Police Blotter, week of February 29, 2012

BELT SAVES COP  |  One of two police officers who traded gunshots with a suspect in the Baruch Houses on the Lower East Side during the early hours of Mon., Feb.27 escaped serious injury when a bullet was deflected by his gun belt, police said.

The suspect, Luis Martinez, 25, was shot in the leg and fled into his building at 64 Baruch Dr. where he was arrested.

Police Commissioner Raymond Kelly said the 9 mm bullet would have hit the lucky officer, Thomas Richards, 36, if the spare ammunition magazine on his gun belt hadn’t deflected it.

Richards and his partner, Thomas Dunne, were in a police van parked on Columbia St. around 1:30 a.m. when they saw Martinez acting suspiciously in the street. They approached him but he fled a block east to Baruch Dr. where he turned and fired at the officers, police said.

When the bullet hit Richards’ belt, the bullets in the magazine spilled into the street, police said.

The two officers returned fire, hitting Martinez in the leg but he fled into his building. Martinez was arrested in his apartment and taken to Bellevue in stable condition. Richards, uninjured, was also taken to the hospital, examined and released.

A 9 mm Taurus handgun was recovered from the trash compactor in the building and a bag of marijuana was found nearby, police said.

Charges of attempted murder of a police officer and weapons possession are expected to be filed against Martinez this week.

Pabon murder trial
Jury selection began on Mon, Feb. 27 in the first degree murder trial of Joseph Pabon, 28, accused of the brutal murder of Eridania Rodriquez, 45, a member of the night cleaning staff at 2 Rector St. on July 7, 2009.

Pabon, a handyman at 2 Rector St., is charged with gaging the victim with black and yellow tape and taping her hands behind her back, taping her feet and shoving her body into an air vent on the 12th floor of the building were it was found four days later. DNA found under the victim’s fingernails matched Pabon’s DNA, according to the charges.

Witnesses said they saw scratches and bruises on Pabon’s torso, arm and head when he turned up at work on July 8, according to the charges.

Fires on Lower East Side
A fire that erupted around 7:30 a.m. on Thurs., Feb 23 in an eighth floor apartment in 388 Pearl St. in the Alfred E. Smith Houses injured six people including two firefighters, an FDNY spokesperson said. The injured were taken to New York Downtown Hospital where they were treated and released.

Firefighters rescued five people from apartment 8B, two of them via an aerial ladder. The two-alarm fire, which brought 20 companies and about 80 firefighters to the scene near the Brooklyn Bridge, was under control by 8:15 a.m.

A fire that broke out around 1 a.m. Fri., Feb. 24 in a first-floor apartment at 475 FDR Dr. south of Delancey St., was brought under control a half hour later, according to an FDNY spokesperson. A resident sustained minor injuries but was not hospitalized.

Fire in a fifth floor apartment at 39 Eldridge St. at 3:40 a.m. Thurs., Feb 16 resulted in minor injuries to 10 firefighters, an FDNY spokesperson said.

WTC construction accident
A load of steel I-beams crashed 40 stories onto a flatbed truck Thursday morning Feb. 16 from a tower crane lifting the load at the Four World Trade Center site at Church and Cortlandt Sts, officials said. No one was injured. Workers estimated the load weighed between 15 and 20 tons.

Suffolk St. burglary
A burglary who made his way into a Suffolk St. apartment on Friday afternoon Feb. 10 while the residents were out made off with jewelry and electronic appliances, police said.

Old wine in new bottles
Police arrested Pedro Aguilar, 75, on Mon. Feb.13 and charged him with stealing three cases of wine on at least two occasions from One Mile House at 10 Delancey St. at Bowery. Police said the suspect got into the bar’s wine cellar between 8 and 9:45 a.m. the previous week. He was identified on a surveillance tape, according to the Manhattan District Attorney.

Subway death
Michael Ice, 22, of Rye, was killed at 5:49 a.m. Sat., Feb. 25 when a No. 6 train struck him on the southbound track at the Spring St. subway station, police said. No criminality was suspected.

— Albert Amateau