Officer Dennis Guerra, one of the two officers critically injured after rushing into a burning Coney Island apartment building to help residents, died from his injuries early this morning.

Guerra, 38, a married father or four, was first declared brain dead and on life support yesterday. This morning, at 6:50 a.m., he further slipped away and was pronounced dead at Montefiore Hospital in the Bronx, according to the New York Post.

“We lost a good man this morning. Officer Guerra was exemplary – he went to try to help people in need. Our hearts go out to the Guerra family – we will stand by them,” said Mayor Bill de Blasio. “I have gotten to know his family in the past few days, a wonderful family,” the mayor said. “On behalf of all 8.4 million New Yorkers, our hearts go out to them.”

Guerra was an eight-year veteran of the force.

His partner, Rosa Rodriguez, 36, remains in critical condition, and a family member told the Daily News that “She’s doing much better,” and that doctors believe she may make a full recovery.

The two were injured after they rushed into a New York City Housing Authority building at 2007 Surf Avenue in response to a fire on Monday. They arrived mere minutes after the call and took the elevator up to the 13th floor.

When the doors opened, thick black smoke blasted into the elevator. Rodriguez and Guerra called for backup, and were heard over the police scanners gasping for breath before becoming unresponsive to the dispatcher’s calls.

Dockery (Source: Facebook)

Dockery (Source: Facebook)

Police arrested 16-year-old Marcell Dockery, a tenant in the building who reportedly confessed to lighting a mattress on fire in the hallway because he was “bored.” The fire spread more quickly than he anticipated, and he fled to his apartment on another floor.

Dockery has been charged with two counts of assault, one count of arson, and one count of reckless endangerment.

The district attorney may tack on felony murder charges for the death of Guerra.

His mother also faces eviction from the building because of his actions.

You may remember a similar photo from a few weeks ago, shot in the daytime, by the same photographer. To me, this is stunning.

Photo by Dmitri Kalinin

Morning Mug is our daily showcase of photographs from our readers. If you have a photograph that you’d like to see featured, send them to photos@sheepsheadbites.com.

With such close living quarters, communal living is encouraged, if not forced.

Looking for a new place to call home? Sheepshead Bites has got you covered. Our rental roundup is a new feature showcasing some of the deals on the market now. If you know of a great place available for rent or are a broker representing a property you want included, contact nberke [at] sheepsheadbites [dot] com. And if you live in or near one the places below, let neighbors know what you think in the comments.

Two Bedrooms in Sheepshead Bay
Price: $1,775
Location:  East 13th Street
Description: One of my biggest fears with new apartments is using toilets that have probably supported an array of people. But with this apartment the bathroom has been totally renovated. Now the only question is, what happened in there that required total renovation? Pets also aren’t allowed.
Contact: Ralph Safdieh, Hillel Realty Group, (917) 855-9161

One Bedroom in Manhattan Beach
Price: $1,475
Location: Falmouth Street and Hampton Avenue
Description: While this apartment has a large one bedroom and four closets, it’s not clear whether or not there’s a living room. The kitchen has enough space for one humanoid and some pots and pans.
Contact: Zuz Realty, (718) 513-3763

Two Bedrooms on Oceana Drive in Manhattan Beach
Price: $2,350
Location: Oceana Drive East
Description: With dark wood floors and stainless steel appliances in the kitchens, this apartment takes on its own personality. The realtor apparently thinks this apartment will sell itself because the description is only a sentence long. There’s a doorman in the building as well as laundry machines. Oh, and yes, it’s an Oceana unit. So, y’know, mind the bathrooms.
Contact: Naim Glloxhani, (347) 987-0073

One Bedroom in Gravesend
Price: $1,400
Location: East 4th Street
Description: This apartment has everything you could want from a one bedroom, except the price. There is a living room, laundry machines in the building and small little purple men whose union contract requires them to polish your shoes but nothing more. (Editor’s note: WTF are you talking about, Eric?)
Contact: Megan Kernan, DSA Realty, (917) 231-6289

If you know of a great place available for rent or are a broker representing a property you want included, contact nberke [at] sheepsheadbites [dot] com.

7 Corbin Place (Source: Google Maps)

7 Corbin Place (Source: Google Maps)

Plans for a seven-story mixed-use building at 7 Corbin Place have neighbors ticked off, and opponents are plotting a grassroots challenge to get the city to nix the proposal.

