Remembering Dario Paiva

Dario Paiva (left) and Alexander Blenkinsopp, now communications director for the Woodhaven Residents’ Block Association, are shown in this photo taken while they were classmates at St. Thomas the Apostle School.

Monday, July 30, marks two years since the death of Woodhaven resident Dario Paiva.

Dario was fatally stabbed at the 85th Street-Forest Parkway J train station. He was 27 years old.

That tragic evening, Dario was at home, down the block from the station, when his brother called and said he was being beaten up on Jamaica Avenue. Dario ran to his brother’s aid and pursued the group of youths who were responsible. He followed them up the stairs of the elevated subway station, where he was stabbed.

I was at the scene when emergency responders placed Dario’s lifeless body in the ambulance. Only the next day did I discover that the victim of this senseless violence was my former classmate, a friend with whom I had graduated from St. Thomas the Apostle School in 1997.

Many people knew Dario better than I did. It had been a while since I had last seen him. But all my memories of him are fond ones, and I am proud to have been his friend.

I recall Dario as well-liked and very funny. He always had a joke or a smile at the ready. For kids in junior high school, the social pecking order can be important, but Dario seemed to be above the pettiness. He was universally friendly; he didn’t pick and choose who was “cool” enough to enjoy his company. That meant a lot because he was clearly one of the coolest kids in the class— more mature and self-assured than most of his peers.

At Dario’s funeral, I heard stories confirming that he remained the warm, beloved person I remembered. His loss was a real tragedy for his family, his friends, and the Woodhaven community.

Unfortunately, the wheels of justice turn slowly. We are still waiting for those responsible to be held to account.

The accused killer, reportedly a member of the Latin Kings gang, was indicted by a grand jury in December 2010, and has been charged with several crimes, including second-degree murder. The Queens District Attorney’s Office informed the Woodhaven Residents’ Block Association (WRBA) that the case is still in the pre-trial stages.

“I realize that the victim’s family may be frustrated with the pace of the case, but we want to ensure that justice is served for them and the victim,” a spokesperson for the Queens District Attorney wrote in an e-mail to the WRBA.

Justice cannot be rushed. I understand that numerous individuals have labored diligently on this case. I myself saw how hard many police offi- cers were working to gather evidence at the scene of the crime and on the surrounding blocks.

But the two-year mark is an important opportunity to remember Dario and to make clear that we haven’t forgotten what happened. Several accomplices were with the accused killer that evening, yet they have not been charged. Dario’s family still cannot enjoy even the modicum of closure that the criminal justice process should provide.

Right now, our nation is mourning the tragedy that recently occurred at the movie theater in Aurora, Colo.. Many innocent lives were lost, and many others were shattered. Our hearts go out to the victims, their families, and the people of Aurora.

The tragedy in Colorado will be reported on, scrutinized, and grieved over for years to come—and rightly.

Next week, though, let us also take some time to think about Dario Paiva.

Woodhaven remembers what happened two years ago. I have faith that justice will ultimately be done. In the meantime, we wait, and we won’t forget.

Editor’s note: Blenkinsopp is a member of Community Board 9 and director of communications for the Woodhaven Residents’ Block Association. For more information on the WRBA, visit www.woodhaven-nyc.org.

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