Daily News, March 13, 2011, "Tragic Death Ride as Casino Bus Flips"



BY ERIK BADIA, MATTHEW LYSIAK, ALISON GENDAR and JONATHAN LEMIRE

Fourteen people were killed in a horrific crash early yesterday when their speeding discount bus flipped on a Bronx highway and careened into a metal traffic pole - which cut the vehicle in half.

The top of the World Wide bus, which was returning to the city from the Mohegan Sun casino in Connecticut, was sheared off when it hit the sign stanchion alongside the New England Thruway just after 5 :35 a.m.

Eighteen other people were injured in the grisly crash - which investigators think may have been caused by the bus driver falling asleep behind the wheel, police sources said.

"The bus was cut into two parts by the [pole]," said a survivor named Victor.

"I saw a lot of death," said Victor, as he sat dazed in the emergency room at Jacobi Medical Center. "People were crying. People were screaming."

Witnesses told State Police that the bus was speeding in the 55-mph zone. One witness saw Williams start to nod off before catching himself, a source said.

Daily News, June 23, 2010, "Girl Swept Away By Sea"



BY ERIK BADIA, MEREDITH KOLODNER and LARRY McSHANE

A celebratory class trip ended in death and devastation yesterday after a Harlem sixth-grader drowned in a swift Long Island riptide — despite posted warnings to stay out of the water.

Nicole Suriel, 12, vanished in the Atlantic Ocean while surrounded by Columbia Secondary School classmates on a bright summer morning, authorities said.

One of the girl’s panic-stricken teachers, who was desperately looking for the child, nearly drowned, and was pulled to the chaotic beach by rescuers who couldn’t locate the youngster for 90 wrenching minutes.

The teacher “was screaming,” said witness Mario Ciccarello, 18, who works for a beach chair rental business. “She was hysterical. . . It just all happened so fast.”

The sudden and shocking death raised immediate questions about why three adult chaperones, including an undergraduate intern, let the kids in the ocean despite signs advising no lifeguards were on duty in Long Beach, L.I.

“If I knew that there were no lifeguards I wouldn’t have let her go,” Nicole’s father, Juan Suriel, said through a translator last night outside the family’s Harlem home.

Daily News, October 31, 2011, "A Horror Plunge"




BY ERIK BADIA, JENNIFER H. CUNNINGHAM and BARRY PADDOCK

A Monstrous multicar pileup on the ice-slicked Cross Bronx Expressway Sunday sent a young mother and her boxer brother flying 75 feet off an overpass.

Jeneffer Sosa, 21, was killed. Her 20-year-old brother, Golden Gloves champion Pedro Luis Sosa, was in a coma, relatives said.

The brawler, who narrowly missed a spot on the 2012 Olympic team in August, was about to turn pro Monday. “It was supposed to be a big day,” said Sosa’s boxing coach, Marco Suarez.

Instead, family and friends gathered to mourn the loss of Jeneffer Sosa and pray for her brother. “Everybody's waiting to see if he’s going to live, or if he’s going to die,” Suarez said.

The Sosas were among 10 people packed into a Chevy Venture traveling east on the Cross Bronx Expressway about 5:45 a.m. Sunday as temperatures hovered near freezing and road surfaces turned treacherous.

An accident in the westbound lane caused some drivers to hit their brakes to rubberneck, prompting a wild pileup, with cars spinning on the black ice.

Daily News, July 15, 2010, "'Miracle Girl' All Grown Up, Thanks to Secret Gift From Boss"



BY ERIK BADIA and LARRY McSHANE


George Steinbrenner's death immediately brought Lorraine Blakely back to the year when The Boss helped save her life.

The Long Island mother of three was just a second-grader when the Yankee owner donated $13,000 to cover her medical bills after a freak 1977 accident nearly killed her.

Steinbrenner's contribution came with a caveat: The family could not discuss the gift. And Blakely, now 40, kept her part of the bargain until Steinbrenner died Tuesday.

"It just shows what a good man he was," Blakely said yesterday at her Lake Ronkonkoma, L.I., home. "He didn't want any notoriety for it he was just doing it out of the goodness of his heart."

Steinbrenner, despite a deserved reputation for bluster and bullying, often hid his softer side and philanthropic works: helping the kids of slain cops, funding hospitals, aiding terminally ill children.