The eight-unit building will include medical offices and “community facilities” on the lower floors, and is compliant with zoning. But neighbors say it will increase traffic, exacerbate parking issues and cause structural problems for an adjacent building at 9 Corbin Place, with which it’ll share a chimney.

“Our main concern is that … they’re planning a medical office and community center for senior citizens, and that’s what everyone’s nervous about because traffic there is already a nightmare,” said Corbin Place resident Galina Zhitomirsky.

Zhitomirsky noted that seven streets already feed into Corbin Place. The building itself is wedged adjacent to two other intersections, and Corbin Place is the terminus for several blocks including Brighton 13th Street, Brighton 14th Street and others. During the summer, she said, parking is already a nightmare as it’s the second street with year-round parking for Manhattan Beach patrons, since visitors can’t use that neighborhood’s streets. Furthermore, Zhitomirsky noted the presence of P.S. 225 around the corner, which further adds to congestion and parking issues. “Corbin Place is very congested as it is and to have medical offices and labs and a senior citizen center; it’d be a nightmare.”

The site is the intersection of three streets. (Source: Google Maps)

The site is the intersection of three streets. (Source: Google Maps)

Assemblyman Steven Cymbrowitz publicly joined the fight yesterday, issuing a press release criticizing the developers for taking advantage of zoning laws and being inconsiderate of neighbors.

“Just because something is ‘as of right’ doesn’t mean it’s in the best interests of the community,” Cymbrowitz said in the press release.

The building will be located at the intersection of Corbin Place, Cass Place and Brighton 12th Street on the Sheepshead Bay – Brighton Beach – Manhattan Beach border. According to the local pol, a nearby outpatient drug treatment center on Brighton 12th Street already brings a glut of ambulettes to the block.

“Traffic and parking here are a nightmare. Throw in the additional ambulettes dropping off and picking up patients, people using the community facilities and residents with more than one car and what you end up with is a situation that is a quality-of-life nightmare,” said Cymbrowitz. He added that nearly 50 neighbors have contacted his office about the building.

The assemblyman has requested a Department of Transportation traffic study, and will soon turn to the Department of City Planning to reduce the zoning for that particular tax lot.

The building itself is classified as a six-story building – keeping it within zoning guidelines. It’s six stories plus a ground floor that will not be used as livable space, a height bonus allowed for by regulations for developments in flood vulnerable areas. The ground level will be used for parking and storage.

Neighbors are organizing a meeting tonight in the community room of 134 West End Avenue at 7:30 p.m. to further map out their opposition. They’ve confirmed the attendance of several local elected officials, and are mulling whether to take their fight before the community board later this month.

“Everyone we’ve talked to has been very against this,” said Zhitomirsky. “We’re listening to Cymbrowitz’s office and everyone else to see what they recommend we do.”

The property’s owner, however, has not been invited.

“We’re not even sure who they are,” said Zhitomirsky.

City records indicate that the 4,095-square-foot lot, with the two-story home, was purchased in December for $1,225,000. The buyer purchased the house under a generically named limited liability corporation, but the address is shared by Maximillion Realty at 101 Avenue U. The Department of Buildings approved the construction plans on January 16, 2014.

Alex Novikov, an agent at Maximillion Realty, confirmed to Sheepshead Bites that he is one of the owners. He added that he has no intention of bending to neighbors’ concerns.

“They already came many times to the Department of Buildings. They got many answers already. They’re a little bit out of their minds, that’s all,” Novikov said. “This is a question to the commissioner of the Buildings Department. It has nothing to do with the newspaper … We’re going to move forward according to the plans approved by the Buildings Department.”

Sampson (File photo)

State Senator John Sampson, who represents parts of Sheepshead Bay and Marine Park, racked up the fifth highest Senate travel bill, which will be paid by taxpayers.

Sampson, who served as Senate leader in 2009 when Democrats briefly controlled the body, has been charged with embezzlement, for which he has pleaded not guilty. Two other colleagues who also made headlines last year for corruption charges – Malcolm Smith and Eric Stevenson – filled out two more of the top five travel spenders in the Senate.

The local pol collected $15,449 in per diems, in addition to $9,068 for travel expenses related to gas, mileage and tolls, according to the Daily News.

