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Following the story in Huntington Station

NEWS UPDATE: Suffolk County Police have arrested two men for shooting a man at the Huntington Station LIRR Commuter parking lot on April 23.

Following an investigation, Second Squad detectives charged Jonattan Canales, and his step-brother Cesar Moncada with Assault 1st Degree for the shooting.

 Canales, 18, and Moncada, 19, both of 19 Tower St., Huntington Station, are being held at the Second Precinct in Huntington Station. Both are scheduled to be arraigned at First District Court in Central Islip on May 5.

“Yond Cassius over there has a lean and hungry look. He thinks too much. Men like him are dangerous.”

Julius Caesar; Act 1 Scene 2

An innocuous episode involving an apparent homeless person on New York Avenue in Huntington Station prompted us to become inquisitive about the degradation of the quality of life in this once-delightfully bucolic community. We found an unsettling assortment of incidents.

Yesterday, April 27, Suffolk County Police Hate Crimes Unit detectives arrested Roberto Pantoja 31, of 14 East Fourth Street and charged him with two counts of Burglary 2nd Degree as a Hate Crime for allegedly breaking into the Convent at St. Hugh of Lincoln Roman Catholic Church, 27 East Ninth Street, on March 7 and March 26. Pantoja, who allegedly stole property and cash belonging to the nuns, is being held at the Seventh Precinct and was scheduled to be arraigned this morning at First District Court in Central Islip. According to TOH records, 14 East Fourth Street is a single family residence owned by absentee landlord KIDCO LP a Northport company whose registered agent is real estate investor Donald Pius.

Early Monday morning, at approximately 1:30 AM, SCPD officers responded to a SpotSpotter activation. Five men who were standing in front of 62 10th Avenue reported hearing shots and seeing flashes of light but did not witness anyone firing a gun. 40 caliber spent shell casings were recovered at the scene.  That bullet is fired by a sizeable weapon which, until 2014, was the FBI’s side arm for its agents.

Over the weekend, on Saturday, at approximately 10:15 PM, Jose Campos, 53, and a friend were standing in the driveway of a residence located at 24 East 6th Street when shots were fired in the direction of the home. Several bullets struck the house and other bullets hit a vehicle that was in the driveway of the adjacent house. An eight-year-old child who was sleeping in the back seat of the vehicle at the time of the incident, was not injured.

A few hours earlier on the same day, at approximately 8:00PM, Jose Jurado, 20, was shot in the foot by a man who stepped out of a vehicle and fired at him in the LIRR commuter parking lot. Jurado made his way to a local 7-Eleven on New York Avenue where someone called 911. He was transported by ambulance to Nassau University Medical Center in East Meadow and was listed in stable condition.

Last Thursday, Second Squad Detectives Special Operations Team, working with officers from the Second Precinct Gang Unit, executed a search warrant at 2036 New York Avenue and arrested two residents, Kevin O’Neil, 27, and Diana Thode, 23. Oxycodone pills, cell phones and $871 were seized. TOH records indicate that the building is owned by absentee landlord “2036 New York Avenue Corp”, a Woodbury (NY), company. O’Neil was charged with Criminal Possession of a Controlled Substance 4th Degree and Criminal Possession of a Controlled Substance 3rd Degree. Thode was charged with a bench warrant.

And last Sunday, April 17 at approximately 10:30PM, Jose Gaitan, 48, of 62 East 9th Street was arrested for DWI after striking and killing Lucas Reyes, 31, also of Huntington Station. At the time of the accident at Depot Road near East 12th Street, Gaitan was operating a 1999 Nissan Maxima southbound and struck Reyes who was attempting to run across the road. Reyes was transported by Suffolk County Police helicopter to Stony Brook University Hospital where he was pronounced dead.

Gaitan was arrested and charged with Driving While Intoxicated. He was being held at the Third Precinct and was scheduled to be arraigned on April 18 at First District Court in Central Islip.

TOH records report that 62 East 9th Street is a single family residence owned by Mauricio and Jenny Vasquez of the same address.

