Written by Rich Forestano Wednesday, 21 August 2013 00:00
Joe Owens has lived in New Hyde Park for 50 years. He’s seen the area transform over the last few decades, but despite the recent home burglary on Campbell Street that saw a Nassau County Police officer shot in the hip in New Hyde Park, Owens believes the quiet close-knit nature of the neighborhood will not change.
Third Precinct officer Mohit Arora, 32, was hit by a 9mm slug at 1:50 a.m. on Wednesday, Aug. 14 while responding to 911 call, according to police. He was taken to a local hospital for surgery and police said he’s expected to make a full recovery.
Authorities arrested Cong Xu, 21, and Renhang Qiu, 22, of Brooklyn after a foot and air pursuit that streaked through surrounding streets, police said. Neighboring blocks were cordoned off into the early afternoon last Wednesday. Checkpoints were seen as far south as Evergreen Avenue near Lakeville Road.
County police feel the Campbell Street home was targeted, but would not reveal a reason. A police spokeswoman said Arora joined Nassau County Police from the NYPD in 2007.
“Since it’s an ongoing investigation, we are not releasing any new information at this time concerning the incident on Campbell Street,” the spokeswoman said.
Owens heard shots, which sounded like firecrackers from his Nugent Street home. At first, he brushed it off as local kids “horsing around.”
“I heard what sounded like multiple fireworks,” he said. “Bang! Bang! Bang! Bang! Bang!”
Owens heard shouting, but cannot remember if the cries were orders from police or residents nearby. Then, more shots. Xu was apprehended on Owens’ block, according to police.
“Later on, the police were going up and down the street,” Owens said. “I could see them from my bedroom window. A rumbling sound over my head sounded like an earthquake, but it was a helicopter.”
Spotlights from police cars canvassed the area, said Owens. He was happy to hear Arora was stable.
“They were everywhere,” he said. “The realization that something was up was immediate. The helicopters did not go away. They stayed around for a long time. We have a great team at the Third [Precinct].”
While Owens commended Nassau County police for its response, he feels more oversight is needed, like a community watch.
“We need a security blanket,” he said. “The people that live in this neighborhood should band together even more so if they see or hear something, they’ll react right away.”
Mike and Tom Li of Lahey Street heard the commotion almost immediately. Mike, 56, awoke Wednesday morning to thundering overhead and “crackling noises” outside. He stepped out onto the street and was met with a blinding light. “A police officer shined his flashlight in my face and yelled ‘You live here?’” I told him ‘yes,’ and I pointed to the house,” Li said. “He told me to go back and stay inside.”
Li is a real estate broker and has sold homes on Campbell Street. He moved to New Hyde Park 12 years ago.
“All I heard was how safe it was,” Mike said. “I still feel safe, even though [a cop] was shot but stuff like this makes you think of getting an alarm system.”
Tom, 24, feels crime issues have been little or non-existent in the years he and his dad have lived in New Hyde Park. He was glad to hear police caught the suspects.
“You never hear about stuff like this [in this neighborhood],” he said. “It never comes across your mind, then it hits you in the face.”
Rose Lane resident John Mathew picked up his wife, who works nights, at around 1:30 in the morning. Mathew, 49, who once lived in Garden City Park, said break-ins, sadly,
“happen here and there.” He moved to New Hyde Park in 2011.
“No one wants them to happen but sometimes it does,” he said. “My house was broken into three times in Garden City Park.”
Perri Eisner, a 32-year Orchid Lane resident, saw helicopters overhead in the night and was surprised to hear of the incident. He claimed to know the neighbors of the home where the burglary took place.
“We weren’t sure what was going on until we saw the helicopter. I heard they caught him relatively fast,” he said. “This area has been changing but it’s been relatively quiet.”
Eisner said the neighbors were fairly new and that maybe they were targeted during their move-in. “I’ve heard bad characters watch blocks to see if anyone is moving in and look to see what [families] bring in to the house,” said Eisner.