And rescuing 7-year-old Lorraine after her skull was fractured by a flying chunk of wood in a botched Fire Department demonstration on Oct. 12,1977.

Daily News, October 15, 2011, "Officials Back off Plan to Clear out and Clean up Park"



THIS STORY WAS REPORTED BY: CHRISTINA BOYLE, ERIK BADIA, MATTHEW LYSIAK, PETE DONOHUE, JONATHAN LEMIRE, KERRY WILLS, MELISSA GRACE, ROCCO PARASCANDOLA, and RICH SCHAPIRO

It was written by: CORKY SIEMASZKO


Cops and protesters squared off in a series of skirmishes yesterday after officials avoided a potentially bigger battle by backing off their threat to clear demonstrators from Zuccotti Park.

Forty minutes before cops were supposed to start evicting the Occupy Wall Street protesters from what has been their base for nearly a month, Deputy Mayor Cas Holloway suddenly announced that park owner Brookfield Properties had postponed plans to powerwash the area and displace the protesters.

That sparked a wild celebration and emboldened smaller groups of demonstrators to begin marching on Wall Street — directly into the path of police officers protecting lower Manhattan.

“We are the 99%!” the motley band of demonstrators chanted. Police arrested 15 suspected troublemakers, NYPD spokesman Paul Browne said.

“You had a large number of individuals break the law by remaining in the street, disrupting traffic,” said Browne, adding that the NYPD has racked up $3.4 million in overtime dealing with the protests.

Daily News, September 3, 2011, "Couple is Shot Dead in Home"



BY HENRICK KAROLISZYN, ERIK BADIA, BOB KAPPSTATTER and JOHN DOYLE

Cops are investigating whether a 23-year-old Queens man played a role in the execution-style slayings of his parents, police sources said.

A cloud of suspicion surrounds Shane Jaggarnauth, who was also shot during what he described as an early morning ambush in Springfield Gardens.

Police said a gunman blasted Jaggarnauth in the shoulder about 4 a.m., piercing the silence of a normally quiet neighborhood. The shooter went upstairs and found a panicked couple in their bedroom before blasting each of them at least once in the head, a police source said.

Sugrim (Jay) Jaggarnauth, 64, and his wife, Rosie, 56, died at the scene on Grayson St. Before the wife died, she made a chilling call to 911, telling a dispatcher she was shot.

"Help," she whispered into the phone, according to a high-ranking police source. "Hurry."

Daily News, June 19, 2011, "Covered in Blood"





BY ERIK BADIA, MICHAEL DAILY, MATTHEW LYSIAK and LARRYMcSHANE

A gang-related gunfight at a “Freaky Friday” house party killed the father of a 2-year-old boy and wounded six others on a Brooklyn street left covered in bodies and blood.

“It was a massacre,” said eyewitness Dennis Fitzgerald, who watched as a minor collision between two revelers ignited the bloodbath early yesterday.

“It was like a zombie movie. People just staggering all bloody.” Terrified partygoers scrambled for their lives out the front and back doors of the two family house in East New York, where the overflow crowd filled the first floor and spilled into the yard.

The fusillade continued for 10 terrifying minutes, both inside and outside the house, with one drunken gunman randomly pumping bullets into fleeing guests without uttering a word.

Daily News, August 29, 2011, "People Will Scream"



BY LILLIAN RIZZO, ERIK BADIA, MARK MORALES, SARAH ARMAGHAN, LORE CROGHAN, ALISON GENDAR, PETE DONOHUE, REUVEN BLAU, BARRY PADDOCK, TINA MOORE and LARRY McSHANE

The worst of hit-and-run Hurricane Irene comes today as millions of commuters face a morning disaster, blackouts stretch into a third day and the cleanup kicks into high gear.

“It will be annoying, and people will scream,” Mayor Bloomberg predicted. Subways will run this morning with fewer trains and longer waits.

It was unclear when Metro-North and NJ Transit would begin regular service, but the Long Island Rail Road restores partial service this morning.

Buses were the first to get going yesterday. “This is a difficult process,” Metropolitan Transportation Authority boss Jay Walder said.

At the same time, utility companies scrambled to deal with widespread power failures. At its peak, Irene knocked out power to 174,000 customers in the city and Westchester County.

