

 

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Police allege Nicholas Marino robbed a Capital One in Bohemia in January of 2019. Photo from Suffolk County Police Department

Suffolk County police arrested a Selden man Feb. 18 for allegedly robbing a Bohemia bank last month.

The arrest of Nicholas Marino, 28, followed an investigation by Major Case Unit detectives. He was charged with third degree robbery, criminal possession of a controlled substance and false personation. He was arraigned at First District Court in Central Islip Feb. 19.

Police allege Marino entered a Capital One, located at 4110 Veterans Memorial Highway, approached a teller and presented a note demanding cash. The teller complied with his demands and gave him cash from the drawer. Marino fled on foot eastbound on Veterans Memorial Highway and then southbound on Corporate Drive.

Commack HIgh School. Photo from Google Maps

Suffolk County police officers arrested a man who works as an evening custodian for the Commack School District after a search found he had a stash of illegal guns and drugs inside his Patchogue home.

Patrick Musumeci, 30, was arrested Feb. 6 by police officers and faces 24 drug- and weapons-related charges.

Patrick Musumeci. Photo from SCPD

Following an investigation, Suffolk’s 5th Squad Special Operations Team and Emergency Section Service officers along with 5th Precinct Gang Unit officers executed a search warrant on Musumeci’s home on Wilmarth Avenue at approximately 5:35 a.m.

In the raid, officers found 16 guns inside the Patchogue home, including one Glock semiautomatic handgun, a Taurus semiautomatic handgun and four assault rifles, with ammunition. Two of the guns, a Smith & Wesson pistol and Ruger pistol had both previously been reported stolen. In addition to the guns, officers seized five sets of brass knuckles and a switchblade.

In addition to the weapons, Suffolk County police officers seized quantities of both prescription opiates and illegal drugs from the Patchogue home. The drugs found included oxycodone, Xanax, concentrated cannabis, marijuana, morphine pills and packaging materials.

Musumeci is charged with three counts of criminal possession of a controlled substance in the third degree, criminal possession of a controlled substance in the fifth degree, six counts of criminal possession in the seventh degree, two counts of criminal use of drug paraphernalia in the second degree, criminal possession of marijuana in the fourth degree, five counts criminal possession of a weapon in the third degree, four counts criminal possession of a firearm, criminal possession of a weapon in the fourth degree and one count of grand larceny in the fourth degree.

Commack school officials reacted to news of Musumeci’s arrest by posting a letter to district residents on its website.

“The district has found no evidence to date that he ever brought a weapon or drugs onto school property,” reads the district’s statement. “To date, we have not found any suspicious activity on school property.”

Prior to being hired, Musumeci was fingerprinted and underwent a background check by New York State, according to the district. He was cleared, and state law would have required the district to be notified of any subsequent arrests, of which they claim to have received none.

Commack school officials said the district also has conducted an extensive search of the employee lockers, areas of the buildings the evening custodian was responsible for overseeing and reviewed buildingwide video footage in the wake of the allegations.

“The district and its outside security consultant will continue to review its safety and security plans and determine whether or not additional precautions are warranted,” read the district’s statement.

Musumeci was arraigned Feb. 7 in 1st District Court in Central Islip. He was ordered held in lieu of $100,000 cash or $200,000 bond, which had not been posted as of Feb. 13.

Commack school officials said their investigation into the matter is ongoing and the district is fully cooperating with the Suffolk police department.

A woman takes part in the 9th annual Glen Ciano Blood Drive at the Commack Fire Department. Photo by David Luces

By David Luces

Hundreds lined up and waited to donate blood during the 9th annual Glen Ciano Blood Drive Feb. 9. The event, hosted by the Commack Fire Department and Suffolk County Police Department, is held in honor of a police officer and volunteer firefighter who died in the line of duty 10 years ago this month.

Suffolk County Police Officer Glen Ciano. File Photo.

Ciano, who served for more than 20 years as a police officer at the 2nd Precinct in Huntington, died while assisting another officer at a traffic stop Feb. 22, 2009. While at the intersection of Vanderbilt Motor Parkway and Commack Road in Commack, his vehicle was struck by a 2007 Dodge Magnum and burst into flames upon hitting a nearby telephone pole. Commack firefighters responded to the scene.

Ciano is survived by his wife, Sue, and two children, Samantha and Daniel.

“The Suffolk Police Department will never forget Glen and the dedicated service he provided to our communities,” Suffolk Police Commissioner Geraldine Hart said. “Though I didn’t have the honor of working alongside Glen — I’ve heard stories about the type of officer he was and his presence is missed to this day.”

Since 2011, a total of 1,084 donations have been accepted in Ciano’s honor, according to the New York Blood Center. These pints of blood have helped save the lives of more than 3,000 people, Yadira Navarro, business development manager for the blood center, said.

