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General News

Suspect Arrested for Brutal Attack at St. Demetrios, GoFundMe Launched for Victim

JAMAICA HILLS, NY – Police have arrested the suspect in the brazen attack and robbery of a 68-year-old parishioner outside St. Demetrios Greek Orthodox Church in Jamaica, which took place on April 7 at 8:30 AM, resulting in her serious injury.

The police said “a 16-year-old boy was taken into custody and charged with robbery, assault, grand larceny and criminal possession of stolen property,” on April 11, the New York Daily News reported, adding that “his name was not released due to his age.”

Video surveillance footage showed the disturbing attack. “The victim was followed from behind and when she reached the top of the stairs, the suspect jumped in front of her and knocked her down so hard she went airborne,” ABC7 reported, adding that “EMS took the victim to Booth Memorial Hospital following the attack.”

St. Demetrios Jamaica’s presiding priest Fr. Konstantinos Kalogridis told ABC7 that “the woman is awake and recovering,” after his initial visit with her at the hospital. “She was alert. She was conscious.”

Fr. Kalogridis gave her a blessing, Holy Communion, and an icon as well while at the hospital.

“Meanwhile, the thief was able to get away with a cellphone, credit cards and $300 in cash before fleeing the scene in the victim’s 2006 Nissan Altima,” ABC7 reported, noting that “the suspect was described as 18-25 years old, 5’8” and medium build. He was last seen wearing a red hooded sweatshirt under a black jacket, black pants, black face mask and black sneakers with red trim.”

On April 9, the police located, just a few miles from the church, the victim’s car. The police found fingerprints and DNA clues in their search for the suspect.

In an interview with The National Herald following the incident, Fr. Kalogridis noted that the woman is still hospitalized with her condition stable and showing signs of improvement.

“I visited her twice, on Monday and Tuesday night. I see she is getting better day by day. She is a woman with a good soul and is always smiling,” said Fr. Kalogridis.

He added that the incident happened during the Orthros service which precedes the Divine Liturgy, with most of the parishioners and himself realizing what had happened only after the end of the Liturgy, as it took some time for the ambulance to arrive at the scene.

“It happened around the time of the Orthros and I was informed about what happened at the end of the Liturgy. The truth is that it took a long time for the ambulance to arrive at the scene. It’s something we couldn’t believe. For a woman to come for the Sunday of the Veneration of the Holy Cross, at the time of Orthros, and for this man to come, step in front of her, push her with force and throw her down the steps. The woman fell down hard, hitting the concrete. The human mind cannot comprehend what happened,” said Fr. Kalogridis.

Naturally, last Sunday’s incident has alarmed the parishioners of St. Demetrios Jamaica, as there is always the fear that it could happen again, especially at a time when there are so many services in the Greek Orthodox Church heading towards Holy Week.

For his part, Fr. Kalogridis noted that there is coordination and understanding with the 107th NYPD Precinct, which oversees the area, and an increased police presence is reassuring.

“The neighbors are mainly the ones who want to feel safer. Here we have the 107th Precinct, which will send patrol cars to monitor the area and make sure nothing like that happens again. In any case, it was something unusual. The police told us that there has never been such an incident before in the area. Nevertheless, the police will supervise. They support us and will monitor the area,” Fr. Kalogridis concluded.

The Daily News identified the victim as Irene Tahliambouris and noted that her son, Freddy, has started an online fundraising effort. More information about the GoFundMe campaign to help with “what she needs to help her get her life back together,” is available online: https://gofund.me/29fbf3ac.

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