By Naeisha Rose
A rally was held last weekend in Ozone Park just days after a woman was allegedly assaulted and robbed by a homeless man from a shelter a few towns over in Brooklyn, according to the Ozone Park Residents Block Association President Sam Esposito.
The rally was held Oct. 6 at St. Elizabeth’s Catholic Academy — located at 94-01 85th St. — just five days after the unnamed victim, a mother of two, was going to pick one child up from school while she had another beside her when she was attacked, according to Esposito.
This assault is one of many reasons that residents and the block association president does not want a homeless another shelter with men who are mentally ill in the community. A new shelter is expected to open this winter at 85-01 101st Ave. in Ozone Park.
The incident took place at 94-20 84th St. Oct. 1 at 2 p.m. in Ozone Park, and the suspect was said to have allegedly approached the unnamed victim in front of her child, he demanded her bag and punched her in the face several times until she fell to the ground, according to the NYPD.
The suspect was Derrick Chirse, 57, of the Salvation Army’s Kingsboro Men’s Shelter located at 599 Clarkson Ave. in East Flatbush, Brooklyn, according to the NYPD.
The woman had just picked up her son from St. Elizabeth’s, and was one block away from her second child’s school, according to Esposito.
“We are fighting against the placement of 113 unsupervised mentally ill men in that location,” said Esposito.
Esposito says that the residents aren’t against helping those in need, but that the shelter that is set to open later this year could bring the same problems when it has mentally ill men who are free to go and come as they please during certain hours of the day and that the center doesn’t have a mental health facility to meet the possible future residents’ needs.
“We are not fighting the shelter, we are fighting the clientele,” said Esposito, who wouldn’t oppose a shelter for women and children. “Something that blends with the makeup of the community [would be better], but the fact that there are five schools and two academies directly in the path of the shelter [is a problem].”
Near the proposed Ozone Park shelter site is PS 64, JHS 210, PS 36, Divine Mercy, St. Mary Gate of Heaven School, Queens Explorers Elementary School, and Khan’s Tutorial, according to Esposito.
The woman who was assaulted was so traumatized that she didn’t attend the rally, which was had nearly two-dozen people there to offer their support with a bouquet of flowers, Esposito said. She also took one child out of school and it has been rumored that she intends to leave the community altogether, according to the block association president.
“She actually took her child out of [St. Mary Gate of Heaven],” Esposito said. “I believe they have moved out of the community, but I can’t verify that. The woman was very traumatized, I don’t know about the other child, but the woman does not want to talk to anybody.”
One proposal by Ozone Park residents is to have the mentally ill men placed at the Trump Pavilion rehab center at Jamaica Hospital, according to Esposito since the proposed shelter does not have a mental health facility within it.
“We are not doctors, but we can only suggest that the best location could be the Trump Pavilion in Jamaica Hospital,” said Esposito. “It is right next to the hospital, there are services for them — mentally ill services — and there are doctors, and medication.”
A second rally was expected to be held Oct. 12 at 3 p.m. on Drew Street between Liberty and 101st Avenues following a second incident on Monday, when an alleged homeless man assaulted a man at an Ozone Park Laundromat near the rally site, according to Esposito.
Reach reporter Naeisha Rose by e-mail at nrose