Police & Fire

Setauket firefighters get set with a ladder to approach the second floor dormitory fire area as soon as interior firefighters put water on the fire to extinguish flames. Photo from SFD/R. O'Rourk

A serious dormitory blaze at Stony Brook University has Brookhaven Town’s supervisor calling for fire safety reforms.

The fire broke out on Saturday, Nov. 21, in a student’s room on the second floor of O’Neill College — one of four residential buildings in Mendelsohn Quad — forcing about 115 students to relocate to temporary housing, the university said in a statement.

Setauket Fire Department responded to the call and received mutual aid from Stony Brook, St. James and Port Jefferson departments, but officials soon discovered that they had to carry hoses up to the second floor because there were no standpipes there to connect to due to the building’s decades-old architecture, the Setauket Fire Department said in a statement.

While the flames were eventually tamed, the incident still sparked Brookhaven Supervisor Ed Romaine (R) to call on the university to upgrade its fire protection systems and to contribute to the cost of fire protection.

The fire is extinguished but a clean-up of debris from the room continues to ensure no hidden flames exist. Photo from SFD/R. O'Rourk
The fire is extinguished but a clean-up of debris from the room continues to ensure no hidden flames exist. Photo from SFD/R. O’Rourk

In a statement provided to Times Beacon Record Newspapers, Romaine said that O’Neill College was built more than five decades ago and was outfitted with a fire alarm system that only warns of a fire, without a sprinkler system to combat it. He said the university lacked necessary fire-prevention measures, like a standpipe system in the building, to allow firefighters to access water for their hoses.

Romaine also noted that the most recently built dormitories at SBU include fire alarms and sprinkler systems, which he said would have prevented the size and magnitude of the fire at O’Neill.

“Two lessons emerge from this fire,” Romaine said. “First, Stony Brook University needs to upgrade the system in the dormitories that lack these essential fire protection systems. Second, New York State and the university should contribute to the cost of fire protection; it should not be borne by the taxpayers of Stony Brook and Setauket Fire Districts alone.”

A spokesman for the Setauket Fire Department said the cause of the fire was still under investigation and there were no reported injuries.

The SBU campus resides within the Setauket, Stony Brook and St. James fire districts, the university’s environmental health and safety department said.

Lauren Sheprow, a spokeswoman for Stony Brook University, said the university was operating in full compliance with state building code requirements and that all campus residence halls were equipped with “state-of-the-art fire alarm systems that are monitored 24/7 at university police headquarters.”

Over recent years, Sheprow said, SBU has taken administrative, engineering and educational steps to reduce fire alarms, minimize the impact on nearby fire departments and facilitate its own emergency response.

“At Stony Brook, student safety is a top priority and we take that responsibility very seriously,” she said in a statement. “The university has implemented numerous initiatives over the years to enhance fire safety and prevention and to reduce unnecessary response by community fire departments to the campus. The university has a great deal of respect for the community volunteers who dedicate their time to fire emergencies — in fact many of these volunteers work at Stony Brook University — and we are grateful for the swift response in November.”

The university’s most recent annual fire report and statistics reported eight fires throughout 2014, across all on-campus residence halls, resulting in a total of $20 worth of property damage. Most of the incidents were reported as grease fires, and none of the eight occurred at O’Neill College, where the most recent reported incident before this dated back to two trash can fires in 2013.

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Richard Clinton mugshot from SCPD

A robbery suspect allegedly ripped a woman out of her car while she was stopped at a traffic light Tuesday morning.

According to the Suffolk County Police Department, the woman was driving to work and had exited the Long Island Expressway at exit 56 shortly before 9 a.m. She was waiting at a red light at the north service road’s intersection with Route 111 in Hauppauge when a man who was walking in the roadway opened the car’s front passenger door and got inside. Police said the woman tried to fight off the robber as he stole her belongings.

From there, police allege the man got out of the car, walked around to the driver’s side, opened the door, forcibly removed the victim from the car and dragged her onto the pavement. He allegedly got into the driver’s seat and took more of her property, as she again fought him.

