A local man was hospitalized following an attack in Keane Square, a spot many residents have come to regard as troublesome.
According to Joe Cassara, the 3-year super of Hazel Towers, he was shocked when he saw 48-year-old Michael Anthony Lapatina, as his aid brought him back into the building following the attack.
“I saw him when I was with another tenant who happens to be an EMS driver and she asked what happened,” said Cassara. “He recently had a stroke and he is just a friendly guy. He had to be hit repeatedly. To hit someone in a wheel chair you have to be a real low life. It was obvious he had broken bones and there was blood everywhere.”
According to Cassara, though the building is safe and features 24-hour security, some of the tenants are concerned with certain locations along Westchester, Burhe and Crosby avenues.
“It’s always the same people standing in Keane Square or in front of Kate Daly’s,” said Carl DeSimone, a frustrated Pelham Bay resident. “To hurt a guy in a wheel chair while he is with his aid? I feel like it is time we have to clean it up over there.”
According to Councilman Jimmy Vacca that area has been a known hang out spot for some time, having brought the matter up to both the 45th Precinct and the Borough Commander in hopes of decreasing the troublesome activity.
“We have a multitude of people with alcohol, drug abuse, and mental health issues that make Westchester and Buhre avenues their congregation point every summer. My staff and I, as well as representatives of Community Board 10, have been there personally many times and referred some of the individuals to detox and related services,” said Vacca. “There is no other answer to this problem other than zero tolerance and a commitment to a police presence on an ongoing basis.”
Community Board 10 is aware of the problems in the area, and has been pushing for a redesign of the park area in hopes of making it a safer environment.
“This just points out the need for greater enforcement,” said Kenneth Kearns. “The park needs a redesign, needs better lighting, needs better enforcement and needs more community vigilance.”
The 45th Precinct did not comment as of press time.