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Shooting

A violent dispute between two homeless men left one with a gunshot wound, and the other in court.

Alain Jean mugshot from SCPD
Alain Jean mugshot from SCPD

Alain Jean, 22, charged with shooting a homeless man in Port Jefferson Station on June 11, pleaded not guilty to charges of assault and criminal possession of a weapon when he was arraigned at Suffolk County District Court in Riverhead on Tuesday, according to his attorney and Suffolk County District Attorney Thomas Spota.

“He vehemently denies these allegations,” Jean’s Hauppauge-based attorney Donald Mates said in a phone interview Tuesday. “He can’t wait to get his story out there to explain what really happened.”

Jean’s bail was set at $500,000 cash or $1 million bond, according to a spokesman for Spota. Mates said his client wasn’t able to make bail as of Tuesday.

According to the Suffolk County Police Department, Jean shot the 22-year-old victim multiple times shortly after 12:30 p.m. on Union Street, which is between Hallock Avenue and Route 25A, and the Long Island Rail Road tracks in Port Jefferson Station.

The victim was treated for serious injuries at Stony Brook University Hospital. A spokesman for Spota said the weapon used in the shooting was a .22 caliber revolver.

Jean’s next court date is July 26.

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Residents read the names of all Charleston and Orlando victims, who each had a candle lit in their memory. Photo by Kevin Redding

By Kevin Redding

On Friday evening, a diverse group of pastors and residents showed that, in the wake of unspeakable tragedy, there is more good in the world than evil.

They gathered together at the Mount Sinai Congregational Church to honor the nine churchgoers who were killed a year ago in a shooting spree during a peaceful Bible study in Charleston, South Carolina, as well as the 49 killed in an all-too-similar fashion in a gay nightclub in Orlando last week. While both massacres are products of hatred and bigotry, those who attended Friday’s service united under a theme of love and acceptance.

The service of remembrance was organized by the Mount Sinai church and the Bethel African Methodist Episcopal Church in Setauket, where a North Shore family related to one of the nine people shot and killed go regularly and last year’s service for victims was held. Just a week after 21-year-old Dylann Roof sat down in a Charleston church, participated in the readings, engaged with others, and ultimately stood up to open fire and take lives, the Three Village community showed up in droves to pay respects.

Greatly touched by the healing that took place, Bethel AME pastor Rev. Gregory Leonard and Mount Sinai resident Tom Lyon were quick to ensure this year’s anniversary service and, in light of another mass murder, a call for unity and support seemed necessary now more than ever.

Willie White, a Setauket resident, holds up a picture of his second cousin, a victim in the Charleston shooting. Photo by Kevin Redding
Willie White, a Setauket resident, holds up a picture of his second cousin, a victim in the Charleston shooting. Photo by Kevin Redding

“It’s important that people of goodwill come together,” Leonard said to the intimate and emotional crowd. “We have to build bridges and get to know each other. As I press on in years, I think about the legacy that we will leave, and I hope all of us can say at one point that we were building some bridges, we came together and we cared and didn’t just let a moment pass us by.”

Setauket church member Willie White held up a picture of his cousin, the Rev. DePayne Middleton Doctor, one of the victims in Charleston, and spoke at length about dealing with a tragedy that hits so close to home.

His family in Charleston had to wait hours after news broke of the shooting before they knew anything, he said, reduced to unbearable panic trying to call and get hold of their loved one, who would soon be confirmed as one of the fallen.

He called to action the importance of not seeing one another as different, saying that we are capable of avoiding future tragedies if we stand together. This is something he notices often in the aftermath of a traumatizing incident.

“I saw people of all walks of life hugging each other,” White said. “Why can’t we live like that every day? On that particular night, Charleston changed. The people changed. Unfortunately, it took nine lives for a change. I’m sure there’s gonna be a change in Florida. But look how many lives it took. We can think back on so many lives that have been taken with guns. And still, guns are on the market.”

Emotionally battered and certainly passionate about a need for change, Shahina Chaudry, a Muslim from the area, stood up and explained that her brother was among the 67 people killed by terrorists in the 2013 Westgate shopping mall attack in Nairobi, Kenya, and she understands exactly what the grieving families are going through.

“May God be with them, may God make them strong,” she said. “And may there be big, big changes in this country and may we all be part of those changes. I’m happy to be with all of you.”

A resident named Ira Apsel then stood up and faced Chaudry, offering his condolences.

“An old Hebrew prayer is ‘shalom aleichem,’ meaning ‘peace be with you’, and the response is ‘aleichem shalom,’ meaning ‘and also with you’… Shalom aleichem.”

“Aleichem shalom,” Chaudry responded.