Police said the suspect ran away as other people started to approach the car to aid the victim.

Officers searched the area and broadcasted a description of the suspect, police said, and about 10 minutes later found suspect Richard Clinton a short distance away, at Route 111 and Motor Parkway.

Clinton, a 34-year-old whose last known address was in Medford, was arrested and treated at Southside Hospital in Bay Shore “for the effects of narcotic drug use,” police said. He is charged with second-degree robbery, resisting arrest and three counts of seventh-degree criminal possession of a controlled substance.

Attorney information for the suspect was not available. According to police, Clinton will be arraigned at a later date.

Anyone who may have witnessed the alleged robbery is asked to contact detectives from the SCPD’s 4th Squad at 631-854-8452.

File photo

Police are hunting for an armed robbery suspect after a man was shot in the leg in an incident on Monday night.

A male suspect in a mask, who was carrying a gun, allegedly approached a gas pump attendant at the USA station on New York Avenue in Huntington Station that night, according to the Suffolk County Police Department. The assailant demanded cash.

Police said a “confrontation ensued” and the suspect fired a shot that hit the attendant in the leg, after which the robber fled on foot — with the cash.

The victim’s injury was treated at Huntington Hospital.

Detectives from the SCPD’s 2nd Squad are investigating the armed robbery, which occurred a little before 10 p.m., and police said they are searching for a 6-foot black male with a thin build.

Anyone with information is asked to call detectives at 631-854-8252, or to call Crime Stoppers anonymously at 1-800-220-TIPS.

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The entrance to Blydenburgh County Park is in Smithtown. File photo

A man trying to rescue his dog from a freezing lake on Saturday morning needed a rescue himself, after falling into chest-deep water, according to police.

The 56-year-old Brooklyn resident was going after Dena the dog, who had gotten loose during a walk and ran onto a frozen lake at Blydenburgh County Park in Smithtown, the Suffolk County Police Department said. While going after the canine, he fell into the lake himself.

Park rangers as well as officers from the SCPD’s 4th Precinct, Emergency Service Section, Aviation Section and Marine Bureau responded to the park, on Veterans Memorial Highway. Police said Michael Coscia from the Emergency Service Section put on a water rescue suit and crawled onto the ice, while tethered to a rope officers Michael Simpson and Robert Stahl were holding.

After the man was in the water for about 25 minutes, Stahl, Simpson and Sgt. Michael Homan pulled both him and Coscia from the water, police said. The dog walked off the ice.

Police said the Brooklyn man was treated for hypothermia at Stony Brook University Hospital.

Port Jefferson code Chief Wally Tomaszewski. File photo by Elana Glowatz

Code enforcement officers in Port Jefferson will get a raise for the first time in several years if they approve their first union contract next week.

At the Jan. 4 village board of trustees meeting, the board approved the new agreement, settled upon a couple of years after negotiations began. The Port Jefferson Constable Association union must still ratify the contract to finalize it.

The new agreement would be retroactive to June 2014 and run through the end of May 2018, Trustee Bruce D’Abramo said in a phone interview. With part of the contract being retroactive, so is part of the proposed pay increase — the union members would receive an extra $1.50 for each hour they worked between June 2014 and the end of May 2015; and another $1.75 per hour worked from June 2015 and onward.

Moving forward, the officers from the Code Enforcement Bureau would receive an hourly bump of $0.25 each new year of the contract, meaning they would get a raise in June 2016 and June 2017.

The few dozen staff members covered under the proposal includes code enforcement officers and sergeants as well as appearance ticket officers, D’Abramo said. The union does not include code Chief Wally Tomaszewski or three lieutenants in the bureau.

According to both village officials and the union, it has been a while since the officers received a raise.

Port Jefferson Constable Association President Tom Grimaldi has been a code officer for more than seven years, he said, and the last salary increase was “way before I got there. Probably at least 10 years ago.”

D’Abramo noted that before the proposed raises kick in, the pay for code enforcement officers is $16 per hour. For sergeants, the pay is $18.25 per hour, and appearance ticket officers currently get $13.50 per hour.

