Sunday, July 31, 1977

Police Mobilize, but July 29 Comes And Goes With No Sign of .44 Killer

“What will you have for July 29?” demanded the Son of Sam in a letter last May.

It was a taunt – or warning – from a psychopath to remember the first anniversary of a year of terror, during which he had killed five persons and wounded six others with a .44-caliber Charter Arms Bulldog revolver, that mobilized hundreds of plainclothes men, uniformed and off-duty New York policemen for a 48-hour period that ended yesterday at dawn.

“That’s what makes it so frustrating. We have no theories. We have no leads. And that is just the truth.” Dowd

Throughout the evening and into the early morning hours the inspector managed to appear unruffled. He remained neatly dressed in his blue-cord suit and tightly knotted tie as his men – nearly all dressed in sports shirts and slacks or dungarees – continued to hunt.

A man waiting for half an hour in front of the 109th Precinct station was searched by a suspicious detective. The embarrassed policeman discovered that the man was just waiting for his wife to arrive at the corner bus stop. “Still, it could have been Sam. It would have been just like him to come right to our front door,” the detective insisted.

Excerpt from Howard Blum 07/31/77 New York Times

Friday, July 29, 1977

Nationwide Poll Finds 6% Think New York is a Good Place to Live

A national poll conducted after the blackout in New York City on July 13-14 found that 6 percent of those polled think New York is a good place to live and 34 percent think it is a good place to visit.

The finding indicate that New York’s negative image in the country is strong. In Kansas City MO someone said, “We had looting here in the summer of 1967. New York has no monopoly on that sort of thing. It could happen anywhere.”

Someone from Miami said, “It’s just what you expect from New York. Most of us expect the worst and New York didn’t let us down.”

As a place to live 1% rated the city as “excellent,” 5% “good,” 19% “fair,” and 65% “poor.” Better numbers for visit but “poor” was the largest vote getter.

Last year after Operation Sail and the DNC won praise for New York from tens of thousands of visitors, it was widely believed that many Americans were taking a more positive attitude toward New York. (Bicentennial vibes wore off fast).

“New York still is the Big Apple as far as I’m concerned. It is still the most interesting city in America. Its problems, like its good points, just seem bigger.”

“Its another black eye for New York. I suspect more taxpayers will leave. After last year’s DNC its like two steps forward and one step back. The big question is can Con Ed operate and is New York manageable?

Commenting on 5 explanations on why so many people participated in the looting, half said it was because “they are out of work and frustrated.” Two-thirds said they were “the kind of people who always steal if they think they can get away with it.” More than three-quarters said it was not because “they are poor and needy.”

excerpt from Michael Sterne NYT 7/29/77

Thursday, July 28, 1977

Grocer Is Held as Revenge Killer After Slaying of His Wife in Holdup

A Brooklyn grocer whose wife was shot to death by robbers Monday night was arrested on a murder charge yesterday afternoon, accused of having killed one of his wife’s assailants.

The grocer, Hector Sepulveda, who became a widower and a murder suspect within 24 hours, was found in Maimonides Hospital, where he had been admitted under an assumed name, after his 18-year-old son, Hector Jr.,was arrested and told police where his father was.

The son, the father, and a family friend, Felix Diou, 51, were said to have waited all day Tuesday in a station wagon on a block of Fifth Avenue in Brooklyn for Berrios Santiago, 38, who the police said was one of three men who robbed Mr. S’s grocery Monday night. During the robbery Gladys S. 33, was slain. “For $200 they shot my mother in the head.”

At 5:30pm Tuesday, the S’s and Mr. Diou allegedly approached Mr. Santiago while he sat in front of the house where he lived in Park Slope. There was a brief gun battle with 10 rounds fired. Mr. Santiago died on the sidewalk. Mr. S was wounded, but fled with his son while Mr. Diou was arrested and booked on a murder charge.

Olga Cruz said that people in the neighborhood believed Mr. Sepulveda had given the police an exact description of the robbers and their getaway car, but that the police didn’t do anything about it. Police, however, said they thought Mr. Sepulveda had a much better idea of who had killed his wife than he had given police.

excerpt from Molly Ivins NYT 7/28/77

Friday, July 22, 1977

104 Degrees in New York Ties for 2nd Hottest

New York City suffered through a blistering 104 degrees yesterday – the second-highest temperature ever recorded here – with wilting discomfort but no disaster.

The peak temperature was reached at 2:40pm and tied a previous reading of 104 on August 7, 1918. It was second only to the 106 degrees of July 9, 1936.

New Yorkers clung to air-conditioned offices and the shady side of the streets when they had to venture out. On the Staten Island Ferry, stokers had to contend with temperatures of 145 degrees in the boiler rooms.

excerpt from David Bird NYT 7/22/77

Lightning Hits 5 in Central Park and a Queens Bather

Five persons were struck by lightning yesterday in Central Park and a sixth was struck on the beach in Jacob Rils Park, Queens. The five in Central Park were standing at or near a baseball diamond at 100th Street, near the center of the park.

