Granny shot by fellow elder in elevator: DA

Rafael Cartagena speaks about an incident during which his 81-year-old wife allegedly shot her 73-year-old neighbor last week. Photo by Brian Branch Price
By Anna Gustafson

An 81-year-old Forest Hills woman allegedly pulled a revolver from her fanny pack and shot her neighbor, the wife of a Grammy-winning jazz pianist, in the elevator of their Forest Hills apartment building last week, Queens District Attorney Richard Brown and police said.

Maria Cartagena, 81, has been charged with attempted murder and criminal possession of a weapon after she allegedly pulled the trigger on Iraida Palmieri, the 73-year-old wife of musician Eddie Palmieri, on the evening of March 23, according to the DA. She was released on $25,000 bail Friday night, the DA said.

Palmieri, who police said suffered a graze wound, is now recovering at her daughter’s Manhattan home, according to published reports.

Cartagena reportedly attacked her upstairs neighbor over repeated late-night noise that stemmed from the tapping of Iraida Palmieri’s high heels, the New York Post reported. Rafael Cartagena, Maria’s 60-year-old husband, told the Post the tension between the two women was based upon the Palmieris being from Puerto Rico and the Cartagenas hailing from the Dominican Republic.

Palmieri told police she was taking out her recyclables around 7 p.m. when the elevator doors opened at the fourth floor, where Cartagena was standing.

“Move over or I’ll kill you,” Cartagena allegedly said, according to the DA.

Cartagena allegedly repeated the threat and proceeded to pull a .38-caliber revolver from her fanny pack and fired one bullet that went through Palmieri’s hat and grazed her head, Brown said.

Eddie Palmieri has reportedly been so concerned about safety following the incident that he canceled a concert scheduled for last Friday at the Tarrytown Music Hall in Westchester County.

A Facebook statement from Tarrytown said Palmieri was “understandably traumatized by the experience and will not be able to play.”

“We are scrambling to find a new date and hope to be able to announce one in the next few days,” the Facebook statement said.

Palmieri has led a musical career that has spanned more than 50 years as the leader of salsa and Latin jazz orchestras. He has a discography that includes 36 titles and has landed nine Grammy awards.

Reach reporter Anna Gustafson by e-mail at agustafson@cnglocal.com or by phone at 718-260-4574.

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