Jan. 16, 2018 By Nathaly Pesantez
The NYPD is searching for a man who allegedly punched a 29-year-old outside a Queens Boulevard hotel currently housing the homeless, and who is purported to be a resident of the shelter.
The 108th Precinct tweeted a flyer this morning of a male suspect wanted in regards to an assault in front of the Quality Inn, the hotel located at 53-05 Queens Blvd. that has been providing shelter for homeless families since the summer of 2016.
Police say the incident happened on Nov. 18 at around 6:50 p.m., when the 29-year-old victim and the suspect got into a verbal dispute outside the locale. The suspect then punched the victim in the face during the dispute, which caused pain and swelling to the victim’s face, an NYPD spokesperson said.
The suspect then fled on foot in an unknown direction, the spokesperson said.
The wanted flyer comes one day after the Daily News published a report detailing that the suspect is actually a resident of the Quality Inn homeless shelter, and that the NYPD closed their investigation into the incident in one day.
The 29-year-old victim told the newspaper that he is an employee at the auto shop next to the shelter, and saw the suspect come out of the hotel.
“A laundry van for the hotel was blocking my driveway and I was honking the horn,” the victim told the Daily News. “A guy comes out of the hotel with a friend and starts threatening me. He said, ‘I’m gonna knock you out, cracker!’ Then he punched me in the temple.”
The Daily News wrote that police closed the investigation into the incident even after they were provided with a photograph of the alleged assailant and a video of the assault. The initial police report also incorrectly said that the victim refused to give contact information, and that there were no witnesses to the event, despite the victim’s mother being an eyewitness.
Bill Kregler, an active community member and former police officer, was instrumental in helping open the case back up, going as far as taking the victim and his mother to the precinct and filing appeals to obtain police reports on the incident. “This gentleman came to me and said its not being handled properly,” Kregler told the Sunnyside Post.
Kregler added that the 29-year-old’s injuries after the incident warranted a follow up by detectives. “He was never interviewed by detectives,” Kreglar said. “That’s against procedures.”
While the 108th Precinct has since reopened the case on the November incident, and said the case was accidentally closed due to an administrative error, Kregler believes that the precinct acted as “a sacrificial lamb” for the mayor, who has received much criticism for his administration’s trend of temporarily housing the homeless in city hotels with short community notice.
“Someone is falling on the sword for the mayor,” Kregler said. “This is coming from City Hall—to keep things quiet.”
He added: “The 108th Precinct is doing their very best through unwritten policies to keep everything quiet at these places. But their hands are tied.”
Anyone with information regarding the suspect is asked to contact Detective Michael Grimm at 718-784-5441 or Detective Borough Queens North at 718-520-9200.