By Jeremy Walsh
Following a domestic dispute in which he threw a microwave out the window, Vincent Ricks locked his common-law wife out of their apartment in the Queensbridge Houses around 12 p.m., police said. Ricks kept his daughter Serena with him and threatened to burn the apartment down with a can of gasoline and a lighter, police said.Police rapidly evacuated the six-story building and cordoned off the block, sending residents into local businesses to find shelter from the freezing rain. Ricks gave himself up to police shortly after 7 p.m. He was charged with attempted arson, reckless endangerment, unlawful imprisonment and endangering the welfare of a child, the Queens district attorney's office said.There was no word by press time Tuesday on when Ricks was arraigned or when he might return to court.If convicted, Ricks could face up to 15 years in prison, the DA's office said.Police cut down set up airbags outside the apartment. Officers and firefighters queued in the stairwell, while snipers took up posts on the roof and atop the building across the street.Meanwhile, an air of playfulness permeated the nearby businesses where evacuated residents awaited a resolution to the standoff. Many people made snowballs from the roofs of parked cars, but their spirits dampened as the freezing drizzle persisted and the shops began to close.Joanne Sepulveda, who has lived in the building for nine years, was at work when the residents were evacuated. When she got home, she said she found her 3-year-old son outside with her other children.”They didn't have time to get him ready,” she said. “He had no hat, no scarf, no gloves, just a jacket.”Eventually the evacuees were taken to the nearby Jacob Riis Community Center.Ricks' family members said his wife, Brenda, called them to tell them something was wrong.”She called us crying, saying he locked her out and he was going to burn him and his baby up,” said Ricks' niece, Alexis Harris, 18, of Brooklyn. She described Ricks as a kind person.”He would give you his last dollar,” she said.Neighbors said Ricks is a disc jockey.”He was all right,” said neighbor Leonard Bauford, 19, of Ricks' DJ skills. Bauford also said he had not seen Ricks for close to a year.Police negotiated with an anguished Ricks for hours, exhorting him to “be strong” and let officers in the apartment.Reach reporter Jeremy Walsh by e-mail at email@example.com or by phone at 718-229-0300, Ext. 154.