Apsel composed himself as much as possible when he said that everybody has so much in common, and the evil in society must not be allowed to keep everybody apart. Leonard helped solidify this notion by leading the church in a sing-along of “This Little Light of Mine” before the names of each and every victim of Charleston and Orlando were read and honored with lit candles.

Before the service ended and people took time to commiserate with each other, Mount Sinai pastor Ron Wood drove home the importance of acceptance.

“Places where you gather with others like you, essentially, are sanctuaries,” he said. “Where you can be who you are without judgment. Pulse was a sanctuary. AME Church was a sanctuary. A sanctuary isn’t a place to escape. It’s a place to be strengthened and nurtured.”

As everybody filed out of the church, they were holding each other, laughing and smiling, and appearing even more unified than they were upon entering only an hour or so prior. In the wake of a tragedy that should destroy all hope and joy, the Mount Sinai Congregational Church was certainly a place to be strengthened and nurtured.

Alain Jean mugshot from SCPD

A homeless man shot another in Port Jefferson Station on Saturday afternoon, following what authorities called a dispute between the two.

According to the Suffolk County Police Department, 22-year-old Alain Jean shot the victim, another homeless man of the same age, multiple times shortly after 12:30 p.m. on Union Street, which is between Hallock Avenue/Route 25A and the Long Island Rail Road tracks.

The victim was treated for serious injuries at Stony Brook University Hospital.

Police arrested Jean after the June 11 shooting and charged him with first-degree assault.

His attorney, Happauge-based Donald Mates, did not immediately return a call seeking comment on Monday.

The incident is the second violent one between homeless people that police have reported in the area over the last several days. On June 7, officers arrested and charged a woman for allegedly stabbing her partner to death in a parking lot.

Police said last week that 60-year-old Ada Robinson was arrested at the scene in the Home Depot parking lot on Middle Country Road in Coram, where she allegedly had fatally stabbed 55-year-old Ralph Anthony. She was charged with first-degree manslaughter.

Patrol officers had responded to a 911 call close to 7:30 p.m. that day when they found the victim, who was later pronounced dead at Brookhaven Memorial Hospital Medical Center in East Patchogue.

Both Robinson and Anthony were homeless, and they were “at least common-law husband and wife,” according to the Homicide Unit’s Lt. Kevin Beyrer. He said in an interview last week that the pair had been a couple for a long period of time, but he wasn’t sure if the two were legally married.

Robinson’s attorney, Ronkonkoma-based Jason Bassett, declined to comment on the case.

She has previous charges of assault with a weapon pending against her, one felony and one misdemeanor, stemming from an incident in May 2015, in which Beyrer confirmed that Anthony was also the alleged victim.

Her attorney in that case, Central Islip-based Robin Stanco, did not return a call seeking comment.

Detectives are still investigating the June 11 shooting in Port Jefferson Station. Anyone with information is asked to call the 6th Squad at 631-854-8652.

Park rangers would monitor Huntington Station parks to give a greater sense of police presence to the area. Stock photo

After a slew of violent incidents in Huntington Station, town Supervisor Frank Petrone (D) has proposed using park rangers to help monitor the area and improve security.

In the past two months, Suffolk County Police Department has publicly reported two dead bodies found in Huntington and three shootings in the area. Residents have asked officials at town board meetings for resolutions to the safety issue.

According to town spokesman A.J. Carter, the town plans to hire three to four park rangers, who would be recently retired or active but off-duty policemen and have the same powers as peace officers.

Although their jurisdiction specifically would be town parks, Carter said the park rangers would be allowed to intervene if they see activity on the roads or other areas outside the parks.

Huntington Station borders the Froehlich Farm Nature Preserve, where the body of a young woman was found in 2013, and includes the following parks within the neighborhood: Gateway Park on New York Avenue at Lowndes Avenue; Manor Field Park on East 5th Street; Depot Road Park; and Fair Meadows Park on East Pulaski Road and Park Avenue.

According to New York State criminal procedure law, peace officers can make warrantless arrests, use physical force to make an arrest or prevent an escape, carry out warrantless searches with probable cause and issue appearance tickets, among other powers. They can also carry firearms and take away weapons from people who do not have the proper licenses to carry.

All peace officers in New York need to go through a special training program.

Carter said Petrone has spent months researching the idea.

Many other towns on Long Island use systems like this, including Smithtown, which has a park ranger division comprised of “law enforcement personnel” acting as peace officers in town-owned facilities to “enforce town codes, parks rules and regulations, as well as state and federal laws,” according to Smithtown’s website.

