Year in Review: Queens’ top stories from April 2021

QNS is looking back at the top stories throughout 2021. Here are the top stories from the month of April.

As we look forward to 2022, QNS is looking back at the top stories throughout 2021.

Below are the top stories from the month of April, which include new chain stores opening in the borough for the first time, the infamous Whitestone “Wolverine” indictment and the tragic passing of a high-ranking NYPD official, among others.

New chain stores open in Queens

Lidl floral section at new store in Astoria (Photo courtesy of Lidl)

Lidl, a discount grocery store, opened its first location in Queens on April 7, in Astoria.

The new store is located at 19-30 37th St. The grocer, which originated in Germany and now operates about 11,200 stores in 32 countries with headquarters in Virginia, is known for its low prices and high-quality products.

Queens Borough President Donovan Richards joined store workers in their grand opening ceremony.

“With the recent economic downturn hitting Queens especially hard, we are thrilled about the opening of Lidl discount grocery in Astoria and are excited that the store will offer good-paying jobs that start at $17 an hour,” Richards said.

At Home, a major national home goods store, opened its first New York City location at the Rego Center mall on April 21.

At Home furniture store opened at Rego Center (Photo courtesy of At Home)

The new store is located on the second floor of the mall, located at 61-35 Junction Blvd. in Rego Park. The Texas-based retail chain store, with more than 200 locations across the country, is known for its unique take on home decor.

Whitestone ‘Wolverine’ indicted on attempted murder charges after threatening BLM demonstrators

Frank Cavalluzzi was indicted on nine counts of attempted murder in Queens Criminal Court on Wednesday, April 14, 2021. (Photo via Twitter/lambomursy)

A Flushing man was indicted on April 14 on nine counts of attempted murder after he allegedly threatened to kill a small group of Black Lives Matter protesters with a Wolverine-type weapon in Whitestone in the summer of 2020.

Frank Cavalluzzi, 55, also faces attempted assault, reckless endangerment, reckless driving and criminal possession of a weapon charges for threatening the group of about a dozen racial justice demonstrators in June 2020, according to Queens District Attorney Melinda Katz.

Cavalluzzi faced up to 25 years in prison for each of the nine victims.

High-ranking NYPD official takes his own life near Kissena Park

Deputy Inspector Denis Mullaney (Photo courtesy of NYPD)

The commander of a central Queens police precinct, Deputy Inspector Denis Mullaney, took his own life on April 5 near Kissena Park inside a department-issued vehicle, according to published reports. The 44-year-old headed the 107th Precinct, which covers parts of Flushing, Fresh Meadows, Pomonok, Hillcrest and Jamaica.

Mullaney was reportedly found with a self-inflicted gunshot wound inside a vehicle at the corner of Underhill Avenue and 164th Street, near Kissena Park, in Flushing.

EMS units rushed Mullaney to a local hospital, but he was pronounced dead a short time later. A candlelight vigil was held on Mullaney’s honor later that week.

“Devastated to learn of the tragic loss of Deputy Inspector Denis Mullaney who was just welcomed as Commanding Officer of the [107th Precinct] not long ago,” Assemblywoman Nily Rozic wrote on Twitter.

Mullaney’s death is believed to be the first active-duty suicide of an NYPD member in 2021. The department saw 10 suicides within its ranks in 2019, and was racked by the COVID-19 pandemic — with more than four dozen civilian and uniformed members losing their lives to the virus.

St. Francis Prep leads Queens, Brooklyn in child sex abuse lawsuits

St. Francis Preparatory School in Fresh Meadows (File photo from REUTERS/Shannon Stapleton)

More child sex abuse lawsuits were filed against St. Francis Preparatory School in Fresh Meadows than any other Catholic school in the Diocese of Brooklyn since the passage of the state’s Child Victims Act in 2019 through the end of 2020, according to a recent analysis.

In the past two years, nearly 600 child sex abuse lawsuits have been filed against the diocese, which covers Brooklyn and Queens.

The institutions with the most lawsuits are predominantly in Queens, including St. Francis Prep, which counts 21 lawsuits against nine perpetrators for abuse that allegedly happened between 1959 and 2001.

In response to the report, diocese spokesman John Quaglione said the Diocese of Brooklyn “takes each of these complaints seriously and cooperates fully with any and all law enforcement investigations.”

“Most of these allegations are from decades ago, which does not negate the fact that the accused has the right to due process under the law,” Quaglione said. “We pray for all victims of sexual abuse that they may be able to further heal and be strengthened by God’s love for them.”