The contract is “a long time coming,” Grimaldi said.

And D’Abramo said village officials are happy to put the negotiations behind them so they can finally “give the code officers, who do such a good job for the village, the kind of remuneration” that is comparable to such officers in other villages.

The constables have been particularly visible recently with some high-profile incidents in Port Jefferson Village.

In mid-December, a Belle Terre man was killed when he lost control of his Lamborghini while driving up a steep East Broadway hill and crashed into a pole near High Street. Officer Paul Barbato was the first on the scene, finding a “horribly mangled vehicle with a person still alive inside,” Trustee Larry LaPointe reported at a board meeting shortly after the crash. Barbato got inside the car and attempted CPR on 48-year-old Glen Nelson, but the driver later died.

“You can only imagine the scene he came upon,” Mayor Margot Garant said on Jan. 4.

In a phone interview, Tomaszewski said Barbato “tried desperately to save his life. Believe me, his boots were filled with blood.”

Code enforcement officer James Murdocco. File photo by Elana Glowatz
Code enforcement officer James Murdocco. File photo by Elana Glowatz

A couple of weeks later, on New Year’s Day, patrolling code officers James Murdocco and John Vinicombe responded to an overdose at the Islandwide Taxi stand near the Port Jefferson Long Island Rail Road station.

LaPointe said at the board meeting on Jan. 4 that Murdocco administered the anti-overdose medication Narcan and “saved the person’s life by doing so.”

Tomaszewski described another recent incident in which officer Gina Savoie “thwarted a burglary” on Crystal Brook Hollow Road. He said after Savoie took action and called for police assistance, the two suspects, who are from Coram, were arrested for loitering.

“My hat goes off to the code enforcement bureau,” Garant said at the most recent board meeting. “They’re out there handling things that are unimaginable for us to even contemplate.”

Fire in the hole
A 21-year-old man from Deer Park was arrested on Jan. 2 at 3:30 a.m. after police said he hit a fire hydrant while driving a 2001 Nissan Altima on Commack Road in Dix Hills and fled the scene. He was charged with operating a motor vehicle and leaving the scene with property damage.

He’ll be watching you
Police said a 39-year-old man from West Babylon was sending threatening and stalking emails to someone on West Hills Road in West Hills. He was arrested at the 2nd Precinct on Dec. 29 and charged with fourth-degree stalking at employment.

Crazy stuff on Asylum Avenue
On Jan. 2, a 23-year-old man from Coram was arrested after police said he had marijuana in plain view while sitting in a 2005 Cadillac on Asylum Avenue in Huntington just after 7 p.m. He was charged with third-degree criminal possession of marijuana.

Catching up on some z’s
Police said a 31-year-old man from Harlem was asleep at the wheel in a 2014 Chevy Suburban with the engine running in the HOV lane on the Long Island Expressway at 6:20 a.m. on Jan. 1. He was arrested for driving while intoxicated and resisting arrest after refusing to put his hands behind his back.

Story not checking out
A 25-year-old woman from Bay Shore was arrested on Dec. 31 at 5 p.m. at the 2nd Precinct for multiple incidents of forging checks. She was charged with four counts of second-degree possession of forged instruments for using forged checks at multiple Chase banks in Commack, North Babylon and Bay Shore from September through December.

High times
On Dec. 31, a 23-year-old woman from Nesconset was arrested after police said she had suboxone in her possession at 2 p.m. on New York Avenue in Huntington. She was charged with seventh-degree criminal possession of a controlled substance.

A 53-year-old man from Melville was arrested on Dec. 27 after police said he drove on a driveway and front lawn of a residence on Route 25A in Huntington and caused damage. He was charged with criminal mischief with intent to damage property.

Sneaking some sneaks
On Dec. 26, a 25-year-old man from Central Islip was arrested after police said he stole Macy’s gift cards and three pairs of sneakers from Macy’s on Walt Whitman Road in Huntington at noon.