The National Weather Service advises staying away from telephones and other electrical equipment during a lightning storm. If caught outdoors people are advised to stay away from trees but to seek refuge inside caves, ditches or hollows or to lie flat in an open field.

excerpt from NYT 7/22/77

Wednesday, July 20, 1977

102 Sets New York City Record As Heat Broils Most of the Nation

The heat broke the previous record for the day – 98 degrees in 1930 – but it was short of the highest ever recorded – 106 on July 9, 1936.

excerpt from NYT 7/20/77

Tuesday, July 19, 1977

Sutton, Palmer Start for All-Stars Tonight

For the first time in 13 summers, baseball will stage its All-Star Game in New York tonight, when the American league tries to escape one of the strangest slumps in the history of its rivalry with the National League: five straight loses and 13 in the last 14 years. 25 of the last 31 (including this game).

Each has pitched in three previous All-Star games; neither has allowed a run yet. Palmer, three times voted the best pitcher in the AL, might have added to his stats last July, but was left off the roster by Darrell Johnson whom he promptly described as “an idiot.”

Billy Martin did not initially select Nolan Ryan but chose his teammate Frank Tanana who developed shoulder trouble. When the managers picked the eight pitchers for each team, Martin chose Tanana of the Angels but ignored Ryan who had won 13 games with four sutouts and 222 stikeouts. Then Tanana developed a strained shoulder and was replace belatedly by Ryan, who refused the nomination. Martin claimed, “It’s difficult because you have to select at least one player from every team.”

NYT Joseph Durso NYT 7/19/77

Thermometer at 100, Water Pressure Low

New Yorkers withered through the hottest day in 11 years yesterday with the temperatures reaching 100 degrees at 2:55pm.

Water pressure dipped as hundreds of hydrants were opened illegally to cool steaming streets. Hydrants are the main problem, Mr Samowitz said, because without spray caps they can gush up to 1000 gallons a minute. “Look at the fire out there,” he said pointing across the East River to smoke billowing from a blaze in the Bushwick section of Brooklyn where firemen were fighting flames that swept through 23 buildings. “That could be an unimaginable disaster if there wasn’t enough water.” (As if it weren’t an unimaginable disaster already).

March 9 Temps in NYC drop to 25 degrees – lowest ever for this date
March 30 Temps in NYC rise to 79 degrees – highest ever for this date
April 9/10 Temps drop to 25 degrees lowest ever for these dates

excerpt from NYT 7/19/77 David Bird

Saturday, July 16, 1977

Policeman Slain by Partner’s Gun In Scuffle With a Robbery Suspect

A 34-year-old city police officer was fatally shot with a service revolver seized from his partner by a robbery suspect yesterday afternoon as the officers tried to handcuff him in the Inwood section of the upper West Side, the police said.

The unidentified suspect was killed himself a short while later by the police after he commandeered the car of a woman who’s nose was broken during the kidnapping.

Officers Ed Mitchell and Johnny Reed responded to reports of a robbery at the J&L Luncheonette at 3809 10th Avenue, at the corner of West 204th Street. Residents pointed out to them a car in which two suspects allegedly were making a getaway. Officer Mitchell caught one of the suspects and Reed went to his aid when he saw the suspect putting up a struggle. Reed got a headlock on the man who wrapped an arm around the officer’s waist and seized his revolver. The suspect fired three shots, two of which hit Mitchell in the chest and arm. The suspect again ran off and Reed began to pursue in his radio car. Reed, “still carrying his wounded colleague’s service gun” chased the suspect to a nearby supermarket parking lot.

At a supermarket parking lot the suspect forced his way into the car of Nancy Qualter, who’s infant and mother were inside. He struck her, pushed her into the car, and got behind the wheel. Officer Reed and Officer Emmett Breen, who had joined the chase, fired one shot as the car drove off. Less than a block away the pursued car struck another vehicle and when the officers approached they found the suspects lifeless body over the wheel, still holding Mitchell’s gun.

Saxon NYT 7/16/77

Beame Tours Area of Looting

“I asked the cops to stop the looting,” shouted Stanley Schatel, the 44-year-old owner of Nice and Pretty, a badly damaged women’s sportswear store at 1245 Broadway in Williamsburg. He looked around the store, a scene of devastation. Empty boxes were strewn around and almost all of his merchandise was gone. “A lot of police came right to this corner. The people asked them to stop the looters. But they didn’t do nothing to them,” said Jose Gonzales.

“If you have X number of police and 5 times as many people who are violating the law in a certain area, obviously you can’t arrest everyone,” said the mayor.

excerpt from Steven Weisman NYT 7/16/77

Ravaged Slums Facing a Future of Uncertainty

The feeling of outrage and despair in the neighborhoods that were plundered during the blackout were replaced yesterday by an even more overwhelming concern – did the devastation represent the death blow for these already failing areas?

Along the streets of the South Bronx and Harlem, in the shopping areas of parts of Brooklyn and Queens, merchants swept up glass and debris. Workmen nailed plywood across burned-out store fronts. And on almost every street corner, men and women clustered to ask each other whether their neighborhoods would ever return to normal.

