Asbestos Decontamination Tents Set Up in NYCHA Playground

Shortly before the Thanksgiving holiday, local community activist Dashia Imperiale started asking questions about several tents that had been set up in the playground of NYCHA’s Seward Park Extension at 154 Broome St. Signs on one of the tents read, “Danger: Asbestos. Cancer and lung disease hazard.” She sent an email the other day to local elected officials and other community leaders, raising concerns about the issue.

Today she got the attention of the Daily News with a story that carried the headline, “Decontamination tents for asbestos cleanup crews erected in middle of kids playground.” Referring to the scandal over the public housing authority’s lead paint inspections, Imperiale told the News, “It’s so ridiculous… They just got in trouble for lead… So you’re going to put an asbestos decontamination chamber in a playground because people don’t know what it is?”

The playground is inaccessible, surrounded by a chain link fence. For the past several weeks, crews have been replacing old brick and caulking that contained asbestos. Workers use the tents to change between street clothes and haz-mat suits. According to a shop steward, the asbestos isn’t airborne unless you grind it, which is not happening at the Broome Street site.

A NYCHA spokesperson told the News that the tents went in the playground because no other location was available and that crews are abiding by, “stringent safety protocols . . . (to) ensure no one — residents, children, or staff — is exposed to any asbestos materials.”

The tents are supposed to be removed by Saturday.

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A Short-Lived Garbage Fire at Seward Park Extension


Firefighters made quick work of a garbage fire at the Seward Park Extension housing complex on Essex Street this morning.  They were on the scene quickly and extinguished the blaze in a matter of minutes.

Defendant in Cop Shooting on LES Arrested in Virginia

A police officer was shot at the Seward Park Extension July 5, 2012.

A police officer was shot at the Seward Park Extension July 5, 2012.

According to local news reports from Virginia, a suspect wanted in connection with the shooting of a police officer on the Lower East Side last summer has been taken into custody.  The King William County Sheriff arrested Kenneth Siders, 35,  after a “standoff in a residence” May 8.   Siders was one of 13 people charged by the U.S. Attorney late last year on federal drug trafficking and gun charges.

The investigation began soon after the shooting of NYPD Officer Brian Groves July 5 inside 64 Essex Street, which is part of the Seward Park Extension public housing complex.  The officer was saved by his bullet proof vest. During the undercover operation, prosecutors said cops bought cocaine and crack from alleged members of the organizations on 25 occasions and purchased a .22 caliber handgun that, according to ballistics tests, was used in the shooting of Groves.

When the indictments were unsealed last December, prosecutors noted that one defendant remained at large.  Siders was charged with both drug and gun possession offenses carrying potential life prison terms but the U.S. Attorney was not specific about his role in the cop shooting.  The indictment alleged that a man named Richard Franco was in charge of the drug organization which had allegedly operated from the Seward Park Extension since 2007.


Report: Gun Used to Shoot Cop on LES Was Recovered

The scene outside the Seward Park Extension following the shooting of a police officer last summer.

There are reports today that the gun used to shoot a police officer at the Seward Park Extension housing complex last July has been recovered.  Sources told the Daily News that the NYPD and the Drug Enforcement Administration found the .22 caliber handgun during a drug-related investigation in September.  Indictments are reportedly expected later today.

Officer Brian Groves was shot while on patrol in the public housing development on Essex Street July 5.  His life was saved by a bullet proof vest. In spite of a large cash reward, police have had no luck tracking down the suspected shooter. More from the News:

The .22-caliber handgun was recovered in September during an undercover purchase made while the NYPD and the Drug Enforcement Administration probed a drug crew, the law enforcement source said. Authorities are expected to announce on Thursday the indictment of 13 members of that crew.

The topic of gun crime has obviously moved to the top of the national agenda following the Newtown, Connecticut school shooting.  Last fall, the New York City DA, State Assembly Speaker Sheldon Silver and the NYPD sponsored a gun buy-back program on the Lower East Side. Fifty guns were turned in, including 14 semi-automatic weapons.

State law makers could return to Albany as early as today to vote on a series of tough new gun control measure proposed by Governor Cuomo.


Real Crime Scene Becomes Fictional Television Backdrop

“Person of Interest” star Jim Caviezel filming outside the Seward Park Extension

In what can only be a bizarre coincidence, the cast and crew of CBS crime drama “Person of Interest” were filming at Grand and Norfolk streets yesterday afternoon, behind the Seward Park Extension building, the site of last week’s shooting of police officer Brian Groves.

The show follows the adventures of an ex-CIA operative who stops crime in New York City at the behest of a mysterious billionaire. Groves was saved by his bullet-proof vest after being fired on by a suspect he was chasing down a stairwell. The shooter remains at-large, and police are offering up to $22,000 for information relating to his arrest. More photos from yesterday’s filming after the jump.

New Reward For Info Leading to Arrest in Cop Shooting

NYPD sketch.

Police are still looking for a 20-year old man wanted in the shooting of a New York City Police officer last week inside the Seward Park Extension housing complex.  The NYPD is now offering a $10,000 reward for information leading to the arrest of the suspect, who fled after the early morning incident last Thursday.

The reward money is on top of the $10,000 previously offered by the “Cop Shot” program and the $2,000 Crimestoppers routinely pays for information leading to an arrest.   The suspect, depicted in the police sketch posted above, has a skinny build. He was wearing a long black t-shirt, long red basketball shorts with a cream-colored stripe. His hair is styled in corn rows with beads in them.

If you have information about this crime, call  Crime Stoppers at 1-800-577-TIPS.

Officer Brian Groves went home from the hospital on Friday.  A bullet proof vest saved his life.


Suspect in Cop Shooting Still at Large

NYPD sketch.

Here’s the latest this morning on the shooting of Police Officer Brian Groves at the Seward Park Extension housing complex.  Following yesterday’s incident, the NYPD is still searching for the suspect, who fled down a stairwell at 64 Essex Street early yesterday morning after shooting Groves in the chest.  Groves, who was wearing a bullet proof vest, will likely be released from the hospital today.

Cops released a sketch of the suspect yesterday afternoon. The man they’re looking for is in his early 20’s with a skinny build. He was wearing a long black t-shirt, long red basketball shorts with a cream-colored stripe. The suspect’s hair is styled in corn rows with beads in them.  He was carrying a silver, long-barrel revolver.

Police Officer Identified, Seward Park Extension Residents Questioned

The police officer who was shot early this morning at the Seward Park Extension has been identified as 30-year old Brian Groves. He and his partner were responding to a report of “criminal activity in a stairwell,”  according to a report on Channel 2.  A short time ago, Police Commissioner Ray Kelly said, Groves spotted a man with a gun as soon as they opened the door to the stairwell, on the 22nd floor of 64 Essex Street.

More on This Morning’s Police Shooting at 64 Essex Street

Essex Street at Delancey.

More details now on the shooting of a police officer earlier this morning inside the Seward Park Extension at 64 Essex Street.  According to the Daily News, the officer’s life was saved by his bullet proof vest. He is resting at Bellevue Hospital at this hour in stable condition after the incident, which occurred around 3:50 a.m.

There’s an enormous police presence around the public housing complex this morning. Essex between Delancey and Grand is blocked off. Sections of Norfolk and Broome are also closed. Police are searching for a 20-year old black man wearing red shorts. The shooting happened on the 20th floor of the building.