By Ivan Pereira
The family of slain 113th Precinct Officer John G. Scarangella marked the 30th anniversary of their patriarch’s death by making sure his years of service in the southeast Queens community will be remembered for generations.
Dozens of officers gathered outside the South Jamaica station house Sunday afternoon as the city officially renamed Baisley Boulevard between 167th and 168th streets to “Officer John Scarangella Way.”
The 42-year-old father of four died May 1, 1981, from gunshot wounds he sustained while investigating burglaries that were going on in the area.
Thomas Scarangella, the officer’s eldest son who works for the Port Authority police, said the renaming ceremony was special for him and his family because they had been working for years to have the renaming become a reality.
“It was a great day,” he said. “It was good, It was overwhelming and it was happy.”
Thomas Scarangella, 37; his mother Vivian, a breast cancer survivor; his older sister; his twin sister; his younger brother and their children were among the dozens of family members who came out in the warm weather for the unveiling. John Scarangella’s NYPD family were also on hand as dozens of officers from not only the 113th Precinct came out but also current and retired members of the city’s Finest who were touched by his story.
On April 16, 1981, John Scarangella and his partner, Richard Rainey, found a van that was linked to burglaries in southeast Queens. When the officers got out of their vehicle, James Dixon-York and Anthony Laborde exited the van and fired 30 shots with semi-automatic pistols.
John Scarangella was shot twice in the head while Rainey survived 14 shots to his leg and back. John Scarangella died from his injuries two weeks later.
Rainey was forced to retire from the force because of his injuries.
The suspects, who were members of the Black Liberation Army, fled the state but were eventually arrested, extradited and convicted of the officer’s murder. They were sentenced to 25 years to life in prison in 1986.
Police Benevolent Association President Patrick Lynch, who spoke at the ceremony, said their bravery went a long way to keep the streets safe.
“This was a long time coming, but you can see how police officers and our supporters don’t forget, even though it’s so many years,” he said, the New York Post reported.
Thomas Scarangella said he was humbled by the turnout, especially from the number of officers who came to the station on their day off.
“We were happy so many cops throughout the city showed up,” he said. “It was definitely nice and it was good to see all of them.”
The street renaming took a long time because of opposition from Community Board 12, which has had a controversial stance on renaming streets for people who did not live in the southeast Queens community.
The issue was rectified in the winter when Councilman Leroy Comrie (D-St. Albans) stepped in and put Scarangella’s name on a list for street renaming in a Council bill.
“They had felt pain for so many years and this would help them to heal,” the councilman said.
Thomas Scarangella said the renaming would help residents remember the work the men and women of the NYPD do to help them live safe lives.
“We want people to remember what he did with his life. We want every community to know what police officers go through with his life,” he said.
Reach reporter Ivan Pereira by e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org or by phone at 718-260-4546.