Laura Picallo and Laura Aguinaga were doing their part as Queens residents by helping to clear the Astoria shoreline of debris this past weekend when they stumbled upon something unexpected.
According to Astoria resident, Picallo, the duo was scouring the “part of the shore that everyone ignores and doesn’t clean up” on April 7 when they discovered a plastic bag with something heavy inside.
Picallo used a garbage picker to lift the bag and thought it may have been filled with rocks. After untying a knot, she found another bag with a gun inside.
“We were just shocked,” she said. “That or a body is probably the worst thing you can find.”
The volunteers kept cleaning after their discovery but soon found a patrol car from the 114th Precinct near the shoreline and flagged them down. The cops thanked the volunteers, took the gun, and left.
It’s not clear what happened to the weapon or who left it there. A spokesperson for the 114th Precinct said he had no information on the incident.
The volunteers were working with the Astoria Park Alliance (APA), a nonprofit that works to “ensure conservation and environmental sustainability” of the park.
According to APA Vice Chair Anthony Liberatoscioli, there were 45 adults and 16 Girl and Boy Scouts working to clean up the shoreline that day. They were split into two teams — shoreline cleanup and garden revitalization. The cleanup group hauled 22 bags of trash and litter from the shore. In addition, a large mound of debris that included lumber, a shopping cart, a bowling ball and car parts were also removed.
There are two volunteer dates scheduled every month and Liberatoscioli said the volunteers have made a big difference in terms of the cleanliness of the shoreline.
“Since we have instituted the monthly schedule for shoreline cleanups, they have started to make a tangible difference in the appearance of the banks of the East River in Astoria Park,” he said. “We couldn’t be more proud of all the hard work accomplished by Laura and the rest of our volunteers.”
Though Picallo’s discovery was “shocking” she said she still wants to encourage people to help clean up the area. The next shoreline cleanup day will take place on May 12 from 2 to 4 p.m.