Columbia Street Cop Shooter Sentenced to 28 Years-Life

A 27-year old man was sentenced today to 28 years to life in prison for shooting a cop on the Lower East Side two years ago.  The incident happened on Columbia street, near the Baruch Houses, shortly after two officers approached Luis Martinez for suspected drug dealing.

The cop, Thomas Richards, was saved when the bullet struck his metal gun magazine.  In January, a Manhattan jury convicted Martinez of attempted murder and weapons possession charges.  During the trial and again today, defense attorney Matthew Myers said his client believed the officers were trying to rob them, and he didn’t think they were cops. According to the Daily News, he told the judge, Martinez has “not one single conviction and this court needs to respect the fact that my client had no record going into this case.”  The judge, however, was unmoved. State Supreme Court Justice Michael Obus said, “it began when Mr. Martinez took the gun that he purchased and put it on his person and left his home.”

In a statement, District Attorney Cy Vance said, “If not for the metal gun magazine and leather pouch that prevented the bullet from piercing Officer Thomas Richards’s abdomen, he might not be alive today. There is no clearer example of how New York’s Finest place their lives on the line every day to keep us safe. I thank the jury for their service and for seeing that justice was done in this case.”



Teen Arrested in Raphael Ward Murder; Fight Breaks Out at Funeral Home

Raphael Ward; photo via Facebook.

There was some news last night from the 7th Precinct’s Community Council meeting.  Captain Peter Venice announced one arrest had been made in connection with the murder of 16-year old Raphael Ward on Columbia Street six days ago.  This morning the Post is reporting the name of the suspect in custody. He is Timothy Montalvo, also 16-years old.

According to the Post, Montalvo is one of four teens seen on surveillance video shortly before the fatal shooting happened Friday night.  He has been charged with criminal possession of a weapon and murder.  At last night’s meeting, a detective working on the case talked briefly about the arrest, explained that investigators are following up on a lot of leads and  said they’re confident more arrests will be happening soon.  The tragedy, he added, “confirms that there are too many guns on the street.”

Followup: Raphael Ward Murder Investigation; Tributes to LES Teen

Still image from security camera video; persons wanted for questioning in Friday night’s murder.

The NYPD yesterday circulated security camera video showing four “persons of interest” wanted for questioning in the murder of Raphael Ward.

As the Times reported, cops declined to characterize what role the young men might have played in the fatal Friday night shooting on Columbia Street. The Daily News, however, went a few steps further.  Its provocative headline read, “Cops: Here are the four guys who killed Raphael Ward for his Marmot jacket.”

Later in the afternoon, the Post reported that police were already interviewing three other people.  “The threesome were not believed to have participated in the cold-blooded murder, but may have information that could help investigators solve the case,” sources told the tabloid.  Also yesterday, at least some police sources were waving reporters off the (widely reported) theory that Ward was killed for his jacket.

Video: Persons of Interest in Raphael Ward Murder

Today police have released security camera video they say shows “persons of interest” wanted for questioning in Friday night’s murder of 16-year old Raphael Ward on Columbia Street.  The video, recorded a short before the fatal shooting, shows four young men inside a deli at 49 Columbia Street.

According to the New York Times, the NYPD is declining to elaborate about the roles of these four, saying only “we want to speak to these people.”   Anyone with information should call Crimestoppers at 1-800-577-TIPS (8477).

Followup: 16-Year Old Raphael Ward Murdered on Columbia Street

A makeshift memorial, including photos, candles and flowers, has gone up on Columbia Street.

Here’s more on last night’s murder of 16-year old Raphael Ward, a resident of the Baruch Houses.  A memorial has appeared outside a convenience store on Columbia Street where the teen was shot and killed shortly after 9 p.m.  Police are still searching for the gunman.

The New York Times paints a portrait of an athletic, personable kid who may very well have had a bright future even though he was growing up in a pretty rough part of the neighborhood:

Raphael Ward was known in the projects of the Lower East Side for his tall lanky frame, his easy laugh and his devotion to nearly every form of sports, especially baseball.

