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Cops lock down elementary school in Astoria manhunt

A helicopter hovers in the sky above Astoria. Photo by Joe Anuta
TimesLedger Newspapers

ASTORIA — Parents attending an orientation session at an Astoria elementary school were evacuated Wednesday morning and the school was locked down while police launched a manhunt complete with an NYPD helicopter, parents and cops said.

Police had sections of the street surrounding PS 85, near the corner of 31st Street and 24th Avenue, blocked off at about 10:30 a.m. as a helicopter scoured the area, though it was unclear exactly when the ordeal began.

Officers were looking for an older man who had been spotted on a nearby rooftop, the NYPD said. He was not considered a suspect in any crime, according to police, but cops at the scene told concerned parents the man was acting strangely and bolted when police attempted to question him.

Many mothers and fathers had been inside the school at an orientation session and were told to leave while the children were put on lockdown, according to one father who only wanted to be identified as Mark.

Mark said his daughter had just started attending kindergarten at the school a few days ago.

“All the indications we got were that he never got into the school,” he said. “But it was pretty scary.”

As of 11:30 a.m., Mark said the manhunt seemed to have ended.

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alia from astoria says:
We were kicked out of our orientation meeting at 9:30, but the school administration didn't explain why-- we walked out and there were police shouting at us to get away from the school.

We had heard the helicopter nearby for approximately 3- 5 minutes before that.

Other parents identified him as a young male who hangs around the neighborhood and thinks he's a ninja. When I talked to police at 31st and Hoyt Ave north (under the train station) at 9:40, they said he was a young man wearing neon orange shorts and no shirt.

Doesn't sound like he was armed.

Also, PS122, a nearby school, was also put under lockdown.
Sept. 11, 2013, 5:40 pm
Beth from astoria says:
Sounds like a bunch of over reaction. A waste of resources and someone on a power trip...
Sept. 11, 2013, 9:03 pm
James from Greenpoint says:
Beth that's funny you're right. I don't know what's crazier a dude who scales the roofs cause he thinks he's a ninja or the NYPD busting out the choppa to try to catch him. Lots of money wasted today. 20 guys making 80K to look at a neighborhood loon in his orange shorts playing ninja.
Sept. 11, 2013, 10:23 pm
Milo from Sunnyside says:
Probably just a writer lol
Sept. 11, 2013, 10:36 pm
Grateful parent from PS85 says:
I disagree that this is a waste of resources. We pay police for keeping public safe. In this case, the stake is the safety of hundreds 5-12 year old children. As a parent, the well being of my children is more importance than my life. Thank you NYPD for using every necessary resources to keep our children safe.
Sept. 11, 2013, 11:24 pm
Crissy says:
As a Mom, it's better to be safe than sorry. Use those resources as much as you need to keep everyone safe. Had the police done less and this person caused harm to a child...that would have caused an uproar
Sept. 11, 2013, 11:27 pm
Jean says:
We had enough of innocent kids dying. NYPD do what you have to do.
Sept. 12, 2013, 7:29 am
Jean says:
We had enough of innocent kids dying. NYPD do what you have to do.
Sept. 12, 2013, 7:29 am
Parent of 2 PS122 Kids from Astoria says:
The comments stating waste of reaources probably Do Not have kids or purely clueless. If this person displayed suspicious behavior then police did the right thing. Spoke with some people who were near PS85 and they did say that the man may have had 2 guns on him. They also said he tried gaining access to one of the schools but was stopped by security guard. I agree when it comes to school and kid safety every precaution needs to be taken.
Sept. 12, 2013, 7:45 am
Jaymes from Astoria says:
Was the man arrested?
Sept. 12, 2013, 8:54 am
ASTORIA DITMARS from Astoria says:
I know the guy and all he was doing was working out on a rooftop and people just over react
Sept. 12, 2013, 11:14 am
PS85Q parent from Astoria says:
On the movie batman; the joker says that the people want bad things to happen, yesterday I saw many people hopping that this guy would be some kind of terrorist or something like that, but they got very disappointed when they found out that nothing really happened.
This is what really happened; there was a guy exercising across the street near the school backyard (orange short no shirt, big mussel man) some moms were taking picture of him 'cause he was looking good, probably he was under some kind of drugs effect because when he realize that they were watching him, he started to show off, claiming up the building, people got scare and call the police and say that there was a man on the school rooftop, NYPD was prepare for this kind of call because of 9/11 so they came in 2 seconds making all this big deal for nothing.
Anyway I don't blame anybody!
My only concern is that the kids could understand the reality and not think that someone was trying to hurt them, please parent be carful with that.
Bye!
Sept. 12, 2013, 12:10 pm
Adell from Parent of students in Astoria, Ditmars area says:
* The situation was handled badly.

* Parents attending an orientation session at an Astoria elementary school were evacuated Wednesday morning and separated from their children.

* Parents were told to leave and the children were left inside.

* There was no explanation at the time given to parents.

* When parents left the school they found police had blocked of streets and were conducting a search.

* YES they succeeded in placing fear in the parents for NO necessary reason.

* The description of the male given did not even match the person they ended up questioning.

* I personally know several of the adults involved in the 'photo' taking, scaremongering, and subsequent 911 call. A simple waste of time, effort, and unnecessary fear.
Sept. 17, 2013, 8:14 pm
zdenka from astoria says:
I work at the beer garden and the cops came looking for him there too. I have seen him several times always acting up and displaying aggressive behavior. A few weeks before the incident he attacked one of my coworkers as he was coming home from work. Guy's not all there. Should be on meds
Sept. 22, 2013, 6:12 pm

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