Smithtown park rangers work in conjunction with Suffolk police, and Carter said Huntington plans to do the same. Duties for Smithtown rangers include preserving town property, deterring crime, arresting offenders and assisting in searches for missing persons.

“It’s another presence in the community with the ability to make arrests,” Carter said in a phone interview.

The town spokesman also said the money to hire peace officers would be taken from the part of the budget set aside for additional seasonal hires.

As for information on uniforms, salary, shift schedules and more, Carter said the program is still in the works and no other news is available at the moment.

Cesar Moncada mugshot from SCPD

By Elana Glowatz

Police have arrested two teenage stepbrothers in connection with one of the three shootings that took place in Huntington Station over the course of three days in late April.

Cesar Moncada mugshot from SCPD
Cesar Moncada mugshot from SCPD

The Suffolk County Police Department alleged on Thursday that 18-year-old Jonattan Canales and 19-year-old Cesar Moncada, who live in the same Tower Street home, shot a man in the foot while he was walking through the Long Island Rail Road commuter lot off New York Avenue.

When that shooting occurred on the night of April 23, police said 20-year-old Jose Jurado was walking in the lot when someone stepped out of a vehicle, pointed a gun at him and fired. Jurado, of Huntington Station, fled and made it to the 7-Eleven at New York Avenue and Depot Road, where another person called 911. The victim was treated at Nassau University Medical Center in East Meadow.

Detectives have charged Canales and Moncada with first-degree assault. They were scheduled to be arraigned on May 5 and attorney information was not immediately available.

Jonattan Canales mugshot from SCPD
Jonattan Canales mugshot from SCPD

According to the New York State court system’s online database, both the men have other charges pending against them: Canales for possession of a forged instrument and moving traffic violations, including unlicensed driving; and Moncada for criminal possession of marijuana and criminal possession of a weapon, for a loaded firearm.

The night of Jurado’s shooting was an active one for Huntington Station. About two hours after that incident, several shots were fired toward a home on East 6th Street, between Fairground Avenue and Lenox Road. Police said at the time that two friends were standing in the driveway when shots were fired in the house’s direction, with several of them hitting the home. Other bullets, police said, hit a vehicle in the driveway of the house next-door, where a child was asleep in the back seat.

The 8-year-old child was not hurt.

A few days later, several shots were fired near 10th Avenue. Officers responded to a ShotSpotter activation on that block, between Craven and West 15th streets. Five men who were standing in front of a home on the residential street reported hearing gunshots and seeing flashes of light, police said, but did not see anyone firing a gun.

According to police, no injuries were reported but spent bullet casings were found at the scene.

File photo.

Huntington Station had another night with gunshots, just a couple of days after two shootings left a man injured and came close to hitting a child.

No injuries were reported after several shots were fired near 10th Avenue in the early hours of Tuesday morning. The Suffolk County Police Department said officers responded to a ShotSpotter activation around 1:30 a.m. on that block, between Craven and West 15th streets.

Five men who were standing in front of a home on the residential street reported hearing gunshots and seeing flashes of light, police said, but did not see anyone firing a gun.

According to police, spent bullet casings were found at the scene.

The incident happened a little more than two days after back-to-back shootings echoed through Huntington Station. On Saturday night, one man was shot in the foot in a Long Island Rail Road commuter parking lot and just two hours later and a few blocks down, several shots were fired toward a home on East 6th Street. At that home, two friends were standing in the driveway when bullets hit the house and a vehicle in the driveway next door, where an 8-year-old child was asleep in the back seat.

The child was not hurt, police said. In the LIRR lot shooting, the victim fled to a nearby 7-Eleven, where someone called 911. He was in stable condition at the hospital.

Anyone with information about any of the shootings is asked to call the SCPD’s 2nd Squad detectives at 631-854-8252, or to call Crime Stoppers anonymously at 800-220-TIPS.

Huntington Station echoed with the sound of gunfire twice on Saturday night, with two incidents just a few blocks from one another that injured one man and almost caught a child in the crosshairs.

The Suffolk County Police Department reported that the shootings occurred in a Long Island Rail Road parking lot and then on a residential street a little more than two hours later.

In the first shooting, according to police, at about 8 p.m. a 20-year-old was walking through the LIRR commuter lot off New York Avenue when another man stepped out of a vehicle, pointed a gun at him and shot him in the foot. The victim, Huntington Station resident Jose Jurado, fled and got to the 7-Eleven at New York Avenue and Depot Road, where another person called 911.

Police said Jurado was in stable condition at Nassau University Medical Center in East Meadow.