Due to unstable winter temperatures, the flu season and other challenges, blood donations Saturday were vital as the NY Blood Center said it’s in the midst of an emergency blood appeal, according to Navarro. Before the blood drive, the center’s blood had only enough pints in the storage to get through three to four days of standard operations — a healthy blood supply level is about 6 to 7 days.

“You are honoring such a wonderful officer who really served his community and this is one way where we can be a hero and save lives,” Navarro said.

Every year it means a little more.”

— Sue Ciano

Patrick Fazio, commissioner of the Commack Fire Department, said there’s no better way to honor Ciano’s life than donating blood. Smithtown resident Brian Moore who was among the hundreds who showed up Saturday, said giving blood can help so many lives.

A total of 234 pints of blood were donated at this year’s event, exceeding last year’s number of donations at 222.

“Every year it means a little more,” said Ciano’s wife, Sue. “I see friends, family — I meet new people every year.”

Sue Ciano said she stays at the blood drive for the whole day, talking to as many people as she can, and says events like these means her husband won’t be forgotten.

Millers Pond in Smithtown. File photo by Rita J. Egan

Suffolk County’s Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals is offering a $2,000 reward for information leading to those individuals who might be responsible for decapitating six birds found in Smithtown and Great River.

The Town of Smithtown’s Public Safety Department received an anonymous phone call Feb. 4 reporting three dead birds were found near the Maple Avenue and 4th Avenue entrance to Millers Pond County Park, according to town spokeswoman Nicole Garguilo. The public safety officers then immediately notified the Suffolk SCPA.

Roy Gross, chief of the nonprofit animal advocacy group, said his volunteers working in cooperation with Smithtown park rangers and Suffolk County Police Department found the bodies of two chickens and a blue jay that had been beheaded lying next to a bloodied cardboard box.

“People do these animal sacrifices, and it’s absolutely illegal. They will say they are allowed to do it because it’s a religious right. It is not.”

— Roy Gross

The following day, Feb. 5, the SCPA received a report of three decapitated birds, two chickens and a dove, left alongside Wheeler Road in Great River. Gross said additional items left at the site raised questions as to whether the animals’ deaths were ritualistic in nature.

“We’ve had numerous cases over the years,” he said. “It has all the indications of a religious animal sacrifice.”

The SPCA contacted Marcos Quinones, a retired New York police detective of 36 years and renowned occult specialist, on these two cases. Quinones said he has worked with law enforcement officials at federal, state and local levels on various causes related to occult matters.

“Santeria is a nature-based religion, and it varies based on what god or goddess you worship, each has an element of nature they are thought to control,” he said. “If you needed something from them, you would do a ritual.”

Quinones said based on the location of the six birds’ bodies and items left with them, he believes the birds were killed elsewhere and brought to the pond as a religious offering for Oshun, goddess of the rivers and lakes.

“Santeria is basically a good, nature-based religion, but sometimes people take something good and misuse it,” the occult expert said. “You have to ask yourself what’s the purpose of this ritual?”

Under New York State law, to kill an animal without any intention to consume it is illegal, according to Gross.

“People do these animal sacrifices, and it’s absolutely illegal,” he said. “They will say they are allowed to do it because it’s a religious right. It is not.”

In February 2018, the Suffolk SPCA found the bodies of two hens frozen in the ice at Millers Pond. Gross said the chickens’ heads were found a short distance away, but it was originally thought that other animals may have ripped it apart from the body as potential food.

“We canvassed the area to see if anyone had chickens that were lost,” the chief said. “We did a thorough investigation but couldn’t get any information on it.”

“If there’s an arrest and conviction, that’s a check I’m happy to write.”

— Roy Gross

Gross said twice the SPCA has found a cow’s tongue nailed to a tree across from Bayard Cutting Arboretum in Great River. Upon further investigation, SPCA volunteers discovered candle wax, pins and nine slips of paper bearing individual names had been inserted inside the cow’s tongue, according to Gross. Another time the cow’s tongue was attached by a fishing lure and left out with a bowl of livestock feed as an offering.

“Imagine if a child had come along and grabbed it or seen something like that,” Gross said. “It’s bad enough for an adult, walking along and seeing a tongue hanging from a tree or a beheaded animal. It’s barbaric and should not exist in this day and age.”

If an arrest is made, Gross said the individual will face misdemeanor charges of animal cruelty to wildlife or farm life, which carries a maximum penalty of up to a year in jail and a $1,000 fine for each offense.

The SPCA is asking anyone who may have information related to the recent discoveries in Smithtown and Great River to contact the nonprofit organization at 631-382-7722. All calls are confidential.

“If there’s an arrest and conviction, that’s a check I’m happy to write,” Gross said.

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