Dozens of local residents gathered across from the site of a proposed homeless shelter in Ozone Park on Oct. 12 to protest its opening after a second homeless individual allegedly attacked another person in the area.
Construction proceeded at the 101st Avenue site and local schoolchildren passed by during the rally, held this time by the Bangladeshi American Community Development & Youth Services (BADCYS) and sponsored by state Assemblyman Mike Miller and the Ozone Park Residents Block Association, led by its president, Sam Esposito.
Showing up at the rally with bruises circling his eye was the victim of the attack, Shamim Ahmed, 45, of Ozone Park. The incident took place on Oct. 8 at approximately 11:29 p.m. at the Superclean Laundromat, located at 74-02 101st Ave., according to a police report.
“Monday at midnight I was doing laundry with my wife,” said Ahmed, and moments later the suspect, Paul Gaspard, 39, of Jamaica, allegedly started to curse him out, according to the victim.
“’Why do you do this?’” Ahmed recalled saying to Gaspard. Moments later, Gaspard struck him in the face, and as the victim tried to defend himself, his wife tried to break up the fight. The suspect then pushed her down for her interference, according to the victim.
“I said that I was going to call the police,” said Ahmed. “His behavior is no good,” added the Bengali immigrant, who also said that Gaspard spat on him.
The attack left Ahmed with minor facial injuries; cops quickly caught up to and arrested Gaspard, who was also said to have a small amount of marijuana in his possession.
Following the assault, Ahmed is opposed to the idea of a homeless shelter that is being erected for 113 mentally ill individuals at 81-15 101st Ave., which is seven blocks away from where he was assaulted.
He was supported by fellow members of the Bengali community who came out to support him during the rally in front of Khan Tutorial, a Muslim Academy at 86-01 101st Ave.
“I don’t think our community is sufficient enough to support this,” said Ahmed. “It’s near schools and families … it should be moved some other place for the betterment of the community.”
Esposito and Misba Abdin, the founder of BADCYS, are not opposed to a shelter within the community, but believe it should be one that fits the character of the area and that mentally ill folks should have a facility that supports their needs.
Congresswoman Nydia Velazquez and state Senator Joseph Addabbo agreed.
“We never ever said no as a community to no homeless people here,” said Addabbo. “We will do our share … give us women, domestic violence victims, give us seniors, or give us veterans and we would accept them and welcome them into our community. With the mentally ill, they need a facility where they get the help that they need.”