Daily News, September 30, 2011, "A Nabe Loses a Legend"



BY ERIK BADIA, MATTHEW LYSIAK and LARRY McSHANE

For 40 years, story spinner Andrew Burke held court inside the same Brooklyn barbershop — until a pair of murderous street punks shot him dead outside its front door.

The beloved 79-year-old died on a blood-soaked sidewalk as the killers’ intended target sprinted for safety through the shattered glass and scattered customers at Fest’s Barber Shop.

The gunmen and their would be victim remained on the lam yesterday as family and friends of the slain senior citizen struggled with an unexpectedly violent demise toanexuberant life.

“This was a neighborhood legend that was lost,” said Darryl Stallings, manager of the Bedford-Stuyvesant business. “Everybody loved him. This is just pitiful.”

Daily News, March 28, 2011, "TV/Radio Personality Slain"



BY ERIK BADIA, MEREDITH KOLODNER, MICHAEL J. FEENEY and JOHN LAUINGER

A Staten Island deejay and rising hip-hop star was shot to death while walking to a local bodega to buy a cigar early yesterday, police and a close friend said.

DJ Megatron was down the block from his Staten Island home when his killer approached about 2 a.m. and fired a single shot into his torso,cops said.

The32-year-old regular on BET’s “106 & Park,” whose real name was Corey McGriff, died on the street — his eyes facing the sky and a baseball cap at his side.

“It is just earth-shattering,” his mom, Louvenia McGriff, 60, told the Daily News by phone from her Georgia home.

Daily News, September 12, 2011, "HS Hoopster Gunned Down in Apt. Hallway"

BY ERIK BADIA, HENRICK KAROLISZYN, ERIN DURKIN and BARRY PADDOCK

A high school basketball star was shot dead inside a Manhattan housing project yesterday in a slaying her family believes was a tragic case of mistaken identity.

Tayshana (Chicken) Murphy, 18, one of the top-rated basketball players in the country, was killed in Harlem’s Grant Houses around 4:10a.m., police said.

She was trying to outrun a gunman in the fourth-floor hallway of her building, witnesses said. “She was pleading for her life,” said friend Teka Taylor, 22. “She was saying, ‘No, please, I don’t have nothing to do with it.’”

Murphy had just started her senior year at Murry Bergtraum High School for Business Careers. Several colleges were actively recruiting her.

“She said, ‘Mom, I’m going to get you out of the projects,’” said Murphy’s mother, Tephanie Holston, whose shirt was stained with blood after she tried to save her daughter before emergency workers arrived.

Daily News, August 23, 2010, "Battle Takes To The Streets"



BY ERIK BADIA, KATE NOCERA and LUKAS I. ALPERT

Mosque hysteria hit fever pitch yesterday as angry protesters held dueling demonstrations over the proposed Islamic center near Ground Zero.

An army of cops kept the flag-waving, sign-carrying crowds two blocks from each other - but the gulf between them seemed miles apart.

"It's very insensitive to the families," said retired Firefighter Tim Brown, 48, a 9/11 first responder. "Don't build this mosque here at Ground Zero, on our cemetery."

Supporters said blocking the planned religious center two blocks from the Trade Center site would undermine all that makes America great.

''These people against it need to open their eyes and see how much hate this is bringing," said 28-year-old tour guide Victor Hernandez. "The terrorists win when we don't allow people their freedoms."

Daily News, June 29, 2010, "Hero 'Proud' Of His Boy In Blue"



**EXCLUSIVE**
BY ERIK BADIA and ROCCO PARASCANDOLA

The son of a hero cop paralyzed in a 1986 Central Park shooting is joining the NYPD, fulfilling a life-long dream inspired by his father's bravery and a city's outpouring of support, Conor McDonald, the 23-year-old son of NYPD Detective Steven McDonald, is expected to be sworn in next week as a member of the latest Police Academy class.

"Since the time I was 8 years old I've thought about this," Conor McDonald said as his proud pop sat in a wheelchair beside him at the family's Long Island home. "My life changed before I was even born," he said.

"When my dad got shot in '86, there was a lot of love that the city gave my family. I just felt compelled to do this." His father, now 53, did not discourage his son's decision to join the Finest despite knowing first hand the dangers of the job.

"I was very proud of him that he did that and prouder still he decided to take on this challenge to protect New York City," Steven McDonald said. "It's not a job that anybody can do, you find that out right away."