One of the worst hit blocks in the South Bronx was 138th Street between Brooks and St Anne’s Avenues.

Before the looters came, Joseph Weinstein’s 27 year old store, Superior Furniture, had been full of living-room and dinning-room sets, small appliances, refrigerators, television sets and more than 40 glass chandeliers. Yesterday the store was vacant except for 4 chandeliers, four heavy couches and several bookcases. At Lee’s Store, a men’s clothing store on 125th street in Harlem, Gary Apfel said the looters had not only taken all of the clothing but the mannequins as well.

At Amsterdam and 92nd, the gates to Capri furniture store and been torn off and a total plundering took place. According to many people who were on the block, the initial break in paved the way for whole families to come in and help themselves to furniture.
Witnesses said their was almost a carnival atmosphere, a neighborhood celebration.

A block down on 91st and Amsterdam, Emil Bernath’s furniture and lumber store was looted of thousands of dollars worth of bookcases, beds, cabinets, tables and other furniture. A radio that had been chained to a radiator was ripped away. Mr. Bernath is a survivor of both Auschwitz and Buchenwald.

At 182nd Street and Jerome Avenue in the Bronx two storekeepers drove their cars onto the sidewalk in front of their store Wednesday night, headlights on and sat in their cars prominently holding machetes. Their store was not damaged.

Three persons were killed and 59 firemen were injured in a wave of 1,037 fires during the blackout.

excerpt from Deidre Carmody NYT 7/16/77

Arrests in Blackout Dwarf 60s Riots

The police arrested many more looters and rioters during the power blackout here last Wednesday night and Thursday than they had in the city’s two major racial disturbances in the 1960s, statistics showed yesterday.

A high police official said the police had chosen a more-aggressive tactic this time in dealing with looters. “If we hadn’t moved in the looting would have been much greater.” The riots of 1964 and 1968 occurred during times of severe racial tension. The police, especially during the 1968 disorders, tried to contain rampages by cordoning off areas, rather than by moving in and making large scale arrests.

The department reported that 3,777 persons had been arrested in the 24 hour period following the blackout – at least 8 times more than in either of the two racial riots of the 1960s. Because of the mass arrests, the city’s court and prison systems were confronted with unprecedented overcrowding problems on the hottest day of the year.

Officials were unable to provide an exact count of how many police officers had seemingly ignored requests broadcast over radio stations to report to work immediately.

According to the department’s own preliminary personnel statistics, as many as 10,000 off duty policemen were either unaware (!) of the emergency or failed to heed the order issued by Commissioner Codd.

“Most of the guys put in 12 to 16 hours. But quite a few came in today to pick up their checks. They said if Mayor Beame wants to screw us, let the city burn.” About half of all policemen live outside the city. Estimates were that 5,000 off-duty cops responded, joining 3,800 on duty thus providing a street force of about 8,000 during the early hours of the disorder. About 10,000 failed to return to work during the early part of the emergency.

excerpt from Selwyn Raab NYT 7/16/77

A Glimpse at Bushwick’s Broadway after the Looting

Many shopowners failed even to return to their stores yesterday, but Samuel Rosenblum, co-owner of John and Al’s Sports, were 20 guns and thousands of rounds of ammunition had been stolen the day before, was looking forward to going home after a 36 hour vigil in his store at 927 Broadway. The sound of hammering had replaced the wail of police sirens at Mr. R’s store, but up the avenue at Rose Stevens, a 67-year-old widow, the sound of weeping had taken over. After spending the night alone in her $57 a month apartment over a burned out meat market at 1235 Broadway she spent the day wandering in search of a new home. “I wish I died,” she said, tears spilling from her eyes, already swollen from crying. “I’m almost 70 years old and I have no place to go.”

She was later placed in emergency quarters.

To many walking along Broadway, past store mannequins sprawled like bodies of war victims in the street and piles of glittering glass, the events of the preceding 24 hours were a mystery. “Most of the people involved were unemployed. A lot of people are looking for work here. The poor people felt it was their turn now.” “Broadway was run down long before this riot occurred. This is the first time street sweepers have been seen on Broadway in 3 or 4 years.”

excerpt from David White NYT 7/16/77

5 Who Escaped Rikers Recaptured After A Tip

Five prisoners who escaped from the Men’s House of Detention on Riker’s Island Thursday were recaptured Thursday after a tip from a sixth escapee who never left the island. However, one of two prison hospital inmates in another escape Thursday was still missing. There was the possibility that the fugitive, 19-year-old Edwin Velasquez, who had an injured leg tried to swim through the East River. The other hospital inmate, David Romaine returned to the island when his water wings deflated.

