By Joe Anuta
While Queens residents were dealing with record devastation to homes and businesses, the Queens district attorney said more than a dozen people took advantage of Monday night’s superstorm and allegedly looted stores in Far Rockaway.
“The Queens district attorney’s office, the NYPD and Mayor Michael Bloomberg have zero tolerance for looters who would exploit a natural disaster like Hurricane Sandy for their own personal gain,” said District Attorney Richard Brown. “Having personally viewed yesterday the devastation that encompasses the Rockaway peninsula and other areas of Queens, I want to make it clear that such lawlessness will be vigorously prosecuted by my office and that we will seek appropriate punishment.”
The alleged looters hit a liquor store, clothing stores, a Radio Shack and gas stations in the neighborhood, which was inundated by the record storm surge and power outages.
City Councilman James Sanders Jr. (D-Laurelton) witnessed some of the looting and said the NYPD did not have enough officers in the area.
The councilman had requested the National Guard to come watch over the area, but added that the city had told him the NYPD could handle the crime.
“The mayor assures me he has enough police power to do the job,” he said. “I have not seen many police out there touring. I have simply not seen them.”
Officers did arrest several people as the storm subsided Tuesday, and the suspects were then arraigned by the DA.
Four were charged with stealing from a Radio Shack, at 87-09 Rockaway Beach Blvd., between 9 and 10:30 a.m. yesterday, according to the DA.
Catherine Atkins, 19, of 260 Beach 81st St.; Donnell Wimms, 43, of 353 Beach 43rd St.; Gregory Gittens, 25, of 84-10 Rockaway Beach Blvd.; and Anthony Felder, 27, of 1704 Randall Ave. in the Bronx were charged with burglary, the DA said.
Atkins was also charged with possession of stolen property, Felder with resisting arrest and Wimms with second-degree assault and resisting arrest, according to Brown.
A pair of Queens residents were charged with burglary and possession of stolen property for allegedly knocking over a liquor store.
At about 2:30 p.m. yesterday, Donald Spellman, 22, of 81-10 Rockaway Beach Blvd., and Luis Bonilla, 20, of 81-05 Hammels Blvd., allegedly burglarized Rock Jetty Wine and Spirits, at 97-08 Rockaway Beach Blvd., according to the DA. Spellman is also charged with assault and resisting arrest after he allegedly attacked a responding police officer.
Several Rockaway residents were charged with trying to pick up free duds.
At about 11:40 a.m. yesterday, Dwight Jones, 23, of 82-03 Rockaway Beach Blvd., and Terrance Smalls, 22, of 76-00 Shore Front Pkwy., allegedly broke into a clothing store and were charged with burglary, the DA said.
The other alleged sartorial shoplifter was Michael Pike, 21, of 85-15 Rockaway Beach Blvd., who was charged with burglary, theft and possession of stolen property after he stole a pair of boots from a clothing store, near the corner of Beach 86th Street and Rockaway Beach Boulevard, at about 1 p.m. yesterday, the DA said.
Another Rockaway duo allegedly robbed 57 Food Market, at 57-25 Shorefront Pkwy., according to the DA.
Jimmy Gumbs, 42, of 113 Beach 56th Place, and DaShawn Peay, 16, of 138 Beach 59th St., were charged with burglary, resisting arrest and criminal trespass after allegedly breaking into the food emporium around 10 a.m. yesterday.
Four Queens residents were charged with breaking into gas stations, Brown said.
At about 5 a.m. yesterday, Joshua Harris, 23, and Jordan Mohammad, 31, both of 30-08 Beach Channel Drive, allegedly broke into a Gulf gas station, also on Beach Channel Drive. They were both charged with burglary, criminal mischief and resisting arrest, according to the DA.
Malcolm Wise, 16, of 54-81 Almeda Ave., and Roosevelt Patterson, 49, of 407 Beach 37th St., allegedly burglarized a Beach Channel Drive gas station at around 9 a.m. yesterday, according to the DA.
They were both charged with burglary, though Patterson was also charged with criminal possession of a weapon after officers found a billy club in his pocket.
Reach reporter Joe Anuta by e-mail at email@example.com or by phone at 718-260-4566.