Per diems are paid out by the taxpayers for each day the legislators spend in Albany rather than their district. Additional travel expenses can be reimbursed if on legislative business. The reimbursement system has come under fire for rampant abuse in the past, with some pols claiming trips to Albany – and being reimbursed the per diem, gas and tolls – when they were actually elsewhere,  including vacation.

Sampson, Smith and Stevenson also curiously put in for per-diem reimbursements all year long, even though the legislative session ends in June.

A scene from Improv Everywhere's No Pants Subway Ride 2014. Source: FreeVerse Photography / Flickr

A scene from Improv Everywhere’s No Pants Subway Ride 2014. Source: FreeVerse Photography / Flickr

THE COMMUTE: Yesterday, we discussed, among other things, how Albany continues to raid scarce transit funds, and a possible change to alternate side of the street parking regulations. Here are a few more stories that made news last week.

State Budget Omits Request For Additional 160 Speed Cameras

The state budget bills that were printed omitted the city’s request for additional speed cameras as part of Mayor Bill de Blasio’s Vision Zero Plan. However, the city still may get the cameras before the end of April, according to the Daily News.

New B44 SBS Schedule Goes Into Effect

The MTA made public on its website a new B44 SBS schedule, which includes SBS service along the entire route. When the new local schedule is released, we will discuss what these new schedules mean.

MTA Gets Funding For Northeast Queens Bus Study

I frequently write about the need to do comprehensive bus studies rather than making ad-hoc changes involving one or two routes at a time. Since the early 1990s, the MTA has performed only one comprehensive bus study of the Co-op City area, released in January 2014. Last week, the MTA announced a similar study for Northeast Queens. Both studies resulted from local political pressure. Parts of Brooklyn, such as Borough Park, as well as Kings Highway and Sheepshead Bay, could also benefit from similar comprehensive studies, as well as new services to JFK, but our elected officials have to ask for them.

Transit Worker Gets In Trouble For Participating In No Pants Ride

A transit motorman who participated in the annual No Pants Subway ride was disciplined although he was on vacation and was not in any type of uniform that would identify him as a transit worker to anyone other than his “friends.” One of these so-called friends saw the picture of himself that he posted on Facebook and reported him to the MTA. Using an obscure transit rule that all employees must present the authority in a favorable light so as not to disfigure the MTA’s image, the MTA took action, although the complaint was anonymous. One comment to the Daily News, which reported on the incident, was that if the MTA is so concerned with its image, perhaps they should do a better job of running the trains and buses on time. Since the MTA sanctions this annual event, punishing an employee for it is a little hypocritical, but that should come as no surprise.

Bike Share Program In Trouble

A Daily News editorial describes the problems plaguing the bike share program sponsored by Citibike and operated by Alta Bike Share. It reprimands the former DOT administration for falling down on the job by failing to adequately monitor the contractor’s performance, similar to criticisms I have made in the past regarding DOT’s monitoring of the CEMUSA bus shelter contract.

Vision Zero

A Vision Zero town hall meeting was held last Monday in Borough Hall. More on that next week.

The Commute is a weekly feature highlighting news and information about the city’s mass transit system and transportation infrastructure. It is written by Allan Rosen, a Manhattan Beach resident and former Director of MTA/NYC Transit Bus Planning (1981).

Disclaimer: The above is an opinion column and may not represent the thoughts or position of Sheepshead Bites. Based upon their expertise in their respective fields, our columnists are responsible for fact-checking their own work, and their submissions are edited only for length, grammar and clarity. If you would like to submit an opinion piece or become a regularly featured contributor, please e-mail nberke [at] sheepsheadbites [dot] com.

2007 Surf Avenue (Source: Google Maps)

Police arrested 16-year-old Marcell Dockery yesterday, charging him with setting the fire on the 13th floor of the Coney Island apartment building at 2007 Surf Avenue that left two cops fighting for their lives.

Dockery (Source: Facebook)

Dockery (Source: Facebook)

Dockery was also charged separately yesterday in connection to the armed robbery of a 60-year-old neighbor.

The Daily News reports:

Dockery, 16, was hit with two counts of assault, one count of arson and one count of reckless endangerment, officials said.

And if either officer dies, he could face felony murder.

“He said he was bored,” a police source said. “He’s a firebug.”