The senior McDonald was on plain clothes patrol in Central Park on July 12, 1986, when he confronted a trio of bicycle thieves and one of them, 15-year-old Shavod Jones, shot him in the neck.

Steven McDonald, whose wife, Patricia Ann, was then pregnant with Conor, was left paralyzed from the neck down. The veteran cop - breathing with the help of a ventilator - was promoted to detective and remains a member of the NYPD today.

Daily News, February 25, 2011, "Pileup in the Tunnel"



BY ERIK BADIA, JOE JACKSON and JOHN LAUINGER

A motorcyclist was in critical condition yesterday after getting sandwiched between two buses in a Lincoln Tunnel smashup that snarled the morning commute, authorities said.

A total of 52 bus passengers also were injured in the chain-reaction wreck in the Manhattan bound lanes of the tunnel's center tube shortly before 7 :30 a.m.

The motorcyclist was riding between two buses when traffic suddenly stopped, an NYPD source said.

The first bus stopped. The second did not. It slammed into the motorcyclist, pinning him against the first bus, the source said. A third bus then plowed into the pileup.

The motorcyclist, who was not identified, wound up underneath the second bus. A passenger onthat bus, Janet Rivera, 44, of Carteret, N.J.,made a frantic call to her husband after suffering whiplash.

Daily News, June 20, 2011, "Deadly Dad's Day Takes the Life of 2nd Young Father"

BY ERIK BADIA and JOHN LAUINGER

A Queens man was killed in a hail of bullets in Brooklyn yesterday — the second young dad slain over a Father’sDay weekend marked by a shocking surge of gun violence.

Anthony McRae, 22, the hardworking father of a 2-year-old son, was shot six times early yesterday in front of a Rockaway Ave. deli during a tragic visit to the Brownsville neighborhood of his youth.

“It’s Father’s Day! I don’t understand! It’s Father’s Day,” McRae’s grandmother wailed afterward as tears streamed down her face.

It was one of at least a dozen incidents of gun violence gripping the city yesterday. Overall, there were no fewer than 19 shootings citywide over the weekend — including at least eight in Brooklyn.

The grim final tally: three killed, 28 wounded. Eight people were shot in gang-related gunplay at an East New York house party early Saturday. Donzell Rogers, 21 — the father, like McRae, of a 2-year-old son—died in the fusillade.

Daily News, April 11, 2011, "Her Bloody End"



BY ERIK BADIA, HENRICK KAROLISZYN and JOE KEMP

A dazzling blond former Hunter College student was fatally stabbed and nearly decapitated yesterday after battling with her live-in boyfriend, cops said.

The yelling between Sarah Coit, 23, and Raul Barrera, 33, inside their third-floor lower East Side apartment grew so loud that it woke neighbors around 2:15 a.m., witnesses said.

Cops would later find Coit on the living room floor of the Clinton St. flat, blood spilling from her wounds.

“Her whole neck was cut all the way,” said Briana Andalore, 20, who lives downstairs and saw the victim being hauled away on a stretcher. “Her head was almost cut off.”

Coit, who worked sales at Lacoste, sources said, and last enrolled at Hunter a year ago, according to the school, died at Beth Israel Medical Center about an hour later.

Daily News, September 17, 2011, "Stepdad Gives up in Death of Tot, 3"

BY ERIK BADIA, MATTHEW LYSIAK, RHEMA THOMPSON and CHRISTINA BOYLE

A Bronx man with a checkered past surrendered to cops yesterday—hours after the death of his 3-year-old stepdaughter was ruled a homicide.

Kenneth Williams, dressed in tan jeans and a red hoodie, turned himself in at the 48th Precinct station house in Mount Hope just after 4 p.m. He was accompanied by his lawyer and didn’t speak.

His stepdaughter, India Durant, was found unconscious just before 10a.m.Wednesday in her Crotona Park East apartment.

The toddler was taken to St. Barnabas Hospital, where she died about an hour later. The medical examiner’s office said India died of “blunt impacts of torso with internal injuries.”

Such injuries are generally consistent with a beating. Williams, also known as Billy Bob, was the only adult with India when she lost consciousness.

Daily News, July 17, 2011, "SUV Flies, But no One Dies as it Lands on Top of Cab"

BY ERIK BADIA, BOB KAPPSTATTER and LARRY McSHANE

AN SUV doing 110 mph sailed off the FDR Drive and crushed a cab stopped 20 feet below in a horrifying wreck that miraculously spared all eight people involved.

