Year in Review: Queens’ top stories from July 2021

Scenes from the Queens Night Market opening weekend (Photo by Sharon Medina)

As 2021 comes to an end, QNS has compiled a list of the biggest stories, events and people of Queens that grabbed our attention this year.

Here’s a look back at the top stories for the month of July.

Queens Night Market reopens to the public

The Queens Night Market at Flushing Meadows Corona Park opened in July with free and open entry to the public.

Queens Night Market will host a Halloween event on Saturday, Oct. 30. (Photo by Sarah Choi)

In June, the open-air market returned for its sixth season at reduced capacity for its first three weekends and required that patrons purchase tickets in advance or at the door. The event pledged 20% of net ticket proceeds to initiatives promoting racial equity and to COVID-19 relief and recovery efforts. In three weeks, the pledge yielded nearly $10,000. 

On its opening night, Queens Borough President Donovan Richards issued a proclamation declaring June 19 “Queens Night Market Day.” Over the first five seasons, the market welcomed over 1 million visitors, helped launch over 300 new businesses in New York and represented over 90 countries through its diverse vendors and their food.

Maspeth High School principal investigated for grade fraud scandal 

Maspeth High School is located at 54-40 74th St. (Screenshot via Google Maps)

The city’s Department of Education (DOE) in July removed Maspeth High School’s principal after substantiating claims of his involvement in a grade fraud scandal.

Principal Khurshid Abdul-Mutakabbir was accused of changing incomplete grades to passing grades and awarding undeserved credits to students. Following the DOE’s investigation, Mutakabbir was served with disciplinary charges and removed from payroll while the department pursued his termination pursuant to state law. 

Councilman Robert Holden, who had brought the scandal to light two years ago, criticized the DOE for moving slowly on investigations.  

“It has taken far too long, because neither the administration nor the DOE was in any hurry to investigate. I brought this disgrace to the attention of the chancellor and mayor directly and there was no action taken,” Holden said. 

Queens eateries participate in New York Restaurant Week 

Photo courtesy of Adda Indian Canteen

New York Restaurant Week returned in July with 31 participating businesses in Queens.

NYC Restaurant Week is a semi-annual program that celebrates the city’s world-famous dining scene in which participating restaurants offer prix-fixe lunches and dinners.

The event was held from July 19 through Aug. 22. Restaurants had charged $21 or $39 for lunch or dinner, which includes an entree or one side. Select restaurants also offered Signature Dining Experiences with three or more courses for $125.

Amid the pandemic, restaurants had both indoor and outdoor dining available, as well as options to order carry out and delivery.

Two teens arrested for beating man in Middle Village: NYPD

Police arrested two teens for beating up a man at Juniper Valley Park last weekend. (Photo courtesy of NYPD)

Two teenage boys were arrested on gang assault charges for violently beating a 44-year-old man at Juniper Valley Park in July.

The 14-year-old and 15-year-old were charged after their parents brought them to the 104th Precinct station in Ridgewood.

While the man was out walking his dog, he saw a group of kids lighting fireworks and confronted the group over the noise, which led to a violent beating. According to police, the man was able to get away and only had cuts and bruises.

Following the incident, Councilman Robert Holden had demanded immediate action from the NYPD and Parks Department.

Construction of new UBS Arena in Elmont is in its final stretch

The exterior design with red bricks, intricate tiles and arches is based on “old New York.” (Photo by Gabriele Holtermann)

The newly constructed $1.1 billion UBS Arena, located at Belmont Park in Elmont, was nearing completion in July in time for the Islanders’ 2021-2022 NHL season.

The 19,000-seat, state-of-the-art venue, developed in partnership with Oak View Group (OVG), the New York Islanders and Sterling Project Development (SPD), is also a world-class home for the more than 150 concerts and festivals the arena plans to host every year.

A view of USB arena and the music stage. (Photo by Gabriele Holtermann)

The arena’s design is inspired by iconic New York landmarks, including Central Park, Ebbets Field, Grand Central Terminal, Park Avenue Armory and the Prospect Park Boathouse. There are two outdoor terraces open to all guests, eight bars with a full view of the action on the ice, and more restrooms per person than any area in Metro New York.

Far Rockaway ring of drug dealers, gun traffickers swept up in raid: DA

Photo via Getty Images

A network of drug dealers and gun traffickers were busted during a morning raid at the Redfern Houses in Far Rockaway in July. 

A group of 21 defendants were indicted by a Queens grand jury and were charged in five different indictments with allegedly running and/or possessing guns and dealing drugs in the Redfern Houses and surrounding neighborhoods between November 2019 and March 2021, according to Queens District Attorney Melinda Katz. 

Police had recovered firearms, cocaine, heroin, heroin laced with fentanyl and other illicit drugs during the operation.

Utilizing surveillance techniques, undercover buys and other investigative tools, the district attorney’s Violent Criminal Enterprise Bureau, working in conjunction with the Gun Recidivist Investigation Program, conducted a long-term investigation to uncover gun running and illicit narcotic sales in Queens. 

Off-duty police officer arrested in Queens over parking spot dispute

Photo via Getty Images

An off-duty NYPD officer was arrested over a parking dispute in Queens, according to authorities. 

According to police, Aaron Cooper got into a dispute with another man over a parking spot. Cooper then allegedly started to insult the victim, causing the victim to be alarmed, before pulling out a small black firearm from his front pocket.

Cooper then allegedly held the gun to his side and walked back to his car. The victim, fearing for his safety, then notified the police.

Cooper was taken into custody and charged with criminal possession of a weapon, menacing, criminal mischief and harassment.

Cops arrest suspect for brazen kidnapping attempt in Richmond Hill

Police are searching for this man suspected of driving a getaway car in an attempted kidnapping in Richmond Hill Thursday. (Photo courtesy of NYPD)

A quick-thinking mom rescued her 5-year-old son from an attempted kidnapping in Richmond Hill when a driver jumped out of the car and sprinted toward the sidewalk, where he grabbed the boy and threw him into the car.

The young boy’s mother, with the help of her two children, pulled the boy through the open front passenger window.

Police had identified the suspect as 24-year-old James McGonagle who was arrested and charged with attempted kidnapping, reckless endangerment and acting in a manner injurious to a child less than 17.