Month-long Astoria manhunt ends

Month-long Astoria manhunt ends
By Joe Anuta

The NYPD arrested the 61-year-old Florida man Monday who had been wanted for more than a month after he allegedly struck a police officer with a stolen truck, sparking a wild chase that led to the temporary closure of the Ed Koch-Queensboro Bridge in late August, police said.

Gary Sarback, of Lake Worth, Fla., was cuffed at about 4 p.m. and charged with attempted murder of a police officer, unauthorized use of a vehicle and criminal possession of a weapon in the Aug. 22 incident, the NYPD said.

Just after 4 p.m. on that day, police said Sarback stopped the black pickup truck with Florida plates he was driving near the corner of 79th Street and Ditmars Boulevard, got out, approached a 49-year-old woman and stole her pocketbook.

The woman chased Sarback back to his truck and was temporarily dragged behind the vehicle as Sarback sped off, police said. The woman was not seriously injured.

After police ran the pickup’s license plate, they discovered it had been stolen from the Sunshine State two days earlier with a .38-caliber revolver inside, the NYPD said.

Then just before 9 p.m. that night, officers on patrol saw the truck near the corner of Crescent Street and Broadway in Astoria and attempted to pull Sarback over, police said.

At one point, each officer squeezed off a round, and Sarback stepped on the gas and sped from the scene, hitting one of the officers with the truck in the process, police said. The officers were taken to Cornell Medical Center where they were treated and released.

Ignacio Romero, a manager at the Trade Fair supermarket on the corner, said the police put the 24-hour store on lockdown after the incident.

Sarback ditched the truck near the corner of 24th Street and 37th Avenue, disappearing on foot, although police recovered his cellphone, which led to the Floridian’s identification.

A manhunt was subsequently launched, which included an NYPD helicopter scouring the area and the temporary shutdown of the Ed Koch-Queensboro Bridge.

Rose Mary Marvilli, who lives near where the vehicle was found, said helicopters were searching the residential and industrial area, which boasts lots of hidden backyards behind brick row houses.

“You saw searchlights,” she said. “It was so bright.”

Sarback was picked up near the corner of 31st Street and Ditmars Boulevard in Astoria Monday.

Reach reporter Joe Anuta by e-mail at [email protected] or by phone at 718-260-4566.

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