“They’re lucky to be alive,” said witness Brian Duncan, 55, after the ghastly 3 a.m. crash yesterday. “Nobody died there. Do you know how incredible that is?”

The cab’s roof was flattened like a pancake when the green 2001 Land Rover cartwheeled over the elevated highway’s guardrail and crushed rookie hack Atif Raza’s ride at an East Side red light.

The green SUV’s force of impact drove the squashed cab about 150 feet along the service road near E. 23rd St., strewing shattered glass and car parts in its wake. The two vehicles hit roof to roof.

“I couldn’t believe it,” said witness London Jones, 47. “I was actually seeing a car come off the divider and flip. It was flying.”

Daily News, August 8, 2011, "Wheelchair Rob 'Stupid Mistake'"

**EXCLUSIVE**

BY ERIK BADIA, NICHOLAS RIZZI and BARRYPADDOCK

A TEEN THIEF admitted snatching a purse from a wheelchair-bound woman — but says he just made a stupid mistake.

“It happened, I regret it,” Cody Santiago said in an exclusive interview from Rikers Island. “Everybody makes stupid mistakes. Everybody does things they regret.”

Santiago, 18, was arrested Thursday after police identified him from surveillance tape that captured the crime.

The lanky youngster with long blond locks is seen on the tape walking past Catalina Mateo, 76, as she is being pushed in her wheelchair down Wyckoff Ave. on July 20 near Santiago’s Bushwick, Brooklyn, home.

Santiago turns around, snatches her handbag — which contained only $15 and her medication —and runs off.

Daily News, July 10, 2011, "Maniac Driver Hits Lover, Flees"

BY ERIK BADIA and JONATHAN LEMIRE

A maniac driver mowed down his girlfriend in midtown and then sped off, leaving her half-naked body in the street — then later drunkenly flipped the car on the Harlem River Drive, police said.

Ricaury Pena, 28, was in serious condition at Harlem Hospital after he wrecked the tricked-out 2006 Honda Pilot yesterday near the on-ramp to the George Washington Bridge.

The 23-year-old victim, meanwhile, suffered severe trauma and was rushed to Bellevue Hospital. She was upgraded to stable condition hours after the wild 3 a.m. accident on W. 46th St., officials said.

Investigators are still piecing together what led to the chaotic scene, but witnesses said the victim was working at the El Tequilazo bar in the moments before she was injured.

She was sent flying after she was struck by the Honda — which had a customized Superman logo on its front bumper, witnesses and police sources said.

Daily News, July 4, 2011, "Two Crazy 911 Calls = One Horror"

BY ERIK BADIA, SAM LEVIN, SARAH DARVILLE and JOE KEMP

A Manhattan man charged with fatally stabbing his mother told a police operator he did it — then apparently had second thoughts, law enforcement sources said.

“He calls 911 and says he killed his mother,” a source said of suspect Jonathan Schwartz. “He calls again and says, ‘No, she committed suicide.’”

The 41-year-old unemployed man with a history of psychological problems was awaiting arraignment last night on charges he murdered his philanthropist mother, Barbara Schwartz.

He stared stone-faced and was silent, his eyes sunken and dark and his beard untamed, as he was walked out of a police station house.

He shuffled along, bound at the wrists and ankles, wearing a police-issued white smock and booties.

The body of the 67-year-old woman was found inside the E. 85th St. home near Park Ave. she shared with her unemployed son and husband Burt Fischler just before 5p.m. Saturday.

Daily News, February 7, 2011, "Gunplay Shatters Surprise B'Day Bash"

BY ERIK BADIA, JENNIFER H. CUNNINGHAM and JOHN LAUINGER

A young Queens woman was killed by a party crasher who fired shots through a closed door after she helped toss him from the bash yesterday, cops and her family said.

Avalisa Morris, 26, had planned the surprise party in St. Albans for a close friend’s birthday. She spent all day Saturday cooking Caribbean food for the special occasion, her stunned family said.

“She was a people pleaser,” said her great uncle, Spencer Grant. “She was in the act of doing something kind and suffered a senseless death.”

The man who crashed the party at a two story home on 119th Road came to see a female guest over a previous dispute, police and Morris’ family said.

