By Sarina Trangle
A Kew Gardens man who suffered from throat cancer used an explosive to end his life in his second-floor flat Monday, police and neighbors said.
Authorities said they believe Alfred Mayo, a former U.S. Marine, placed a device similar to an M-80 firecracker in his mouth around 6:30 p.m., which exploded into part of his head.
The 70-year-old went into cardiac arrest shortly after emergency responders arrived at his apartment near Austin Street and Lefferts Boulevard, a Fire Department spokesman said.
He was pronounced dead at the scene.
Friends and neighbors described Mayo as a neighborhood fixture who spent many hours fixing cars and chatting with passers-by.
Jack Guggenheim said he had known Mayo since the two attended PS 99 together. He said Mayo served in the Marines and had always been tough, even in his fight against throat cancer.
“For him to do this, the pain must have been excruciating. He was a man’s man,” Guggenheim said. “He had a boil on his neck the size of a fist that he neglected … he waited too long and it was too late.”
Despite losing part of a leg in a motorcycle accident decades ago, Mayo, who had a prosthetic leg, was often seen toying with his Jaguar and known as a “master mechanic” willing to lend a hand, Guggenheim said.
“He had an IQ of 140-plus,” Guggenheim said. “He was a kind, generous friend who I shared many good times with.”
Friends said Mayo lived with a woman he had been in a relationship with for several years. She was not injured in the attack, but probably barred from the apartment once it became a crime scene, Muhammed Arif said.
“I saw her yesterday, passing by. They were together a long time,” said Arif, who owns a nearby pharmacy that Mayo frequently visited. “He used to come a lot. On Christmas, New Year’s he’d bring presents for the people who worked here.”
Aaron Adler, who lives across the street from Mayo, said he received many calls from neighbors inquiring about the incident.
“He was really a fixture,” Adler said. “He was always around.”
Adler said he would be saying a few words in honor of Mayo at a Jan. 9 poetry reading at Odradek’s Coffee House, at 82-60 Austin St.
Reach reporter Sarina Trangle at 718-260-4546 or by e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org.