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Suffolk County Police Department

A man allegedly entered a Port Jefferson Station gas station Oct. 13, displayed what appeared to be a gun and demanded cash. Photos from SCPD

A man wearing a ski mask allegedly entered Speedway gas station in Port Jefferson Station Oct. 13, displayed what appeared to be a hand gun and demanded cash, according to Suffolk County police.

Sixth Squad detectives are investigating the incident, which occurred at the gas station located at 501 Patchogue Road in Port Jefferson Station at about 2:30 a.m. Saturday morning, police said. When the masked man made the request, the gas station employee did not comply, and the robber fled, and there were no injuries, police said.

Detectives believe this robbery is connected to an armed robbery that occurred at Sunoco gas station, located at 1575 Route 112 in Port Jefferson Station, Oct. 7 at 9:45 a.m. During that incident, a man entered the store, displayed what appeared to be a gun and demanded cash. The clerk complied and the man fled. No one was injured.

The suspect, pictured above, is described as light-skinned black, 25 to 30 years old, 5 feet 10 inches to 6 feet tall with a medium build and a goatee.

Detectives are asking anyone with information about these incidents to call the 6th Squad at 631-854-8652 or anonymously to Crime Stoppers at 1-800-220-TIPS.

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Suffolk County Police Department 6th squad detectives are investigating a motor vehicle crash that killed a motorcyclist in Centereach Oct. 12.

George Kellerman, 58, of Centereach, was riding a 2003 Harley-Davidson motorcycle northbound on Horseblock Road when his motorcycle collided with a southbound 2004 Toyota that made an illegal U-turn on Horseblock Road at approximately 11 a.m.

Kellerman was transported to Stony Brook University Hospital where he was pronounced dead. The driver of the Toyota, Jose Diaz Benitez, and his 2-year-old son, who was in a car seat in the vehicle, were not injured.

Diaz Benitez, 39, of Centereach, was issued tickets for Unlicensed Operator and Improper U-Turn.

Both vehicles were impounded for safety checks. Detectives are asking anyone with information about this crash to call the 6th squad at 631-854-8652.

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The Suffolk County Police Department Property Section will hold a property auction Oct. 10 at 9:30 a.m. at the Property Section building, located next to Police Headquarters at 30 Yaphank Avenue in Yaphank.

Among the items being auctioned are hand and power tools, jewelry, a Dyson vacuum, automotive items, electronics, bicycles, clothing and accessories. Motor vehicles and motorcycles will not be sold at this auction.

A preview of select items will be held on Oct. 9 between 9:30 a.m. and 11:30 a.m. at the Property Section building.

The event will be held rain or shine and all items will be sold in “as is” condition. All purchases are subject to New York State sales tax and payments must be made in cash. In the event of severe weather, check the department’s website, www.suffolkpd.org or call 631-852-6685 for schedule changes.

Three young boys battling cancer have long been fascinated with police, and Sept. 19 they got the opportunity to immerse themselves in the lives of law enforcement officers.

Suffolk County Police Commissioner Geraldine Hart and Chief of Department Stuart Cameron swore in Zachary Cote, 9, and Jesse Pallas, 11, of Miller Place, and Sean Hughes, 10, from Port Jefferson as SCPD officers for the day during a surprise ceremony at police headquarters in Yaphank. Sean’s brother, Kyle, 8, also joined for the day’s events.

“It’s hard to put into words what our kids go through every day, but when we see a child smiling and this excited, its these things that will stick with them,” said Fariba Pallas, Jesse’s mother.

Each held up their hand as Hart asked them to repeat the words to be sworn in. Once she reached the end, she smiled and said, “Welcome to the department boys.” Already used to repeating what she said, they repeated her again, “Welcome to the department boys,” the young officers said in tandem.

“Just to see the smile on [Sean’s] face, he’s a very happy boy today.”

— Melanie Hughes

The swearing in was a surprise for both the kids and their parents. The adults thought their children would be meeting for a tour of the police department, but instead the kids got to join the ranks of the adults in blue.