He was kicked out and had a basement door locked behind him shortly before 4:30 a.m. Morris was the one who made sure the party crasher and others involved in the argument didn’t get back inside.

“She was at the door, and the people that were fighting went outside,” said her cousin, Larrissa Whyte, who was at the party.

“And she closed the door, and she was standing by the door to make sure that they didn’t come back in.”

Furious over getting the boot, the party crasher ruthlessly fired at least two rounds through the closed door.

Daily News, September 25, 2011, "DUI Blamed in Harlem Crash"


BY ERIK BADIA and BOB KAPPSTATTER


A drunken female driver ran a red light at a busy Harlem intersection early yesterday, plowing into a yellow taxi and seriously injuring the cabbie, police said.

Police said Artisha Shivers, 26, was speeding westbound on 125th St. in a 2010 gray Mazda sedan when she ran the red light at Eighth Ave. about 4:30 a.m.

The impact pushedthe yellow cab through the intersection and into a livery cab, cops said.

Shivers and a male passenger were taken to St. Luke’s-Roosevelt Hospital for treatment of minor injuries, while the yellow cab driver, identified only as 43 years old, was taken to Harlem Hospital and was in stable condition.

Police said Shivers, of Ossining, N.Y., was charged with driving while intoxicated and possession of marijuana. Her male passenger was issued a summons for possession of marijuana.

Daily News, March 27, 2011, "Pregnant Driver Escapes Brushes with Death"

BY ERIK BADIA and LARRY McSHANE

One minute, Ester Melendez was sitting in late-night traffic on the Major Deegan Expressway. And the next, she was staring at death in her rearview mirror.

Melendez, five months pregnant and just married,was headed home to the Bronx with her mom yesterday when a demented SUV driver appeared from behind and slammed into the side ofher car.

Then he backed the SUV up and did it again. And again. And one more time as the terrified mother and daughter watched helplessly.

“He kept on backing up and hitting us, rocking our car back and forth,” a rattled Melendez recounted. “And then he just kept on driving.”

Melendez, 33, was sailing north on the Deegan with mom Martha after visiting family in Brooklyn. Suddenly, the traffic slowed to a crawl.

Melendez suspected road construction. But it was actually a police roadblock aimed at halting Orlando Santos, 28, after a dizzying 3-mile, high-speed chase.

It worked — but cops said Santos refused to surrender. Shortly after midnight, three officers gunned down the suspect on a Deegan overpass.

Daily News, June 22, 2010 "Shot Dead After Club Snub"

BY ERIK BADIA, ROCCO PARASCANDOLA and CORKY SIEMASZKO

He paid for an act of chivalry with his life.

A courageous customs officer known as "Big Mo" was killed yesterday in a wild gun battle in the driveway of his father's house in Queens shortly after he defended his cousin from a goon's unwanted advances at a Long Island nightclub.

"Call 911!Call 911!" a bleeding Maurice Gordon shouted seconds after he was blasted, the cousin, Kerry Ann Daily, told the Daily News.

Those were the last words of the 33-year-old officer, who managed to empty his gun before he was felled by a fatal shot to the chest, police sources said.

In a flash the gurumen were gone, Gordon was dead, and 25 spent shell casings littered 118th Ave. in Jamaica - mute reminders of yet another senseless gun death in the city.

"They were just looking at him directly and they just attacked him," said Daily, 33. Weeping near the spot where her husband died, Gordon's widow, Katisha, called him a "great man."

"I'm gonna miss him dearly," Gordon's father, Desmond, said as tears tumbled down his cheeks. "He is the best son that ever came on the face of this Earth."

Daily News, March 14, 2011, "4 Critically Hurt in Sunset Park Blaze"

BY ERIK BADIA, RYAN STRONG and KATIE NELSON

An early morning fire ripped through a Brooklyn apartment building yesterday, injuring 40 people - four critically, FDNY officials said.

The three-alarm blaze broke out on the four-story Sunset Park building's upper floors shortly after 5 a.m.

Coughing, soot-covered residents of 510 61st St. fled using fire escapes, as orange flames swallowed a swath of apartments and two stores, Hong Sheng Food Inc. and Chang FengFood Market.

"I just smelled smoke and we jumped out onto the fire escape," said Jian Xiong Wu, 41, who lives on the third floor.