Hit and run
A 17-year-old woman from Commack was arrested on Jan. 3 at 5:20 a.m. after police said she hit a pedestrian while driving a 2011 Nissan on Piave Terrace in Lindenhurst. She was charged with leaving the scene of an accident and first-degree failure to show license or identification.

Razor sharp senses
Police said an unknown person stole razors from a CVS on Main Street in Smithtown on Jan. 2 at 8:20 p.m.

Cocaine bust
On Jan. 2 a 34-year-old man from Patchogue was arrested at 4:15 p.m. after police stopped him on Morewood Drive in Commack for a bench warrant and then discovered he had cocaine in his possession. He was charged with seventh-degree criminal possession of a controlled substance.

Charged for cards
Police said a 20-year-old man from Commack stole gift cards from Best Buy in Commack over a two-month period. He was arrested on Dec. 31 at 9 p.m. and charged with petit larceny.

Not just the remote is lost
On Dec. 29 a 22-year-old man from Dix Hills was arrested after police said he stole a television from Walmart on Crooked Hill Road in Commack at 12:20 p.m. He was charged with petit larceny.

Someone else’s plastic
A 29-year-old man from Smithtown was arrested on Dec. 31 after police said he made purchases on a stolen credit card. He was arrested at 11 p.m. at the 4th Precinct and charged with fourth-degree criminal possession of a credit card.

To the point
Police said a 25-year-old man from Ronkonkoma was arrested for being in possession of a hypodermic needle inside a 2001 Nissan at 11:20 a.m. on Dec. 30. He was charged with possession of a hypodermic instrument.

Lights out
A 47-year-old man from Commack was arrested on Dec. 25 and charged with first-degree operating a motor vehicle while impaired by drugs. Police said he was driving a 2002 Ford pickup truck on Joyce Lane at 3 a.m. when they pulled him over for having a light out and then discovered he was driving while on drugs.

Can’t phone home
Police said two cell phones were stolen from Walmart on Crooked Hill Road in Commack on Jan. 3 shortly after noon.

On Jan. 2 a 22-year-old woman from Holbrook was arrested on Route 25 in Smithtown at 3 a.m. after police said she was speeding in a 2005 Pontiac and then discovered she was driving while on drugs. She was charged with first-degree operating a motor vehicle while impaired by drugs.

Not quite on target
A 28-year-old woman from Wyandanch was arrested on Jan. 3 at noon for stealing assorted merchandise from Target on Veterans Memorial Highway in Smithtown. She was charged with petit larceny.

Drifting to jail
On Dec. 29, an East Setauket resident was driving a 2006 Jeep west on Route 347 in Port Jefferson Station when he failed to maintain his lane. Police discovered the man was intoxicated and arrested him on the corner of Route 347 and Jayne Boulevard. The 33-year-old was charged with driving while ability impaired. He was previously convicted on similar charges 10 years ago.

Quest for the card thief
A 29-year-old man from Coram was arrested for grand larceny on Dec. 27, after he stole a credit card from an unlocked 2010 Chevrolet. The incident took place on Piedmont Drive in Port Jefferson Station, but police arrested the man on Montclair Street.

Drive away home
Police arrested a 21-year-old Port Jefferson woman on Jan. 2 for unauthorized use of a car. Police said she took a 2003 Lincoln Navigator out of a shared driveway around 4:04 a.m. and was arrested later that day at her Laurita Gate home.

Gimme a break
A man from Miller Place was arrested for criminal mischief on Dec. 29, after police said the 40-year-old broke a glass window to enter a residence on Woodhull Landing Road in Miller Place around 11:25 a.m. The man also allegedly gave the wrong name to officials just prior to his arrest.

Wantagh go to jail
Police arrested a Wantagh man on Jan. 1 for driving while ability impaired in a 2012 Nissan after he got into a crash while going south on Howell Avenue in Centereach. Officials discovered the 28-year-old was intoxicated. Police arrested him at 3:39 a.m., less than 30 minutes after the crash.