Pallas said her son has been in the hospital for nearly half his life after being diagnosed with leukemia in 2011. She said being sworn in as an officer was a big moment for him.

Pallas asked her son who’s his superhero. “Police,” the young man shouted.

“He wants to be a police officer every Halloween,” she said.

The families originally met at an event hosted by the Thomas Scully Foundation in 2017, a nonprofit founded with the mission of brightening the lives of kids fighting cancer, and both the parents and kids bonded over their shared experiences. Melanie Hughes, Sean and Kyle’s mother, said that the kids did not have to talk to each other about their experiences, because they all know without having to say.

“It’s really sad to see kids go through what they have to go through to fight for their lives,” Hughes said. “Just to see the smile on [Sean’s] face, he’s a very happy boy today.”

The idea came about from county police Sergeant Patrick Kelly, who met the kids and their families during the annual Long Island 2-day Breast Cancer Walk in Shirley. The officer was so humbled by their enthusiasm for local police he decided to do whatever he could to make a special day for the kids, he said.

“Once the word got out everyone stepped up to the plate and wanted to be a part of this,” Kelly said. “These kids are unbelievable. They’ve gone through more in their lives than I could even imagine of going through.”

“These kids are unbelievable. They’ve gone through more in their lives than I could even imagine of going through.”

— Patrick Kelly

After the swearing in ceremony, the kids were taken outside to experience a number of police department activities, including working alongside detectives from the Identification Section; meeting with Emergency Service Section officers; and checking out Highway Patrol cars and a police helicopter. The Suffolk County K-9 unit brought out a number of their dogs for the kids to meet. Officer Brendan Gayer, a member of the K-9 unit, had quite a lot of experience with the kids, especially Jesse who has had a long standing passion for the dogs, collecting baseball cards with the names and pictures of the unit’s many hounds.

“I met Jesse years ago, and he approached me, and he was infatuated with my dog,” Gayer said. “He just loves them.”

At the end of the day, the kids were presented with a proclamation followed by a walk-out ceremony usually reserved for retiring high-ranking members of the department.

All three of the young cancer patients have long been enamored with the police department. Zachary’s father Glenn Cote said ever since his child was little he would make “awooga” sounds every time a police car passed by.

“As long as he’s been able to talk he’s looked up to the police department,” Cote said. “This is a really special day for him to be around a bunch of people that he wants to grow up to be.”

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Suffolk County Police Department 6th squad detectives are investigating an incident in which a man and woman were shot in Centereach and later died from the injuries.

The 6th Precinct officers responded to a 911 report of two injured people in a car on Washington Avenue at approximately 8 p.m. Sept. 11, according to police. When officers arrived they found the woman in the driver’s seat of a 2014 Kia Soul with a gunshot wound to the head and the man in the passenger’s seat with a gunshot wound to the head. A firearm was recovered inside the vehicle.

Police have identified Erick Horton, 48, of Coram, and Stacy Rountree, 48, of Coram, as the of the incident. Horton and Rountree have both died from their injuries following the shooting, according to police.

Detectives are asking anyone with information about the incident to call 631-854-8652.

This post was updated Sept. 14 following updates from the police on the victims’ status.

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This skiff belonging to Wen Zhong Wang, 37, of Ronkonkoma, was found empty in the Long Island Sound. Photo from SCPD

A man spent 45 minutes treading water in the Long Island Sound Sept. 4 after being knocked off his small boat by a wake, according to Suffolk County police. The man was rescued from the water after his unoccupied skiff was spotted floating in the Sound.

Marine Bureau officers Cory Kim and Gregory Stroh responded aboard Marine Delta after a fisherman reported finding an unoccupied skiff floating in the Long Island Sound at about 12 p.m. Tuesday, police said. While officers were responding to that call, a 911 caller reported a person yelling for help in the water off Old Field Road in Setauket.

Officers Kim and Stroh located the man, Wen Zhong Wang, 37, of Ronkonkoma, approximately 1/10 of a mile from shore. Wang, who was not wearing a life jacket, had been in the water approximately 45 minutes after he was knocked off his 9-foot skiff when it was hit by wake from a passing boat. Wang was transported to the Port Jefferson boat ramp where he was evaluated by Port Jefferson Ambulance personnel and released.