"But our dog hasn't made it out," Wu said, visibly upset.

Paramedics took 28 residents to area hospitals. Four people were in critical condition, four were in serious condition and the rest had minor injuries.

Another 12 firefighters - one who was seriously injured - were also taken to hospitals for treatment.

Daily News, June 5, 2011, "Building Burns & Collapses"

BY ERIK BADIA and SAMUEL GOLDSMITH

A fast-moving four-alarm fire ravaged a Brooklyn apartment building yesterday morning, injuring one resident and four fire fighters who battled the blaze.

The fire broke out inside the five-story Prospect Heights building about 4 a.m., with flames so big they damaged several adjacent buildings.

The fire on Washington Ave. burned for more than three hours, said FDNY Deputy Chief John Mooney. Then “we had a collapse of a wall,” Mooney said.

“One firefighter was injured with a piece of debris, a brick, that hit him in the face,”Mooney said. The four other injuries were minor.

The wall collapse was dramatic, witnesses said. They described it as looking like an explosion of bricks and creating a wall of dust that filled the block.

“I was surprised the bricks flew so far,” said David Alleyne, 60, of Canarsie, who was on his way to work.

“They hit hard but I wasn’t expecting them to kick out like that. I was on edge.”

Neighbor Soraya Meer, 41, said the building had recently undergone renovation. “Just two days ago they brought in a lot of stuff, work materials, to help with the renovation,” she said. “It was really noisy.”

The cause of the blaze is under investigation.

Daily News, August 26, 2010, "Eternity is Ruined by L.I. Body Snatchers"

BY ERIK BADIA and LUKAS ALPERT

Mattia Filipazzo spent the last years of her life making sure she and her beloved husband, Stefano, would spend eternity together.

She and her family spent two painstaking years building a spectacular marble mausoleum for him at St. Charles Cemetery in East Farmingdale, L.I., after he died at age 88 in 1990.

They had his body moved there when it was completed. Mattia joined him in what was supposed to be their final resting place when she died in 1998 at age 87.

Now their sacred bond has been wrecked by a scavenger, as grave robbers ripped her body from the crypt earlier this week and left her husband's body behind.

"They took her and not him? I don't understand anything," said the Filippazzos' daughter-in-law, Louise, cursing the thieves in Italian.

"I can't believe they would do such a horrible thing," she said. "It's despicable. It's sick."

Daily News, February 21, 2011, "S.I. Hero Saves Neighbor From Burning Building"

**EXCLUSIVE**
BY ERIK BADIA and KATIE NELSON

A humble hero ran into a blazing Staten Island building yesterday to pull a critically injured neighbor from the flames.

Jose Rios was calling for help inside the four-unit building on Sand Lane in South Beach after the blaze ignited at 4:45a.m.

Matthew Geissler, 24, was sleeping in his family’s apartment next door when his mom, Mary Ann Geissler, saw smoke and flames.

Geissler said her screams sent her son, who was wearing just a thin waffle shirt, gray sweats and leather slippers, flying out the door to try to save his neighbor, a father of three.

“I could hear him, ‘Help me, help me!’” said Geissler. He broke down the locked front door with his right shoulder, he said.

Rios was at the top of the stairs. “By the time I got there he was out cold,” Geissler said.

“I grabbed his legs and dragged him out. . . .To get over there, it was maybe a couple of seconds. But it felt like a lifetime. I knew he had kids.”

Daily News, April 14, 2011, "Twin Serial Killers?"

BY ERIK BADIA and JOHN LAUINGER

Long Island cops hunting for a serial killer do not believe the sicko is also responsible for the Black Horse Pike slayings in Atlantic City, a top police official said yesterday.

“There is no connection between the Atlantic City case and the Suffolk County case,” Suffolk Police Commissioner Richard Dormer said, citing recent investigative findings.


Suffolk investigators began looking closely at the unsolved Atlantic City murders after the remains of four craigslist call girls were found on a remote coastal island in December.

The four victims in Atlantic City were all female prostitutes. And they were found dead in November 2006 in a ditch behind a motel on the Black Horse Pike highway.

All were barefoot, their bodies arranged face down in a line with their heads pointing toward Atlantic City. The four slain hookers found near Gilgo Beach on Long Island were wrapped in burlap sacks and dumped amid brush-covered dunes.

