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Astoria man in custody after Sunday crime spree

By Bill Parry

Astoria went on lockdown Sunday afternoon as the NYPD flooded into the neighborhood in a desperate search for a killer.

James Patrick Dillon, 23, was taken out by two officers from the elite anti-terror Critical Response Command but not before his nearly six-hour crime spree left one man dead, another set on fire, one woman slashed in the face and head, and the two police officers hospitalized with burns from a caustic liquid.

“This has been a very unusual day here in Astoria,” said Chief Diane Pizzuti, head of Queens Borough North.

The carnage began at 11:20 a.m. when Dillon allegedly slashed Berth Carpio, 39, near 25-69 36th St., according to police. Dillon struck again just after 3 p.m. when he allegedly stabbed 55-year-old George Patouhas, a popular figure in the neighborhood, inside his liquor store at 38-18 Astoria Blvd., Pizzuti said. Then a 61-year-old man was sprayed with an accelerant and lit on fire, Pizzuti said.

Patouhas was taken to Mount Sinai Hospital of Queens, where he was pronounced dead while the victim who was set ablaze was taken to Cornell-Presbyterian Hospital in Manhattan, where he was listed in stable condition, according to the NYPD.

The manhunt was on and at one point the Grand Central Parkway was closed down for an evidence search by investigators.

Just after 5 p.m., a woman called 911 and reported a burglary in progress at 30-65 42nd St. The caller told dispatchers that a white man, believed to be the suspect, was fleeing down a fire escape.

The two officers from the Critical Response Team, an inspector and a lieutenant, encountered Dillon at 5:40 p.m. at 25-38 36th St. They demanded he drop a knife and a Corona bottle containing caustic liquid, police said.

When Dillon refused, he allegedly sprayed the two officers with the liquid, causing burns to their faces and hands, the NYPD said. The officers fired their weapons, shooting the suspect, according to Pizzuti,

The officers were taken to Cornell-Presbyterian Hospital in stable condition. The suspect was transported to Elmhurst Hospital Center, where he was listed in critical condition.

“My thoughts are with the brave officers who were injured in this disturbing incident and I extend my hopes for their speedy recovery as well as my sympathies to the victim’s family,” state Sen. Michael Gianaris (D-Astoria) said. “Thankfully, the perpetrator was apprehended and will face justice for his awful crimes.”

Reach reporter Bill Parry by e-mail at bparry@cnglocal.com or by phone at (718) 260–4538.

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