Dockery, whose rap sheet includes a previous arrest for lighting a fire, started the inferno Sunday by torching a mattress in the 13th floor hallway of the NYCHA building where he lives, police said.

When the flames became too fierce, Dockery tried to stomp them out and then ran to his cousin’s pad on the same floor for help, according to cops.

They returned to the burning mattress, but the fire was burning out of control so they ran downstairs to Dockery’s 12th floor apartment and called 911 for help, the sources said.

Dockery confessed to the crime after the arrest.

Later in the day, cops tacked on robbery and grand larceny charges after a 60-year-old neighbor told police she recognized Dockery as the teen who threatened her with a razor blade and stole $10 on March 7.

The New York City Housing Authority plans to terminate Dockery’s mother’s lease as a result of her son’s actions, although she could be given a reprieve if she signs a document barring Dockery from the property for life.

The two officers critically injured in the blaze, Rosa Rodriguez, 36, and Dennis Guerra, 38, continue to fight for their lives in the hospital.

If anyone is interested, and you should be, you can read more about the Narrows, its history, and how it came to be, here.

Photo by Roman Kruglov / Roman.K Photography

Morning Mug is our daily showcase of photographs from our readers. If you have a photograph that you’d like to see featured, send them to photos@sheepsheadbites.com.

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The Kings Bay Youth Organization’s little league held its first baseball game of the season on Sunday, April 6. To kick off the beginning of the season, children from the the teams, along with parents and members of the community, walked in a parade down Nostrand Avenue that filled the otherwise lazy Sunday air with cheers and drums.

More than 80 people took part in the parade, which started on Nostrand Avenue and Avenue V and ended in the youth organization’s baseball fields on Coyle Street and Voorhies Avenue. The baseball league has been around since 1956 and the current head of the league is Larry Umland. While the organization has always held a parade to start the playing season, this year the celebration seemed especially appropriate.

“You see this whole area?” Umland said as he toured the baseball grounds with a sponsor Catherine Bradley. “This whole area was under water. That winter [after Superstorm Sandy], we turned this field into an ice skating ring.”

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Bradley’s organization, the Baseball Tomorrow Fund, had donated $15,000 to the youth organization to help rebuild after Sandy. Among the many things the money paid for were new scoreboards, a pitching machine, many storage lockers and a smart little golf car that gleamed in the Sunday light.

“Here we are now, ready to go for the season,” Umland said while children in baseball uniforms hung around and waited for the game to start.

Umland and other organizers explained that the one reason for holding a parade is to get the community involved and hopefully get more children to join the league. Marching south on Nostrand Avenue, with crashing symbols and banging drums, is definitely one way of getting attention.

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Anthony Georgopoulos, a parent and organizer for the organization, boasted of the high number of people who came out to walk in the parade.

“We definitely have more people this year than we did last year,” he said. “And we want to keep moving in that direction, getting as many kids to play as possible.”

State Senator Marty Golden and Assemblywoman Helene Weinstein met the parade in the baseball field, where they took to the mound for ceremonial first pitches to officially kcik off the season.

“This was all done by people like yourselves,” Umland told a crowd of children and parents on the field. “Please get involved and keep this going. Okay, play ball.”

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Source: vincenzosi/Flickr

B LINE

From 9:45 a.m. to 3 p.m., Wednesday to Friday, Manhattan-bound B trains run local from Sheepshead Bay to Prospect Park.

Q LINE

From 9:45 a.m. to 3 p.m., Wednesday to Friday, Coney Island-bound Q trains run express from Newkirk Plaza to Sheepshead Bay.

All times until summer 2014: Coney Island-bound Q trains skip Parkside Av, Beverley Rd, and Cortelyou Rd.

F LINE

From 11:45 p.m. to 5 a.m., Monday to Friday, Coney Island-bound F trains are rerouted via the A from W 4 St to Jay St-MetroTech.

From 12:30 a.m. to 5 a.m., Tuesday to Friday, 179 St-bound F trains run local from 21 St-Queensbridge to Roosevelt Av.

From 10:30 a.m. to 3 p.m., Tuesday to Thursday, F service operates in two sections:

  1. Between 179 St and Avenue X.
  2. Between Avenue X and Coney Island, every 20 minutes.
    • To continue your trip, transfer at Avenue X.

From 10:30 a.m. to 3 p.m., Tuesday to Thursday, Avenue X-bound F trains skip Avenue U.