Tuesday, April 10, 2007

I wanna go back to Stowmarket

Have been having a whirlwind time in NY - it's going to calm down a little this week. Looks like the New Ro police had fun last night...

Chaos in New Rochelle: Train rider saw 'yelling and screaming'

(Original publication: April 9, 2007)
NEW ROCHELLE - More details are expected on last night's downtown pandemonium when the city and owners of New Roc City hold a press conference at 1:30 p.m. today at the entertainment center.

More than 1,000 unruly teenagers, ordered to leave New Roc City, faced off with police in riot gear last night, leading to at least one stabbing, two robberies and six arrests, police said.

"It started out as one large, unruly crowd and then dispersed into several smaller crowds," Capt. Kevin Kealy said. "We just had too many people here at once."

A countywide red alert was issued, with state, Westchester County and more than a dozen local police departments rushing to the scene in riot gear. Witnesses said they heard shots fired, and the New Rochelle police found two discarded handguns in the area, but no related injuries were reported.

"Nobody showed up in any emergency room (with gunshot wounds)," said New Rochelle police Sgt. David Lonergan said today. Six ambulances from nearby jurisduictions were brought in to cover the city, Fire Chief Ray Kiernan said.

A 15-year-old Bronx youth was stabbed in the chest near North and Lockwood avenues and suffered a superficial wound, police said.

James O'Toole, the landlord of a North Avenue apartment building a block from New Roc City said he got calls from frightened tenants while he was working at a bar nearby. He returned to find chaos that forced him to park more than two blocks away.

"It was crazy," said O'Toole, 41. "In my life, I've never seen anything like this, and I hope I never do again....On North and Main streets there were cops all over the place, kids in the street, people yelling, screaming, just a mass humanity, of people."

The wild night struck in the heart of the area where the city is trying to spark a renaissance with several towers under construction or planned. That change in the city's direction began with the opening of New Roc City in 1999. It was built by Louis Cappelli, the developer building the Trump Plaza tower a half block away and a full-block development across the street with two towers that may soar more than 500 feet high.

City boosters today said the weekend's problems will not stall the city's rebirth.

"I think that New Rochelle's renaissance is bigger and broader than a single one-time incident involving a unique circumstance that should not repeat itself," said City Councilman Barry Fertel, an attorney whose office is about two blocks from New Roc City.

Lonergan said the city's fire department alerted police to overcrowding in the arcade section of the entertainment complex.

Fire officials did not ask people to leave, but did prevent anyone else from entering New Roc City, Kiernan said,

Police arrived shortly before 6:30 p.m. and ordered the crowd to leave the outdoor courtyard area at New Roc City at LeCount Place and Anderson Street. When the crowd refused, police armed with nightsticks pushed through the courtyard, sending hundreds of people streaming out in all directions.

Unruly mobs of teens taunted and cursed at officers, then moved out onto North Avenue, overturning trash cans and menacing shop owners. As backup police units from nearly every municipality in the county joined state, county and Metro-North agencies, the crowd converged on the train station, where at least one man was assaulted.

The unconscious man was taken away by ambulance as police wrangled as many people as they could onto a southbound train that arrived shortly before 10:30 p.m.

The disturbance peaked between 8 p.m. and 10 p.m., Kiernan said. "All of a sudden New Rochelle got picked to receive large groups of kids," he said, noting that they were not from New Rochelle.

"It was the largest mobilization of police resources I have ever seen in New Rochelle," Kiernan said.

At the train station, an 18-year-old young man from the Bronx was ticketed for disorderly conduct, Metropolitan Transportation Authorty Police spokeswoman Mercedes Padilla said. It was the only summons or arrest by the MTA police, she said.

Jordan George, a Manhattan resident who was taking the southbound train from Mamaroneck after visiting a relative for the Easter holiday, said he and fellow passengers were terrified when the train pulled into New Rochelle and riot police and teenagers streamed into the car.

"Picture this from my point of view: I've been riding this train for 12 years without any kind of incident, and all of a sudden we pull into a station and hundreds of kids and police in riot gear come flooding in," George said today.

"They was a lot of yelling and screaming going on, and thank God nobody got hurt, but it was right on the edge, I was genuinely frightened for my safety and my girlfriend's safety."

George said that he got off the train at the Fordham stop, where about 50 New York City Police Department officers were on the platform awaiting the crowd. George and his girlfriend made their way to the street and took a cab to his home in Gramercy Park.

New Rochelle police are continuing the investigation, Lonergan said.

"This was unusual for us. We're not exactly sure what happened," he said. "There were a lot of people apparently coming in from the Bronx. I don't know what the problem was, or why they were all up here."

Several witnesses in the crowd said the teens had come to New Rochelle from New York City after being denied admission to the New York International Automobile Show at the Jacob Javits Center, although a Javits Center spokesman could not confirm that today.

1 comment:

Jamie said...

Hell of a welcome back, huh?

It makes me ill that this is what our hometown has turned into...ugh. I can't wait to pack my bags for the Southland permanently.