Boozy breakfast
On Jan. 1, police arrested a 26-year-old woman from Centereach for driving while ability impaired. Around 8:48 a.m., the woman was driving a 2006 Nissan when she got into a crash near the Sunoco station on Middle Country Road. Police at the scene discovered the woman was intoxicated and arrested her.

An early morning stroll
Police said an 18-year-old Selden man was shouting obscenities on Jan. 1 before trespassing at the 7-Eleven on Middle Country Road in Selden. Police arrested the man for trespassing at the scene.

On Jan. 1 at 3:30 a.m., a resident living on Christian Avenue in Stony Brook was throwing a party when several unknown, uninvited guests struck and broke the glass front door and window of the home. Police didn’t specify what they used to cause the damage.

Pound it
Police arrested a 23-year-old man from Port Jefferson Station for criminal possession of a weapon at the Centereach Mall on Jan. 1, after they found him in possession of brass knuckles.

King of the road
On Jan. 2, a 52-year-old man from Rocky Point was arrested for driving while ability impaired. According to police, the man was speeding in a 1995 GMC north on Kings Walk and failed to stay to the right on the road.

Stopped and seized
A 20-year-old man from Sound Beach was arrested on Jan. 1 for criminal possession of a controlled substance. Police had made a traffic stop on Madison Street in Rocky Point and discovered the man was in possession of drugs. Police didn’t specify why the man was originally stopped.

The same old steal
On Jan. 2, someone entered the Old Fields Restaurant on Wynn Lane in Port Jefferson and stole an iPod and license from the business.

Toy troubles
According to police, someone entered the Kohl’s in Setauket-East Setauket and concealed a toy set in their bag. The incident happened on Dec. 30 at 9:54 p.m.

Food for the winter
An unidentified person took groceries from a store on Nesconset Highway in Mount Sinai on Dec. 29.

On the fence
On Dec. 28, a resident living on Kingston Road in Mount Sinai reported that someone damaged the house’s PVC fence and fence posts between 11 and 11:20 a.m.

Pumped for pickpocketing
An unknown person broke the passenger window of a 2005 Jeep parked in the LA Fitness parking lot in Port Jefferson Station. Police said a wallet was stolen. The incident happened on Dec. 31 around 6 p.m.

Finance this
Police said an unknown person broke a window at Soloway Agency on Nesconset Highway in Port Jefferson Station on Jan. 1, at 4:25 a.m.

Beauty knows no bounds
On Jan. 2, someone took body spray and hair products from the Walgreens on Middle Country Road in Selden.

New law requires all smoke alarms sold in New York to operate on batteries that function for a decade

State Sen. John Flanagan. File photo

This time, the batteries are included.

State legislation aiming to address fire safety for New York families was signed into law this week, requiring every smoke alarm sold be equipped with a nonremovable, nonreplaceable battery that powers the device for a minimum of 10 years. State Sen. John Flanagan (R-East Northport) heralded the new law he sponsored as a protective measure against house fires.

In a statement, the senator said the law would help ensure that smoke alarms are operational for a longer period of time and hopefully save lives. Since smoke alarms were first mandated in the state back in 1961, Flanagan said that deaths due to fire have been cut in half, but most deaths due to fire today happen in homes with either no smoke alarm or a nonfunctioning one. Under the new law, Flanagan said, homeowners can be protected from dangerous fires for a longer period of time without constant maintenance.

“Too many families in our state have suffered the loss of a loved one due to a fire emergency, and this new law is aimed at protecting New Yorkers from this pain,” Flanagan said. “The data is crystal clear in how essential smoke detectors are in saving lives.”

Over the operational life of the average smoke alarm, the new law could also potentially save homeowners money by eliminating the need for replacement batteries every six months, Flanagan said. After the 10-year operational time period of the device, a new smoke alarm device would need to be purchased as a replacement.

Firemen’s Association of the State of New York President Robert McConville said lawmakers, including Flanagan, have taken big steps to keep New York families safe.