The six inmates escaped Thursday night thinking the city was still blacked out. They made their way to the roof of their cellblock and lowered themselves to the ground sixty feet below with bedsheets and clothing. Then they plunged into the East River. Ralph Angel Navaez was apprehended at the scene. He told the police he thought the men would stop at North and South Brother islands in their swim to the Bronx. The police later found the five there.

excerpt from NYT 7/16/77

Friday, July 15, 1977

When Poverty’s Part of Life, Looting Is Not Condemned

In much of East Harlem yesterday, as in other areas hard hit by looting and vandalism during the blackout, a visitor yesterday found people who said that despair was so deep and opportunities so limited in their communities that the act of taking someone else’s property is not condemned. “They don’t have no chance out here.”

Minority-owned businesses, having little or nothing to lose, were not as hard-hit. “We own the nickel-and-dime operations – pet shops, and things like that.”

excerpt from Charlayne Hunter-Gault NYT 7/15/77

Ravage Continues Far Into Day; Gunfire and Bottles Beset Police

Widespread looting in New York City continued into the daylight hours yesterday in the aftermath of the blackout. The violence erupted in all boroughs except S.I. and left hundreds of stores with merchandise stolen and miles of streets littered with glass and debris. The heaviest hit areas were the primarily black and Hispanic neighborhoods of Harlem, East Harlem, the South Bronx, the Bedford-Stuyvesant, Bushwick and Crown Heights sections of Brooklyn and Jamaica Queens. Also East Flatbush, Brownsville and Flatbush in Brooklyn. One police officer was shot in the leg. One looting suspect was shot and killed by a Brooklyn merchant in the Fort Greene section. One Harlem youth was shot dead and another wounded after they looted a liquor store. Many police reported coming under sniper fire.

For most of yesterday, the police maintained a force of 11,000 officers and supervisors to cope with the robberies and thefts. However, at the height of the disturbances yesterday, between midnight and 4:00am, the police were able to muster fewer than 8,000 of their 25,000 officers and supervisors. 10,000 who were not on vacation or sick leave failed to comply with the Commissioner’s order to report to duty immediately.
A sergeant in Brooklyn said many policemen disregarded the order because they were ‘disgruntled” over working condiditons.

Even as Mayor Beame was decrying “a night of terror” at a noontime City Hall news conference, roving bands of youths and adults were breaking into stores carrying off food, furniture and television sets. Looters did not confine themselves to small appliances or even furniture. In the Bronx, an automobile dealer said a steel door and window in his showroom had been smashed and 50 new cars driven away.

The city obtained permission from Federal judges to temporarily reopen the Tombs prison in Manhattan and at least one juvenile jail which had been closed by the courts because of their decrepit condition.

Bu 10:40pm last night, slightly more than 25 hours after the massive power failure began – set off by lightning strikes north of the city – all of the utility’s 2.8 million customers were back in service. Sections of lower Manhattan and the Upper East Side were the last to light up in a day long series of neighborhood power restorations.

As looting continued in downtown Brooklyn, Harlem and the South Bronx, arrests passed 3,300 and city lockups were jammed to overflowing. Fires set by arsonists raged in several areas, the worst in Bed Sty. 55 total fires were classified as severe.

As the lights came back on in neighborhood after neighborhood last night, sustained cheering in the streets was the common reaction as tensions abruptly eased and reports of looting and vandalism dropped off sharply.

At the Ace Pontiac Showroom on Jerome Avenue in University Heights Bronx 50 new cars were stolen.

Officer Gary Parefsky of the 30th Precinct in Harlem said that while tyring to arrest looters, he and other officers came under fire from guns, bottles and rocks. “We were scared to death,” said the 30-year-old policeman. “Anyone who says he was not is lying. The blue uniform didn’t mean a thing.” “They couldn’t understand why we were arresting them. They were angry with us. They said: I’m on welfare. I’m taking what I need. What are you bothering me for.”

excerpt from S Raab NYT 7/15/77

Pathos, Heroics, Humor On a Night to Remember

It was a night of terror and destruction and genuine anguish for many. It was a night of excitement and ingenuity amid touches of gallantry for others. And in many ways it was a night filled with the ludicrous, heroic, zany, toughing and dopey doings of the thousands of people who swarmed through the darkness, somewhat baffled by it all.
For many, life was even worse when they awoke yesterday to clocks that were still stuck at 9:34pm, the moment when darkness had struck. It was a morning without water, without elevators, without subways, without banks and even for many, without a good hot cup of coffee to make it all bearable.

And for some storekeepers, it was a day during which they stared uncomprehendingly at the wreckage of a night of looting and rampage. There were those for whom this meant complete ruin.

On the Upper West Side of Manhattan at 95th Street and Amsterdam, Le Mans, a men’s fashion store was “totally cleaned out,” according to its vice president, Ted Brooks. “It looked like a bomb shelter,” he said. “They took everything – clothes, shoes, furniture, plants and fixtures. They even took our computerized cash register.”

New Outlook at Windows on the World

“It was amazing. We were looking out at the most spectacular view in the world – New York at night – when suddenly it disappeared.” Ivy Stevens was one of the 600 guests dinning at Windows on the World, the restaurant on the 107th floor of the WTC when, before their eyes, the vast panorama of Manhattan simply flickered and went out.

