By Ivan Pereira
Police Officer John G. Scarangella gave his life to help protect the streets of southeast Queens 29 years ago and the city honored the member of New York’s Finest Monday by renaming the street outside his precinct in his honor.
After years of delays, Mayor Michael Bloomberg approved the bill that renamed several New York streets, including the west side of Baisley Boulevard between 167th and 168th streets to “Officer John Scarangella Way.” This is the location of the 113th Precinct, where Scarangella, a 14-year veteran, served at the time of his death at the hands of violent criminals in 1981.
Scarangella’s son, Tommy, said he, his mother, two older sisters and younger brother were thrilled that his father was being recognized for his work in the community.
“It means so much to have his legacy to live on. For other cops to look up and see his name and what he stood for…it gives us a little something.,” the 37-year-old Port Authority officer said.
On April 16, 1981, Scarangella, 42, and his partner were investigating a van that was connected to burglaries in southeast Queens. As the officers got out of their car, the two passengers in the van left their vehicle and opened fire at Scarangella and his partner with 9 mm guns, according to Officer Down Memorial Page Inc., a nonprofit group that remembers officers killed in the line of duty.
Scarangella was shot twice in the head and died two weeks later, while his partner survived 14 shots to his leg and back, the memorial page said. The partner was forced to retire from the force a year later because of his injuries.
The suspects, who were one-time members of the Black Liberation Army, were arrested in two separate incidents in North Carolina and Pennsylvania, according to the group. The man arrested in Pennsylvania also engaged officers in a fight before being arrested, the memorial page said.
In 1986, they were both convicted of Scarangella’s murder and sentenced to 25 years to life in prison.
Scarangella’s family has been trying to have the street outside the station house renamed for years, but they had strong opposition from Community Board 12, which has jurisdiction over the area. The board rejected the proposal in 2006, claiming the request did not meet its criteria for a street renaming.
In the spring, the board changed its rules for street renamings and said the honoree must have be a resident of the community for at least a decade.
Tommy Scarangella said his father enjoyed his two years at the 113th and got to know the community well.
“He loved his job and even though he wasn’t there for long, he put 150 percent into it,” he said.
Despite the new rules and opposition from the board, the Scarangella’s request had major support from City Councilman Leroy Comrie (D-St. Albans), who put him on the list of names for a street renaming,
“He was a good police officer and for it to take so long, it was hurtful to the precinct. Now that it has really come to fruition, everyone is happy about it,” said Vivian McMillen, president of the precinct’s community council.
The councilman also submitted a proposal to rename the east side of Baisley Boulevard between 167th and 168th Streets in honor of 113th Precinct Officer Disdale Enton, who died in 2002 of a brain aneurism.
The official ceremonies are expected to take place next spring, according to Comrie’s office.
Reach reporter Ivan Pereira by e-mail at [email protected] or by phone at 718-260-4546.