The fisherman towed the boat to shore where it was secured by the Port Jefferson Harbormaster.

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Pizza lovers hoping for a slice at one East Setauket restaurant had to go elsewhere this Labor Day weekend.

John Fornino, owner of Via Pizza & Pasta, said he was standing at the restaurant’s kitchen door at approximately 3:25 p.m. Sept. 1 when he heard an explosion of glass. He said his first reaction was to cover his head, when he looked up he saw an SUV stopped just short of the counter.

Fornino said the vehicle came through the window, and in addition to the window being shattered, the front wall was damaged. The SUV knocked over tables and chairs inside the pizzeria, but he said no one was inside or in front of the business.

According to the Suffolk County Police Department, the 71-year-old female driver was treated at the scene and did not need further medical attention. Fornino said he didn’t talk to the driver but he could see she was distraught.

Two Town of Brookhaven building inspectors and a fire marshal were on the scene shortly after the incident, according to Kevin Molloy, a town spokesman. While it was condemned during the Labor Day weekend, he said after a visit by a town fire marshal and inspector Sept. 4, the building was deemed safe for public use.

Updated Sept. 4 to include accounts from John Fornino.

Detectives are looking for Alejandro Vargas-Diaz, 36, who also goes by Alejandro deVargas-Diaz and Robin Vargas, who police have identified as a suspect in a July shooting in Port Jeff. Photos from SCPD
Detectives are looking for Alejandro Vargas-Diaz, 36, who police have identified as a suspect in a July shooting in Port Jeff. Photos from SCPD

A suspect has been identified in connection with the deadly shooting at a Port Jefferson billiards hall in July, and the police is looking for help from the public.

Suffolk County Crime Stoppers and Suffolk County Police Homicide Squad detectives are looking for Alejandro Vargas-Diaz, 36, who also goes by Alejandro deVargas-Diaz and Robin Vargas. He is the alleged shooter in a July 22 incident in which Albert Luis Rodriguez Lopez, 27 of Selden, was shot and killed at about 8:30 p.m. inside Billiards DBM, located at 1604 Main Street in upper Port Jeff Village, according to police. He has ties to Brooklyn, Queens, Paramus, New Jersey, Patterson, New Jersey and Hartford, Connecticut, police said.

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.

File photo by Victoria Espinoza

The late summer extreme heat wave likely contributed to the death of an 11-year-old girl in Coram Aug. 28.

Suffolk County Police Homicide detectives are investigating the death of the girl who was found unresponsive in a vehicle on Kathleen Crescent in Coram Tuesday at about 3:45 p.m., police said.

The girl’s mother had been running errands with the 11-year-old and two other children, according to police. After returning home, the girl’s mother went inside believing all of the children were out of the car. Sometime later, the mother could not locate the 11-year-old girl and checked inside of the car where she found the girl. The mother carried her inside the house and called 911.

The girl’s mother began CPR. Police arrived in less than two minutes. Police and rescue personnel from Coram Rescue continued CPR and transported the girl to Stony Brook University Hospital where she was pronounced dead.

A Suffolk County Police Department boat. File photo by Alex Petroski

An overturned kayak in the Long Island Sound required emergency rescue services from the Suffolk County Police Department Aug. 23.

The Suffolk County Police Department received a 911 call regarding a man who was in distress after his kayak overturned in the Long Island Sound, approximately two miles north of the Shoreham Nuclear Power Plant at 11:52 a.m. Thursday, according to police. Aviation Section Officers John Carey and Richard Davin responded in the police helicopter, located the kayaker and guided Marine Bureau Officers Steven Tarolli and Christopher Erickson, who were onboard Marine Delta, to the victim. Officers Tarolli and Erickson were able to pull the victim onto the boat. The Wading River Fire Department and Town of Brookhaven Bay Constable assisted in the rescue.

The victim, Andrew Punella, 61, of Queens, was transported by the Wading River Fire Department to Peconic Bay Medical Center in Riverhead for treatment of hypothermia.

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