On Thursday, March 24 at 5:10 AM SCPD patrol officers arrested a man today who committed five commercial burglaries during the month in Huntington Station. Officers Michael Buscarino and Vincent Dilluvio were on patrol when they noticed a man drinking an open container of alcohol in front of 1720 New York Avenue. The suspect gave a false name and the officers transported to the Second Precinct. Further investigation by Second Squad detectives, revealed that the suspect, Jose Benitez, was responsible for five commercial burglaries that occurred between March 17 and March 23. They included:

  • March 23 at approximately 4 a.m. – Promesas Christian Book Store, located at New York Ave., Huntington Station
  • March 23 at approximately 3:30 a.m. – Checkers, located at 1680 New York Ave., Huntington Station
  • Between March 20 at 7 p.m. and March 21- at 8 a.m. – Variedades Belen, located at 1671 New York Ave., Huntington Station
  • March 21, at approximately 4:55 a.m. – Sunny’s Discount, located at 1345 New York Ave., Huntington Station
  • March 17, at approximately 4 a.m. – Best for Less, located at 1711 New York Ave., Huntington Station

Benitez, 34, of 59 East 6th Street, was charged with five counts of Burglary 3rd Degree, False Personation, a bench warrant, and was issued a summons for Open Alcoholic Beverage. He was arraigned at First District Court in Central Islip on March 25 and was remanded to the Suffolk County Jail. Huntington records indicate that 59 East 6th Street is a single family residence owned and occupied by Amadeo Villatoro.

VT writers sent six requests for more information about Gaitan to the Suffolk County District Attorney’s office seeking information about his referral to ICE (if applicable) and the name of his attorney or public defender. The DA’s office has failed to respond to each inquiry.

On Friday, February 5, approximately 3:30PM, SCPD officers arrested Scott Lundquist, 59, of 14 W. 14th Street for a burglary he committed at a residence in Huntington Station in October, 2015. At the time of the incident, it was reported that an unknown male unlawfully entered a residence in Huntington Station on October 3, 2015 at approximately 7:40 p.m. The man was discovered by a homeowner who was inside. A struggle ensued and the intruder stated he had a handgun, before fleeing the scene.

Following an investigation by Second Squad detectives, DNA evidence linked Lundquist to the crime. He was charged with Burglary 1st Degree, Assault 3rd Degree, and Resisting Arrest. He was arraigned at First District Court in Central Islip on February 6. TOH records show that 14 West 14th Street is owned and occupied by Dennis C. Moltalto. The property has a permit for a legal accessory apartment.

In a recent statement, Police Commissioner Timothy D. Sini said that “We will be increasing presence of officers on bikes, cars and FAST suppression methods. Police will utilize community intervention strategies.” Commissioner Sini asked that anyone who may have witnessed the shootings or have information should call Crime Stoppers at 1-800-220-TIPS.

SCPD always advises that a criminal charge is an accusation. A defendant is presumed innocent until and unless proven guilty.

But assertive policing can only be effective if the officers are supported on the local level by a Town Administration that is insistent about the application of its housing laws.

The alleged perpetrators in four of the six incidents we have reported live in residents with absentee landlords or in buildings that are supposedly occupied solely by the property owner. Of course, it’s possible that the homeowners have a relative living with them. One of the alleged wrongdoers resides in a building with a legal accessory apartment permit. We could not verify the residential address of shooting victim Jose Jurado. His privacy is protected by law.

With a short drive down many of the streets in Huntington Station it’s easy to spot buildings that exhibit the classic signs of more than one tenant. Dual mail boxes or electric meters; multiple satellite dishes; a plethora of cars on the property; numerous building entrances; second floor kitchen appliances visible from the street; all indicate that something might be amiss. If you and I can see them; why can’t the Town’s Code Enforcement Department? And why are they making it more difficult for you to report these sites?

Within the next few months, you will be required to register in order to use the Town’s on-line services–including the ability to report a possible violation of the Town’s building code.

Here’s their advisory . . . . . .

Huntington@YourService is transitioning to a required user password and log in system later this year. Creating an account now at your convenience will save you time and bother when the changeover happens. This will allow you to check the status of your requests 24/7/365 and allow us to serve you better and faster.   – See more at: http://www.huntingtonny.gov/content/13749/13859/34984.aspx?SRTID=597#sthash.9bz8uJXk.dpuf

Returning Huntington Station to its countrified past is a daunting task; perhaps impossible. But allowing Huntington Station to tolerate further community degradation is simply an unacceptable alternative.

 

 

 

 

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