Today’s news:

Crime down but rape, assault rise in 114th

Crime dropped 9.7 percent in Astoria’s 114th Precinct as the number of murders stayed the same and rape and felony assault complaints rose just slightly. But the number of incidents in the other four major crime categories all declined in 2009, according to NYPD crime statistics.

The precinct, which covers Astoria and a sliver of Long Island City, reported four murders last year, which was the same number of homicides in 2008.

The year’s first victim, Astoria’s Carmen Saldana-Mundo, 23, was discovered dead July 12 by her mother in the apartment they shared on 30th Avenue, police said. Saldana-Mundo, who was taking marketing and advertising classes at Manhattan’s Fashion Institute of Technology and working as a waitress, had died of asphyxiation, the city’s chief medical examiner said.

In a Facebook post, the victim had written that a man in whom she was not interested would not leave her alone, but no arrests have been made in the case.

The second homicide of the year took place on Aug. 8 at the corner of 35th Avenue and 21st Street when a 33-year-old man was struck and killed by a black Range Rover, police said. The victim was taken to Elmhurst General Hospital and pronounced dead, while the driver was arrested at the scene.

The precinct’s third homicide of 2009 took place Oct. 18 when Michael Chatfield, 31, of Long Island City, was shot twice in the torso at the corner of 24th Street and 20th Avenue in Astoria. The victim managed to drive himself to Mount Sinai Queens Hospital, but was pronounced dead a short time later.

No arrests have been made in the shooting.

On Dec. 24, 16-year-old Cyan Brown, of Long Island City, was arrested after she allegedly stabbed Thomas Winston, 29, of Long Island City, to death in the F train station at 21st Street and 41st Avenue. Winston, who was stabbed in the torso, was taken to Cornell Hospital, where he was pronounced dead, police said.

Brown was charged with manslaughter, Queens District Attorney Richard Brown said.

The precinct reported 23 rapes last year as opposed to the 21 incidents from 2008, while the number of felony assaults rose to 262 incidents in 2009 from 252 incidents the previous year.

But the number of robberies, burglaries, grand larceny incidents and grand larceny auto incidents dropped last year.

Police statistics show that robberies in the precinct fell from 331 incidents in 2008 to 307 incidents last year, while burglaries went down from 522 incidents to 458 incidents. In addition, the number of grand larceny incidents decreased from 767 incidents to 740 incidents and grand larceny auto incidents decreased from 341 incidents to 227 incidents.

Overall crime in the precinct was 9.7 percent lower in 2009 than in 2008, during which Astoria experienced an overall 5.2 percent dip in crime.

Reach reporter Nathan Duke by e-mail at nduke@cnglocal.com or by phone at 718-229-0300, Ext. 156.

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