A Grim Game of Cat and Mouse on Tour of East Harlem Eric Pace

Rioters bombarded police cars and foot patrolmen with bottles and stones, trying to turn them away. “Throwing bricks at the cops – that’s a normal occurrence,” one strapping detective said at the station house. Patol cars were repeatedly stopped by flat tires as they crunched over tin cans, broken bottles and bitrs of glass littering the streets and sidewalks that were eerily lit by police spotlights, fires in trash cans and candles flickering in shopfronts here and there.

Tony Ragona, 50 years old, sat in a chair outside his bakery at 139th Street and Second Avenue and told an interviewer, “This store is OK because I stayed here last night with my .32-caliber pistol and my attack dog. I told them. You come into my place, I shoot you. That was enough.”

excerpt from NYT 7/15/77 D. Carmody

About New York

The looters scattered, roachlike, in the full morning sunlight, then stopped to watch brazenly when the owner of Joe’s candy store showed up and saw his store disemboweled onto the Brownsville sidewalk. He let out a furious howl.

Like a wounded bull, the man went after one edge of the crowd that held his candy bars and cigarettes. The looters simply skittered off, the children and women in screams and laughter, the teenaged boys swaggering like toreadors. “Oh those scum, those bastards, those rotten scum.”

The darkness this time was the act of two little boys initiating themselves into theft, clambering through the charred remains of John’s Bargain Store, coming out with school supplies, and almost getting trampled by an old woman protecting an armful of pots. “It was like World War III.” The scene often was of white, Jewish merchants standing outside their stores in groups watched by crowds of blacks and Hispanics.

Like other merchants, Sonny Robinson, proprietor of a black-owned camera store on 125th Street, counted differences from the 1965 blackout – chiefly the hot July night this time and the more depressed economic state of the ghetto, compared with the chill November evening and the Vietnam Ware economy of 12 years ago.

But this blackout, as epic as 1965’s was, lasted longer – in 1965 the lights were back on by daylight. At midday yesterday, there were merchants and residents worried that if their neighborhoods hit dusk without electricity restored, the looting would intensify.
“Then you can hang it up, daddy.” Others wondered if the mere restoration of power would shake the lust for loot. He eyed the sportive groups in sunlight, lugging away boxes of meat and sacks of booty and thought the festivity could go forward on its own.
When power was restored to Harlem’s 125th Street yesterday morning music was heard blaring from a record store. A crowd regrouping outside Busch’s Jewelers hustled under the steel protective curtain, long since bent back like a sardine can, looking for gems missed in the darkness of earlier raids.

excerpt from Francis X Clines NYT 7/15/77

Night and Day, Mets Are Blacked Out

In the depths of the blackout Wednesday night at Shea Stadium, the crowd of 22,000 was singing, “White Christmas” along with Jane Jarvis at the organ while the Mets held a shadowy infield drill without a baseball, bathed in the headlights of players cars parked in center field.

Darkness fell on the sweltering stands when the Mets were trailing the Cubs 2-1 in the sixth inning. For the next two hours, the players and Miss Jarvis spent their time keeping things relaxed and easing the crowd toward the exits. The result was a cheerful communal experience.

“This is the safest and coolest place to be – right here,” said Donald Grant, who addressed the crowd in measured tones in the midst of the enforced gaiety. Grant escaped the booing that has been his lot since he traded Tom Seaver by not identifying himself when he spoke.

The Mets’ plans to resume the suspended game before their scheduled afternoon encounter with the Cubs was thwarted by the continued lack of power. Both games were postponed and will be played in September. Torre was not sorry to see the games put off. His two best left-handed hitters, Milner and Kranepool are injured and the Mets have to play 5 games in 48 hours over the weekend.

excerpt from Paul Montgomery NYT 7/15/77

Thursday, July 14, 1977

Ringing Doorbells Day and Night In Ceaseless Hunt Of “Son of Sam”

When the 8pm to 5am detective shift begins in a two-room office at the 109th Precinct station house in Flushing Queens a day’s worth of clues have already piled up – reports from astrologers, neighbors, patrolmen, parole officers and cranks.

It is 18 days since “Son of Sam,” the .44-caliber killer, fired four shots to wound his 10th and 11th victims, and on this particular evening six teams of detectives continue to search the city for him. They are especially anxious because July 29 is approaching, the first anniversary of his first murder. His toll so far is 5 dead, 6 wounded. “Everyone knows someone who looks good, looks like the composite,” complained Detective Ed Dahlem. “The problem is there have been four completely different composites since March. But you’ve got to check out each lead, each clue. You’d hate to let the right one pass you by.”

“Last night, said Detective Gerald Shevlin, we rushed over to the 108th Precinct because we heard some guy had shot his wife. He put 14 rounds into her. It was an incredible sight, but it wasn’t Sam.”

“Tonight maybe we’ll get lucky. It’s so frustrating after all these months. When I go home, I can’t sleep. I’m still chasing Sam. I dream of him. I’d give 30 days pay to get him tonight. I hope our luck is running.”