“We would like to thank State Sen. John Flanagan for his leadership on this critical issue. Simply put, his efforts in passing this legislation will help save lives in New York State,” he said. “We’ve seen time and again that working smoke alarms can be the difference between life and death. Together, State Sen. Flanagan, Assemblyman Joseph Morelle (D-Irondequoit), and N.Y. Governor Andrew Cuomo (D) have succeeded in making New York a safer place to live.”

The new law will go into effect in April 2019, once an agreed-upon chapter amendment between the Governor, the Senate and the Assembly is approved.

It will not apply to devices which have been ordered or that are in inventory when the law goes into effect. It will not impact devices that are powered through electrical systems, fire alarm systems with smoke alarms, fire alarm devices that connect to a panel or other devices with low-power radio frequency wireless communication signal.

Additionally, the upcoming amendment will provide the state fire administrator, through its regulatory process, the ability to designate other devices that are exempt from the legislation.

“It is critical that all homeowners who do purchase these devices in our state are able to trust them for a full decade,” Flanagan said. “The goal is to help New Yorkers protect their homes and their families, and this legislation is a great step in that effort.”

Suffolk County police car. File photo

Two drivers have been charged with driving while impaired after an early Sunday morning crash that sent both of them to the hospital.

The allegedly drunken drivers collided on Smithtown Avenue in Ronkonkoma at about 3 a.m. According to the Suffolk County Police Department, 22-year-old Bohemia resident Thomas Boyer, who had been driving south on the road, crossed into the northbound lane in his 1997 Toyota and struck a 2001 Dodge.

Boyer was charged with driving while impaired by drugs and alcohol, police said, while the driver of the Dodge, 46-year-old Selden resident Timothy Miller, was charged with driving while intoxicated.

Police said both men were treated for serious, but non-life-threatening, injuries at Stony Brook University Hospital after the crash, which occurred between Marconi Avenue and Lakeland Avenue, adjacent to MacArthur Airport. They were to be arraigned at a later date.

Police impounded both the Toyota and the Dodge. The 5th Squad is investigating the two-car crash.

Anyone with information is asked to contact the squad at 631-854-8552.

Christopher Elgut photo from SCPD

A Huntington man was allegedly inappropriate with an 8-year-old who was visiting the library with her mother on Sunday.

The Suffolk County Police Department said Christopher Elgut picked up the little girl, who was standing behind her mom at the Huntington Public Library counter, and put her down behind a column, then touched her inappropriately.

The girl screamed, police said, prompting Elgut to flee on foot.

Police broadcasted a description of the suspect after the 4:30 p.m. incident, and patrol officers from the 2nd Precinct located Elgut about 20 minutes later not far from the library.

Elgut, 28, was charged with first-degree sex abuse, endangering the welfare of a child and criminal possession of marijuana.

Attorney information for the suspect was not immediately available. He was scheduled to be arraigned on Monday.

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Photo of Cody Lee Miller from SCPD

Update: Police reported on the evening of Dec. 30 that Cody Lee Miller had been located and was unharmed.

A Northport man’s family has not seen him since the day before Christmas Eve and is looking for the public’s help to find him.

The Suffolk County Police Department said on Wednesday that the family last saw 24-year-old Cody Lee Miller at his house at 8 a.m. on Dec. 23 with a black, oversized backpack.

Photo of Cody Lee Miller from SCPD

According to the family’s Facebook page “Help find Cody,” the young man left abruptly. “No argument before he left, nothing of that nature.” It’s possible he has a toiletries and a change of clothes with him, the page said, but he didn’t bring a sleeping bag or any technological items with him.

“He did not mention any part of leaving to any friends/family member,” the page said. “We have no explanations for his leaving, are unable to track him, and need your help to find him.”

The family reported him missing last week.

Miller is white, 6 feet 1 inch tall and about 145 pounds, according to the SCPD. He has dark blonde hair and hazel eyes, and was last seen in blue jeans, a black hoodie and black sneakers.

Police said the family believes he could still be on Long Island but might have gone into New York City.

Anyone with information about the young man’s whereabouts is asked to dial 911 or to call detectives from the SCPD’s 4th Squad, who are investigating the missing person case, at 631-854-8452.