By Bill Parry
Mayor Bill de Blasio wants the city to improve mental health services following accused killer James Patrick Dillon’s bloody rampage in Astoria Sunday.
The 23-year-old Astoria resident struggled with mental illness and was not taking his medications when he went on a 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, according to the NYPD.
“This horrible tragedy over the weekend is not only very painful, but also very complex, because the individual had no history of significant charges,” de Blasio said. “There were some minor criminal offenses, but nothing involving violence. From what we know, this is not someone who would have come up on the radar as a particular threat. He said Dillon’s family “deserved more help to figure out how to handle the problems that young man was having.”
Astoria went on lockdown Sunday afternoon as the NYPD flooded into the neighborhood in a desperate search for Dillon. The attacks began at 11:20 a.m. when Dillon allegedly slashed a woman, 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., said Diane Pizzuti, the commander of Patrol Borough Queens North. Then a 61-year-old homeless 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.
“This has been a very unusual day here in Astoria,” she said.
The officers were taken to Cornell-Presbyterian Hospital, where they were treated and released. The suspect was transported to Elmhurst Hospital Center, where he was listed in critical condition.
As of Wednesday evening, Dillon remained hospitalized and his arraignment was pending, according to the Queens District Attorney’s office.
Meanwhile, the NYPD refuted a report in the New York Post that Dillon might have stabbed a man in Jackson Heights during his Sunday rampage.
Reach reporter Bill Parry by e-mail at bparr