Excerpt from Howard Blum July 14, 1977 New York Times

Monday, July 11, 1977

Ousted Times Square Smut Shop Reported Planning to Reopen

The owners of the Crossroads pornographic bookstore and peep show at 42nd and Broadway – converted in May into a travelers’ information center operated by the police after a transaction in which the owners were bought out for $81,000 – are reported planning to resume business less than a block from their old location.

On May 26, after a two-year effort to evict the bookstore, the police center opened amid a flurry of speechmaking and toasts by Mayor Beame and Police Commissioner Michael J. Codd and other city officials.

But now, according to Times Square merchants and the city’s Midtown Enforcement Project, the owners of the former store plan to lease a one-story building at 228 West 42nd Street, near Seventh Avenue. The city says it is powerless to stop the bookstore owners from reopening because they are not violating any laws. The building, in the hub of the city’s commercial sex district, now houses a Playland amusement arcade. During the 1940s and 1950s it housed the Hubert Museum, a sideshow with a fat lady, a flea circus and strong-man acts. But in recent years, since the closing of the museum, it has become a reputed hangout for “chicken hawks,” older men in search of young male prostitutes.

If the move by Crossroads is completed, it will illustrate the rapidity with which sex establishments can re-emerge after they have been closed, but it would also give an indication of the huge profits such establishments can make – allowing them to pay much higher rents than non-sex-oriented businesses in the area.

NYT Raab 7/11/77

Thursday, July 07, 1977

.44-Caliber Killer Wounds Two In Car Parked on Queens Street

Yesterday’s victims were shot about 3:20am as they sat in a car on 211th Street south of 45th Road, under a large oak tree and beside a white picket fence at a frame house. The shooting took place three blocks from the 111th Precinct House.

Miss Placido, like an earlier victim of the .44-caliber killer is a graduate of St Catherine’s Roman Catholic High School in the Bronx. Valentina Suriani, 18, who was fatally shot nine weeks ago, graduated from the school last year. Miss Placido graduated last Saturday.

When the young couple left the disco, they went to the car of Mr. Lupo’s friend and were sitting there smoking cigarettes for about 10 minutes when the shooting occurred. Mr. Lupo then jumped out of the car and ran to the disco to get help. Miss Placido staggered out and walked to the corner of 45th Road where she collapsed in the middle of the street.

Based on these notes, the police directive said that medical authorities have diagnosed the killer as “a neurotic, schizophrenic and paranoid, with religious aspects to his thinking process as well as hintings of demonic possession and compulsion. He is probably shy and odd, a longer inept at establishing personal relationships, especially with young women.

Mr. and Mrs. Doborowski were asleep inside the two-story framed at 45-39 211th Street and Mr. Lupo’s car was parked at the curb in front of the house.

“You hear firecrackers all the time,” Mr. D said. “And you’re ready to blast somebody. But then we didn’t hear anymore so we turned over and went back to sleep. It was only the calls for help that prompted his wife to go to the window.

Excerpt from Emanuel Perlmutter June 27, 1977 New York Times

Rock Album by Hendrix Is Examined for a Clue On “Son of Sam’s Name

Detectives hunting the killer known as the “Son of Sam” have looked into a suggestion that he might have taken his name from a rock music lyric.

Captain Borrelli said yesterday that one member of the special task force investigating the case had studied a 1967 album by the Jimi Hendrix Experience trio. Mr. Hendrix, a singer-guitarist died in 1970. One number, “Purple Haze,” can be heard with a faint incantation, “Help me, help me, help me, son of Sam, son of Sam.” Captain Borrelli said: “It’s interesting. It could be a coincidence. At this particular moment I don’t believe it deserves special attention.”

Interest in the case was swelled by two $10,000 rewards offered for the killer’s arrest and conviction – one by The Daily News and the other by WABC-TV.

Investigators have been trying to track all 28,000 .44-caliber Charter Arms Bulldog revolvers manufactured since 1972. Captain Borelli said that it turned out that many had yet to be sold by gun dealers, but that about 600 have been reported stolen nationwide.

Excerpt from July 7, 1977 New York Times

Employers Told To Hire Alcoholics and Drug Abusers Able to Work

The Labor Department directed employers with Federal contracts today to take “affirmative action” to hire alcoholics and drug abusers, provided they are able to perform their work.

Donald Elisburg, Assistant Secretary of Labor, issued a statement to “remind” employers that alcoholics and drug abusers were covered by the Rehabilitation Act of 1973 which protects handicapped people against job discrimination.

“Employers who fail to consider qualified alcoholics and drug abusers from employment because of their handicap are clearly violating the law,” he said.

A spokesman said employers were expected to find and hire drug abusers and alcoholics, “just as they are expected to hire blacks, Hispanics and other minorities.” The spokesman said that about 250,000 companies were covered by the law, all but the very smallest of the Government contractors. He added that they must take positive steps to find and promote alcoholics and drug abusers to be in compliance with the law.