Later that night, at about 10:15 p.m., several shots were fired toward a home on East 6th Street, between Fairground Avenue and Lenox Road. Police said two friends were standing in the driveway when shots were fired in the house’s direction, with several of them hitting the home. Other bullets, police said, hit a vehicle in the driveway of the house next-door, where a child was asleep in the back seat.

The 8-year-old was not hurt, police said.

Anyone with information about either of the shootings is asked to call the SCPD’s 2nd Squad detectives at 631-854-8252, or to call Crime Stoppers anonymously at 800-220-TIPS.

Councilwoman Jane Bonner and Councilman Michael Loguercio oversee the demolition. Photo from Town of Brookhaven

On March 21, Councilwoman Jane Bonner (C-Rocky Point) was joined by Councilman Michael Loguercio (R-Ridge) at the demolition of the building formerly known as the Oxygen Bar, on the northwest corner of Route 25A and Broadway in Rocky Point.

The demolition comes after numerous Brookhaven Town building code violations and resident complaints. The Town shut down the bar in 2011 due to an expired Place of Assembly permit after a non-fatal shooting of four people occurred there. It has been a vacant eyesore in the community ever since that time.

“This is a happy day in Rocky Point, and a long time coming,” Bonner said. “Removing this blight will keep the revitalization of our business district right on track. We’ve got more to do, and I look forward to working with our local business and community leaders to keep moving ahead.”

Related: Town purchases blighted Oxygen Bar in Rocky Point

The Town purchased the property in November 2015 and Bonner is working with the Rocky Point VFW to transform it into a veteran’s memorial square, which will serve as the gateway to the downtown business district.

“Removing blight has such an immediate, positive impact on the community,” Loguercio said. “I commend Councilwoman Bonner for her determination to get this eyesore demolished.”

File photo.

A man was shot in the early hours of Saturday morning behind a restaurant on New York Avenue.

The Suffolk County Police Department said 39-year-old Francisco Palma was sitting in a car in a parking lot behind Melissa Restaurant, which is located near West Pulaski Road, at about 1 a.m. when an unknown person fired two shots at his vehicle.

Police said Palma, a Farmingdale resident, was hit in his left arm and was treated for non-life-threatening injuries at Huntington Hospital.

Detectives from the SCPD’s 2nd Squad are investigating the shooting.

Anyone with information is asked to call the squad at 631-854-8252, or to call Crime Stoppers anonymously at 800-220-TIPS.

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Bethel AME Church in Setauket. File photo by Alyssa Melillo

“It changed, so how can we?”

That is the question Rev. Greg Leonard of Setauket’s Bethel African Methodist Episcopal Church has asked the Three Village community, and that is the question residents will have the chance to answer at a special service planned for next week. Leonard and more than 100 members of his church hosted a moving ceremony in the aftermath of June’s horrific shooting at the Emanuel African Methodist Episcopal Church in South Carolina, and he said Black History Month was an appropriate time to reflect.

“At the previous meeting, we started to build bridges to one another and we want to continue doing this,” he said. “And with this being Black History Month, Bethel wanted to take leadership and hold an event at which all people — because black history isn’t just for black people — can come together.”

Bethel AME scheduled the gathering for Saturday, Feb. 27 at 3 p.m. at the church, located at 33 Christian Ave. in Setauket.

Rev. Gregory Leonard leads a service at Bethel AME Church in Setauket. File photo by Alyssa Melillo
Rev. Gregory Leonard leads a service at Bethel AME Church in Setauket. File photo by Alyssa Melillo

The event flyer that Bethel AME Church has been distributed promoted the hash tag #PrayForCharleston, which went viral following the June 17, 2015 shooting that killed nine African Americans at a church in South Carolina. The flyer also challenged the Three Village community with moving the dialogue forward to address racial issues and injustice across America.

“The primary issue we’re talking about is change,” Leonard said. “It’s about how this change happens on a community-wide basis, and also on an individual basis.”

North Shore native Leroy White lost his second cousin DePayne Middleton Doctor in the tragedy and said the outpouring of support from Three Village families was overwhelming in the days following the shooting.

“What we saw was a community coming together so well that it was almost unbelievable,” White said in an interview in June. “The response was so overwhelming that we were taken aback by the number of people who showed up. It showed me that this is one of the better communities in America.”

Since the shooting, Leonard said he has already seen strides made across the country to enhance the discussion about race in America. He cited the removal of the Confederate flag outside a state building in South Carolina back in July as a pivotal moment showing what could be achieved through common understanding.

“That was a revolutionary moment,” he said. “I think no matter how people might have felt, the remembrance of the tragedy and also the great grace the people had in terms of forgiveness after the fact can begin to build bridges, even to people who feel they might oppose your stance on any particular matter.”

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