Volume 17, Number 45 | April 1 — 7, 2005

Police Blotter

Fatal fire
For the second time in two weeks, a fire in Masaryk Towers on the Lower East Side on Friday morning March 25 ended in the death of a resident, police and fire officials said.

Seamus Barr, 31, was found unconscious in the living room of his apartment on the 13th floor of 87 Columbia St. by firefighters who responded to the alarm at 8:50 a.m., a Fire Department spokesperson said. Barr was taken to Beth Israel Hospital where he was declared dead. The victim’s dog was also found dead in the apartment.

The alarm brought 20 companies with 80 firefighters to the fire, which was brought under control by 9:27 a.m. Two firefighters were taken to Bellevue Hospital for smoke inhalation injuries. The fire was not suspicious, a spokesperson said.

On March 16, Lun Bao Zhang, 44, a resident of the top floor of the 21-story building, shot his 19-year-old son to death and ignited a gas explosion and fire in which he and a niece also died. Zhang’s wife and a nephew were also shot and wounded but escaped from the apartment before the explosion.

Seaport shooting
Three strangers held up a man who was walking on Fulton St. to his job in the South St. Seaport during the early hours of Friday March 25, and then shot him at the corner of Fulton and Gold Sts. when he ran from them, police said.

The victim, Martin Sanchez, 44, told police he was walking from the Fulton St. subway station to his job in a café on Peck Slip at about 4:45 a.m. when a man speaking English and Spanish stopped him and demanded money. Sanchez said he told the man he had no money and started to walk away but ran when two other men appeared at the corner of Gold and Fulton Sts. and threatened him.

One of the three men fired a shot that hit the victim in the back. Sanchez said he screamed for help but was ignored by a worker in a flower shop across Fulton St. and by patrons in a nearby McDonald’s, according to the Daily News. The victim managed to stagger to his job at Harbour Café where a colleague phoned 911 for an ambulance, police said.

Sanchez, a Mexican immigrant who lives in Brooklyn with his wife and five-year-old son, was taken to Bellevue Hospital where he was said to be stable after surgery.

Police are searching for three suspects.

Arrest in 1986 murder
Detectives from the cold case squad went to Los Angeles last week and arrested a suspect on Tues. March 22 for the murder nearly 19 years earlier of a single mother who was left bleeding from a gunshot wound in the head in the rear of 45 Rutgers St. at Madison St., in the Rutgers Houses, police said.

The suspect, Norman Dennis, a former boyfriend of the victim, Sharon Copeland, fled after the March 26, 1986 shooting and was traced to Gardena, Calif. a Los Angeles suburb, after a fingerprint match was made recently linking him to Norman Kearse who had been arrested in 1993 in California.

Police said last week that the suspect known as Kearse acknowledged that he was Dennis, now 48.

Copeland, who was 25 when she was killed, was raising a five-year-old son and had just moved back to her mother’s apartment in the Rutgers Houses after a relationship with Dennis went bad, according to a New York Times report. She was shot at 9:45 a.m. after refusing to give money to her former boyfriend, police said.

Police reopened the case in 1997 when they tried to match fingerprints from the crime through the Federal Bureau of Investigation. The match finally came through earlier this month.

The victim’s mother, Sarah Copeland, still lives in the Rutgers Houses and the victim’s son, now 24, lives outside the city.

Assault arrest
Police arrested a suspect and charged him with punching and attempting to rob a teenager on the corner of Chambers and West Sts. across from Stuyvesant High School at 12:45 p.m. Tues. March 22. The victim told police that he refused an offer to buy drugs and tried to walk away from the suspect who grabbed him, told him not to walk away, started punching him in the face and said, “Give me your money.” Police apprehended Ashfak Uddin, 17, and charged him with assault and robbery.

Shoplift arrest
Two men entered the Duane Reade store at Broadway and Duane St. (a block away from Reade St.) at about 2 p.m. Fri., March 18 and tried to walk out with film and hair care products, police said. A store security guard apprehended one of them who punched him in the face but the other fled, police said. Tyron Ballard was charged with assault and grand larceny.

Handbag picked
A patron in Dee Dee discount store, 97 Chambers St. near Church St., left her handbag on her shopping cart for a moment to look at some clothes at about 4:30 p.m. Fri. March 18 and discovered the bag missing when she turned back to it, police said. The woman found the bag tucked in a rack of clothes, but $320, credit cards and personal documents were gone.

90 West St. theft
Thieves made off with a pipe-threading machine valued at $2,500 sometime on the weekend of March 19-20 from 90 West St., the landmark Cass Gilbert office tower being converted into apartments, police said. The machine had been chained to the construction crew’s toolbox, police said.

The 22-story building, erected in 1907 at Cedar and West Sts., was severely damaged in the terrorist attack on Sept. 11, 2001. The owners, Brack Capital Real Estate with The Kibel Companies and the partnership of Richard Born and Ira Druckier, expect to re-open the building this spring.

Locker room theft
A building employee at 60 Wall St. came to work on Wednesday morning March 19 and found the lock on his locker had been cut and $300 in cash was gone along with credit cards and personal papers, police said.

Computer swipe
An unknown thief walked into a coffee shop at 107 W. Broadway at the corner of Reade St. about 8:30 a.m. Sat. March 19 and walked out with a computer and a printer valued at $6,000 that were near the door, police said.

B.M.C.C. thefts
A woman who works in the cafeteria of the Borough of Manhattan Community College, 199 Chambers St., told police that her credit cards, driver’s license and other personal documents were stolen from her computer workstation sometime before 4:30 p.m. Sat. Feb. 26. A B.M.C.C. student told police that her bag with credit cards, driver’s license and other documents was stolen at about 7:30 p.m. Tues. March 15 from a table in the library where she had left it for a moment.

Landmark crime
The foreman of a construction crew at 11 Worth St. told police at 7:30 a.m. Tues. March 22 that a thief or thieves had cut the lock of the crew’s tool box in the basement of the building and made off with tools valued at $5,000. The burglars apparently climbed the construction scaffold, entered an unlocked second floor window, made their way to the basement and came out with the tools the same way, police said.

Money transfer indictment
A grand jury last week indicted a Vietnamese couple and their company, Vietnam Services, Inc., 401 Broadway at Walker St., for moving nearly $25 million in U.S. money over the past three years to Vietnam without a license.

The couple, Larry Vu, 41, and Maria Vu, 38, and the firm were charged with three counts of operating an unlicensed money transmitter, according to the office of District Attorney Robert Morgenthau. The company and Larry Vu were also charged with three counts of falsifying business records.

“Unlicensed money transmitters provide an open window for the proceeds of illegal activities, including narcotics proceeds and financing for terrorism,” Morgenthau said in a statement. The defendants were charged only in connection with the illegal transfers. They operated a web of out-of-state subagents from whom they collected funds for transmitting to Vietnam without regulatory scrutiny, the indictment says. The District Attorney’s office has also moved to freeze more than $10 million of the defendants’ assets.

—Albert Amateau

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