Excerpt from Philip Sharecoff New York Times

Firemen Catch Suspect in Slow-Speed Chase

With its siren screaming and engine straining to push it to its full 35-mile-an-hour top speed, a 40-foot Fire Department aerial ladder truck lumbered through 12 blocks of Bronx traffic yesterday afternoon in successful pursuit of a tow truck that had allegedly spedoff after striking a 13-year-old boy.

Firemen said they saw the boy knocked 30 feet through the air. The tow truck got caught in traffic and allowed the firemen to catch up.

Excerpt from New York Times

Tuesday, July 05, 1977

Bus Hijacker Seized At Kennedy Airport After He Slays Two

A gunman who diverted a Vermont-bound bus with more than 25 passengers from the Bronx to Kennedy Airport surrendered on a runway late last night after killing two hostages in a daylong siege of terror and gunfire.

A young, Spanish-speaking assailant – who said he had been racially mistreated in this country – demanded $6M and a plane to take him to Cuba – before throwing his gun out the window and stepping out into the darkness of the sprawling airport’s northern reaches.

In the final hours of the 10-hour drama, in which two hostages were killed, the bus careened wildly around the airport’s runways and taxiways as a caravan of police vehicles pursued with bobbing headlights.

At one point the bus drew up to a DC-8 cargo plane that had been readied at the gunman’s insistence, but last minute negotiations failed, and the chase resumed. It ended at 11:30pm when an armored personnel carrier rammed and halted the bus. One policeman said the assailant ran out of ammunition for his 32-caliber pistol, but Luis Robinson told police that the only reason he gave up is that he made friends with the rest of the people on the bus.

The bus had left for Vermont from Port Authority bus terminal at 40th Street and 8th Avenue in Manhattan at about 1:30pm. The gunman took it over in the Bronx, ordered the bus driver to go to Kennedy, crash it through a fence at the airport, and drive in circles over runways on the southern end of the field, near Jamaica Bay.

There was no initial panic, a hostage said. “Everything was perfectly still.” The gunman strode to the front after shooting a hostage and made a “little speech” in which he warned that people would be killed if they did not follow his orders.

He divided the other passengers according to race, the whites to one side and the blacks to the other. He spoke English and Spanish and shouted about how he had been mistreated in the United States.

All air traffic at Kennedy, one of the busiest airports in the world, was halted for an hour in the afternoon during the driving spree and then again for three hours late last night as the bus meandered around the airport before the surrender. During the afternoon, pursuing police officers had to back off as the hijacker fired wildly from the windows and shouted death threats against the passengers. At one point the body of a woman slain by the gunman was hurled from the moving vehicle. During a 6 hour period in the afternoon and evening the bus remained parked near a TWA hanger and the gunman released 12 passengers including the driver, who died at a hospital later of a gunshot wound to the chest, and two men who had been wounded by gunshots, one of them critically.

In response to his demand for money and an airplane capable of taking him at least 3,000 miles over water, some money was sent to the airport and a DC-8 was fitted with extra seats and otherwise prepared for a flight.

The hijacker’s motives were unclear but one released hostage, John McGavern, told reporters: “He was racially upset, very upset about the racial situation in the United States and wanted to leave.” Mr. McGavern said the bus reached the North Bronx when the gunman “jumped up in the aisle, pointed a gun and shot me – I think he was aiming for my face.” The bullet zipped through his neck cleanly. “He just went boom. I was looking right down the barrel. It hurt like the devil.” “If you live till we get to Kennedy you can go,” Mr. McGavern said the gunman had told him. The gunman pushed him forward with his hand on his Mr. McGavern’s neck and ordered him to lie down in the front seat. When they reached the airport he was dumped out of the moving bus and was able to get up and walk despite his wound. The bullet passed through his neck and no surgery was required. “It’s really a miracle that there was no major damage,” said the doctor later.

“We thought he (the driver) was lost or he was a nut,” said Lt. John Stone about the police reaction to initial reports that the bus had crashed through a metal gate next to the police headquarters building.

During the initial driving spree on the runway the body of a slain woman was thrown from the bus and recovered by policemen. The woman was said to have been shot in the back of the head. “I put the lady at the stairs of the bus and told everyone to start yelling to the police to back off. And the bus driver decided he was going to be a hero, so I had to shoot the lady and turn around and deal with him immediately.”

Three passengers’ accounts contradicted the hijacker’s story. All three charged that Luis Robinson had shot Nettie Blassberg, 57 years old, and that when the driver then lunged at him, he was shot. Mr. Robinson’s version was that he shot both in self-defense after the driver tried to push him out of the bus, where police marksmen were lined up.

Mr. Blassberg said of his wife and the hijacker: “He made her stand in the doorway, right in front of me. She was looking at me, I was looking at her, and he just shot. At first I thought he shot past her and shoved her off the bus, and I thought, “That’s good, she’s off the bus.” The bus driver, Mr. Blassberg said, was “the real hero.”

“He told us the woman he shot was a sacrifice and meant to show the police he meant business. He thought the police thought he was kidding and he wanted to show them he wasn’t.”

