Week in Rewind: Bronx-born rapper and friends launch Sonrisa, NYPD investigating Bronx deaths, AOC hosts discussion on antisemitism and more

Bronx-born rapper and friends launch Sonrisa, Puerto Rico’s newest rum

Salsa, reggaeton and freestyle music blasted as hundreds gathered at Con Sofrito’s Puerto Rican Day parade after-party on Sunday, June 9, where a sea of people wearing and waving red, white and blue enjoyed free food, free drinks and the newest Puerto Rican rum to hit the market in partnership with Bronx-born rapper and entrepreneur, Joseph Cartagena — also known as Fat Joe.

“It gives back to Puerto Rico, every bottle that’s sold, a dollar goes back to mom-and-pop businesses,” Fat Joe told the Bronx Times regarding his reason to invest in Sonrisa rum.

As part of its initiative to give back to the island, Sonrisa, meaning “smile” in Spanish, established “From Puerto Rico, For Puerto Rico,” which gives $1 of every bottle sold to the people of Puerto Rico, but more specifically, to small business owners; many who are still trying to recover from the affects of Hurricane Maria in 2017.

“They are our forgotten American brothers and sisters in Puerto Rico that no one is caring about,” said Sonrisa co-founder and co-CEO Shareef Malnik from Miami, who calls Puerto Rico “our sister city” and often visited the island as a child. “The FEMA money never gets to them, they never survived Hurricane Maria, COVID — so we’re going to donate millions of dollars to those people along with our partners.”

Bronx-born rap star and entrepreneur, Fat Joe, sips on a coconut cocktail at the launch of the newest Puerto Rican rum, Sonrisa, which he partnered with this year.
Bronx-born rap star and entrepreneur, Fat Joe, sips on a coconut cocktail at the launch of the newest Puerto Rican rum, Sonrisa, which he partnered with this year. Photo ET Rodriguez

NYPD investigating two Bronx deaths on Sunday

The NYPD is investigating the death of a 66-year-old man they found unconscious and wounded on a Norwood park bench Sunday — the first of at least two deaths in the Bronx on Sunday that police are investigating.

Cops from the 52nd Precinct responded to a 911 call at around 5:25 a.m. on June 9 about a man on a park bench near Putnam Place and Reservoir Oval East in Norwood. Upon their arrival, officers observed the man was “unconscious and unresponsive with multiple puncture wounds to the body,” according to the NYPD.

Emergency services transported the 66-year-old man to NYC Health + Hospitals/Jacobi, where he was pronounced dead. The NYPD said as of Sunday morning at 8:50 a.m. that there were no arrests for the incident.

Photo Camille Botello

Big Winner: $1M Mega Millions ticket sold at Parkchester candy store

One lucky Bronxite just struck it rich at a Parkchester candy store after the New York Lottery announced Tuesday the shop sold a second-place prize-winning Mega Millions ticket.

The $1 million winner bought their ticket at Three Star Candy Store located at 1673 Metropolitan Ave. Though they have yet to come forward, the winner has a year to claim their prize, according to the New York Lottery.

Al Haramoh works the lottery machine at Three Star Candy and said he’s happy for the win and hopes it draws “more visitors for the owner here.”

The winning numbers for Mega Millions are drawn from a number field ranging from one to 70. The Mega Ball is drawn from a separate field of numbers ranging from one to 25. Tuesday’s winning numbers were 1-5-7-22-24 with a Mega Ball of 08.

Two tickets matched all five numbers, however, both missed out on the Mega Ball. The other winning ticket was sold at Ralph Avenue Liquor Store in Brooklyn and had a megaplier, a multiplier that increases non-Jackpot prizes and costs an additional dollar per play, totaling the win to $4 million.

Lottery tickets are seen at Fairfield Food Inc. in the South Bronx on Thursday, July 27, 2023.
Lottery tickets in the South Bronx on Thursday, July 27, 2023. Photo ET Rodriguez

Assembly District 77 Democratic candidates square off in BronxTalk debate

The two candidates running to represent the 77th Assembly District, incumbent Landon Dais and challenger Leonardo Coello, squared off in a debate that aired on BronxNet on June 10.

The pair are competing in the Democratic primary scheduled for June 25, with both seeking to represent the neighborhoods of Highbridge, Claremont, Concourse and Morris Heights.

Dais, 43, won the seat in February’s special election following Latoya Joyner’s resignation and now seeks a full two-year term beginning in January. Coello, 48, meanwhile, currently serves as Bronx borough director for the mayor’s office.

Dais and Coello’s conversation marked the 95th political debate hosted by veteran BronxTalk host Gary Axelbank. While the discussion occasionally got heated, candidates largely kept their criticisms on-topic, obeyed the debate rules and expressed similar views on several policy issues.

As the candidates sat side by side in the BronxNet studio at Lehman College, Dais pointed to his achievements in the Assembly thus far, including securing funding for schools. “I know how to get things done,” he said.

Incumbent District 77 Assembly Member Landon Dais (left) and challenger Leonardo Coello (right) engaged in a 30-minute debate hosted by Gary Axelbank of BronxTalk. Photo Emily Swanson

AOC hosts discussion on antisemitism and its threat to democracy 

U.S. Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, who represents parts of Queens and the South Bronx, hosted a June 10 livestreamed conversation on antisemitism and its undermining effects on American democracy.

According to Ocasio-Cortez, while Jewish people are the target of religious and racial prejudice, they are also the subject of a longstanding conspiracy theory that unfairly blames them for societal problems and undermines Americans’ trust in government.

New York City is home to about 1.4 million Jewish people, according to a 2023 study by the UJA-Federation of New York. Jews make up about 7% of the state population, compared to about 2% of the overall U.S. population.

The Oct. 7, 2023 attack on Israel by the Islamic militant group Hamas was the deadliest day for Jewish people since the Holocaust. But antisemitic hate crimes have been on the rise in the city since before that day.

FILE – Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, D-N.Y., hosts livestream discussion on antisemitism and its threat to American democracy. AP Photo/Andrew Harnik, File)