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BB gun incident scares parents at Ditmars Park

Photo by Christina Santucci
By Rich Bockmann and Karen Frantz

A Queens man who allegedly let his 5-year-old daughter run around Ditmars Park with an illegal BB gun was arraigned on charges of reckless endangerment last Friday, the district attorney said, and an Astoria legislator said the father made the situation worse by allegedly resisting arrest.

“It should have resulted, I believe, in an arrest and a slap on the wrist,” said City Councilman Peter Vallone Jr. (D-Astoria). “But apparently he resisted arrest and now I’m not sure what’s going to happen.”

With his two young children in tow, 54-year-old Zbigniew Pawlowski allegedly brought two BB guns to Ditmars Park around 11:30 a.m. May 7, loaded the guns with plastic pellets and began shooting them at a tree, according to Queens DA Richard Brown.

Pawlowski then allegedly handed the BB guns to his children and let them fire off a few shots at various points around the park, Brown said, adding the 5-year-old daughter waved the gun around at other children.

Brown said that when police found Pawlowski and tried to put handcuffs on him, he flailed his arms in an attempt to keep from being arrested.

Pawlowski was charged with violating city administrative code AC 10-131, which bans the sale or possession of air pistols, as well as reckless endangerment, endangering the welfare of a child and resisting arrest, according to a statement from the district attorney.

Brown said the Astoria dad faces up to seven years in jail if convicted.

Vallone said that several parents called his office while the incident was occurring to complain, and he called the police to alert them.

“The mothers were very frightened because this gun was very realistic,” he said.

At least one woman complained on Vallone’s Facebook page that the police took two hours to arrive, but the councilman said the delay was so long because, while a call had been placed to 311, no one had called 911.

“If you want a quick response, you’ve got to call 911,” he said.

About 10 minutes after his office called the police, an officer arrived at the park, Vallone said.

He said some people have argued that the incident is not serious.

“I understand that we all used to play with guns growing up, but unfortunately in the age of terrorism and Sandy Hook, we have to be much more careful,” he said.

Brown also said illegal firearms of any kind are a serious threat to public safety.

“By allowing a 5-year-old child to play with the loaded BB gun as if it was just a toy, the defendant is accused of recklessly endangering lives by creating a scenario that could have led to serious injury not just to his own children but innocent others who may have come in contact with the weapon,” he said.

Reach reporter Rich Bockmann by e-mail at rbockmann@cnglocal.com or by phone at 718-260-4574.

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