There was a brief violent and confusing fight onboard. Nettie Blassberg, 57, was shot and her body tumbled out the door. Inside a 22-year old female army specialist tired to fell the gunman with a karate chop. She said Mr. Robinson struck her in the forehead with the gun. Mr. Bozick, the driver tried to lung toward the gunman to. He was shot, and he too toppled out of the door.
With Mrs. Blassberg was her husband David, who operates a newsstand and lunch counter in the courthouse in Greenfield. The gunman ordered him to operate the bus. “I can’t drive. I’m legally blind.”

The tense drama unfolded on a hot, sultry holiday weekend afternoon.

Excerpt from Robert McFadden July 5, 1977 New York Times

Sunday, July 03, 1977

Refusing Robbers, Man at Times Square is Stabbed to Death

A 23-year-old man was stabbed to death early yesterday outside the IND subway station at 42nd Street and Eight Avenue by two men who tried to rob him, the police said. One suspect was arrested.

According to police Tyrone Jenkins was standing with two teenage friends against a store window when one of the assailants put a knife to his chest and demanded his money. Mr. Jenkins, who had $11 in his pocket, declined. The man then stabbed him. Mr. Jenkins staggered down the station steps and collapsed.

Acting on a description provided by one the friends, one of three transit officers, John Dempsey, stopped a suspect, Pedro Canceo about a block from the station. A scuffle ensued, in which Officered Dempsey suffered several slight stab wounds.

The assault occurred shortly after 3 AM at a busy subway station that is frequented by derelicts throughout the day and night.

excerpt from NYT 7/3/77

Saturday, July 02, 1977

Story of an East Side Policeman Who Turned In Fellow Officers

When Police Officer Robert Ellis took the witness stand to testify in a recent Manhattan robbery case he said he saw a fellow officer from the Ninth Precinct who was in the courtroom run a finger across his throat, threatening retaliation.

The chilling gesture did not surprise Officer Ellis. He had known what he would face by breaking the “code of silence” and telling superiors about the corrupt activities he saw being committed in the precinct. On Friday, Officer Ellis was promoted to the rank of detective, but he is leaving the department due to a congenital heart condition.

All of the cases involved the officers’ theft of $15,000 from two young drug dealers, who they ultimately arrested.

The Ninth Precinct is on the Lower East Side, encompassing the area from 14th Street to Houston Street, and from Broadway to the East River. It is a neighborhood in which Hispanic, black, Jewish and Polish residents live in poverty. It has one of the highest crime rates in the city, and in the last five years four policemen assigned to the precinct have been shot to death while on patrol.

According to Detective Ellis, the lives of “honest cops” were being endangered by the dishonest ones who fostered rancor toward the police by flouting the “street rules” by which the pimps, prostitutes, drug dealers and addict live.

“These guys cut it both ways,” he says of the convicted officers. “According to the street rules, if you take their money you don’t lock them up.”

Internal Affairs told him to make the men believe he was interested in joining the corrupt activities. He was outfitted with a tape recorder which he wore beneath his clothing. “There were times when I wished I could have thrown the wire into the river, but I couldn’t do it,” Detective Ellis said. “One night, for example, Manisera probably saved my life by fighting off the guy that attacked me. And this is while I was wearing a tape to collect evidence.”

“The victims here were all poor and uneducated people to who we have a particular responsibility,” said Robert Morgenthau. “We have to be careful to protect all citizens from criminal activity, whether they are criminals themselves or pillars of the community.”

“I don’t want my friends in other commands to think that for eight years they were dealing with a spy,” he said. “I want it simply to be said that I am an honest cop.”

NYT 7/2/77

From the Police Blotter

A traffic incident involving a car cutting off another in the Bronx led 15 minutes later to the fatal shooting of one of the drivers a few blocks from his home. The shooter fled the scene.

excerpt from NYT 7/2/77

Police Taxi Squad

Responding to pressure from the taxi drivers’ union following the murders of two cabbies last weekend, Mayor Beame announced the formation of a special police taxi squad. At a City Hall news conference the Police Commissioner declined to say how the new 20 policemen in the new unit would function, but he indicated they might act as decoy drivers.

excerpt from NYT 7/2/77

Friday, July 01, 1977

Bad Language

Shocking reports of the exploitation of young children by pornographic moviemakers and publishers inspired the New York Legistature to ban the use of children in explicitly sexual films and books. It is a necessary and widely supported measure. Unfortunately, its overly broad language would tend to discourage the publication and distribution of reputable works.

Because one outlawed practice – “promoting a sexual performance by a child” – was not modified by the word “obscene,” it could be read to apply to a publisher with the most edifying intentions. Mere nudity, even in the interest of science and scholarship, might be construed as “a sexual performance,” with no need to prove obscenity.

For example, a well-known sex education book, “Show Me,” contains photographs of a little girl and a little boy exploring each other’s bodies, and so might fall under the new ban even though it has been found free of obscenity in several court tests.

The measure should be clarified to make certain it hits the right target – those who recruit and photograph children for pornography, in obscene and not just vaguely sexual context.

NYT 7/1/77