16-Year Old Boy Shot and Killed on Columbia Street (Updated 12:29 p.m.)

A fight last night on Columbia Street led to the murder of a 16-year old boy.  WCBS reports police were called to Columbia and Rivington streets, near the Baruch Houses, at around 9 p.m.  They found the victim, Raphael Sadonte Ward, with a gunshot to the chest.

Ward was rushed to Beth Israel Hospital, where he was declared dead. This morning police are searching for a suspect or suspects.

Neighborhood sources tell us Ward was involved in a long-running dispute with other groups from the Lower East Side.  Earlier in the evening, there was apparently a fist fight that later escalated when at least one of those involved returned to the scene with a gun.

More to come…

UPDATE 12:06 p.m. The Post reports that Ward ran into a deli after being shot.  Before collapsing, he said a group had approached him earlier, saying they wanted his jacket.  Ward lived in the Baruch Houses.

Columbia Street Will Likely Be Storage Site For Water Main Project

The Columbia Street site proposed for the storage of construction materials

Last week’s meeting of Community Board 3’s transportation committee produced more details about the Grand Street Water Main Project, the huge City initiative to improve water pipelines below Grand Street from Broadway to Essex Street. Representatives from the Department of Design and Construction (DDC) were on hand to present the project’s timeframe, telling the committee that construction and accompanying traffic and water disruptions would not reach the Lower East Side until 2014. The project is slated to begin this summer and move east slowly until it reaches Essex in 2017.

But even though the first phase of the big project is taking place west of Bowery, officials said there will be some impacts in this neighborhood a lot sooner.  This is because, they said, the city is planning to use a site beneath the Williamsburg Bridge for the storage of construction materials.

Suspect in Lower East Side Shooting Spree Denied Bail

Columbia Street, near Delancey; Monday, February 27.

Here’s a follow-up on that overnight shootout near the Baruch Houses a week ago Sunday.  The suspect, Luis Martinez, was charged yesterday with two counts each of first degree attempted murder, attempted assault and 2nd degree criminal possession of a weapon.  He is being held without bail.

During a chase and shootout through the streets of the Lower East Side, police say Martinez fired at Housing Police officers Thomas Richards and Thomas Dunne. Bullet fragments were found in Richards’ magazine pouch; NYPD Commissioner Ray Kelly said it was a miracle Richards was not seriously hurt.  Police have called Martinez a suspected drug dealer.

Stephen Scott, a state appointed lawyer, appeared alongside Martinez in court yesterday. According to the Daily News he said his client would “have no comment to make in this case whatsoever.”

Martinez, a resident of the Baruch Houses, will be back in court a week from Thursday.


Photos: Columbia Street After Last Night’s Shooting

Columbia Street, near Delancey.

It’s still an active crime scene on Columbia Street this morning, following last night’s shooting spree.  As we reported earlier, two police officers and suspect Luis Martinez exchanged gunfire during a chase around the Baruch Houses.   People are milling about on the corner of Columbia and Delancey streets watching officers collect evidence. Parents and children on the way to school are having to take detours, since Columbia between Delancey and Rivington is closed to traffic.

A short time ago, Police Commissioner Ray Kelly spoke about the incident on a radio program.  He called it a miracle that one of the bullets was deflected by Officer Thomas Richards’ gun belt, possibly saving his life. “An inch either way, it would have been right in his stomach,” Kelly said at WOR. Kelly met with Richards and Thomas Dunne, the other officer.

Help Redesign Gulick Park Wednesday Night

Photo credit: Friends of Gulick Park.

Lots of Lower East Side families enjoyed a beautiful afternoon in Luther Gulick Park yesterday, taking in a puppet show put on by the Swedish Cottage Marionette Theater.  The event was part of a grassroots campaign to reclaim the park, at Delancey and Columbia streets, after years of neglect.

Wednesday night, that campaign takes a major step forward.   In a public workshop, to be held at the Abrons Arts Center, residents will have one last chance to tell Parks Dept. officials what they’d like to see before designers begin sketching out preliminary plans.