Dormer said the different methods used to dispose of the bodies is not the only factor that sets the cases apart.

Daily News, May 15, 2011, "VW Corner Strikes for Thrid Time"

BY ERIK BADIA and KEVIN DEUTSCH

A VOLKSWAGEN flew off a dangerous Queensboro Bridge exit ramp yesterday, injuring two men in the same spot where two fatal Volkswagen crashes have occurred in the past two months, police said.

The Volkswagen GTI hatchback went airborne and slammed into two concrete barriers that the city  Department of Transportation installed following the previous crashes.

After plowing through some scaffolding, the car landed atop a livery cab, witnesses said.

Kristy Myles, 33, exited the cab just before impact. “I was coming out of the cab, going to the ATM to pay the cab driver, and I saw the car coming at me,” Myles said.

“I just covered my face and ran. Parts of the car were pouring all over me.”

Two bloodied men crawled out of the hatchback and were rushed to New York-Presbyterian Hospital, police said.

A VW Jetta crashed at the same exit ramp April 6, severing the driver’s arm and killing a passenger. A week earlier, a VW Rabbit crashed there, killing a pedestrian.

The DOT said it will look into whether further safety measures are needed.

Daily News, June 28, 2010, "Anger & Chaos in City Over Bus Cuts"














BY ERIK BADIA, SIMONE WEICHSELBAUM and BARRY PADDOCK


A protest in Queens trapped one city bus for an hour yesterday as doomsday service cuts left riders and straphangers reeling all over town.

Whitestone residents are steamed the Q15A, a new alternate route of the Q15 bus meant to pick up riders stranded by the elimination of the Q14, has been routed down a residential stretch of 1oth Ave. they say is too narrow.

"It's a safety issue," said Kevin Leibowitz, 46, an electrician. "A fire truck, usually the first response for a heart attack, how are they gonna get by?"

Dozens of angry neighbors joined former City Councilman Tony Avella (D-Queens) to stand in front of one of the Q15A buses, stopping it cold.

"We don't want you here, go away," one local resident shouted at the driver.

Daily News, March 13, 2011, "4 Injured in Harlem Apt. Blaze"

BY ERIK BADIA and BOB KAPPSTATTER

A fire ripped through a Harlem apartment building yesterday morning, critically injuring four, including two young children.

Three other building residents were also injured in the blaze at 271 W. 126th St., which broke out shortly after 2 a.m.

Officials said there were no smoke detectors in either the second-floor apartment—where the blaze started — or in the fourth floor apartment, where the four victims were found.

The fire started when an apparently still-lit match ignited bedding in the second-floor apartment, they said.

The tenant first tried to put the fire out herself and then fled the apartment, leaving the door open, which fanned the flames, said FDNY Deputy Chief Peter Mulhall.

He said when the first units arrived, flames were pouring out of the second-floor windows, and building occupants on the sidewalk were yelling about people trapped on the fourth floor.

When firefighters got into the fourth-floor apartment, they found a man, 61; a woman, 43; a girl, 5, and a boy, 3 — all unconscious.

Daily News, June 17, 2010, "Ex-girlfriend's rampage leaves 2 dead and 1 wounded"

BY ERIK BADIA, KERRY WILLS and CHRISTINA BOYLE

A correction officer went on a shocking shooting spree on Long Island yesterday, gunning down her ex-girlfriend before attacking her own family, police said.

Kim Wolfe apparently snapped after dropping off food to her former lover, nurse's aide Stacie Williams, during her break at the Nassau University Medical Center in East Meadow around 1:30 a.m.

After a heated argument, Wolfe, who was off-duty, shot Williams dead outside the hospital then sped 3 1/2 miles to her family's home in Hempstead, where she caused even more bloodshed, cops said.

Wolfe then gunned down her uncle, Michael Williams, 56, and shot her 88-year-old grandfather in the leg before kidnapping her niece for "protection" and attempting to flee with her in a Mitsubishi Montero to Atlantic City, police said.

The murderous spree lasted just over four hours and ended when Wolfe was pulled over by cops at 5:45 a.m. with a 9-mm handgun in her vehicle and surrendered.

Her 23-year-old niece was not injured. Compounding the anguish for Stacie Williams' family, one of her three sons, Frederick King, 28, was struck by a car as he ran across the Hempstead Turnpike in a desperate dash to reach his dying mother's side.