Police Officer Dominick DeStefano was honored last week with the 106th Precinct’s Cop of the Month award for December in recognition of his excellent police work by Deputy Inspector Joseph Courtesis, the commanding officer, and 106th Precinct Community Council President Frank Dardani.
Prior to the incident for which DeStefano was honored, the precinct had experienced six gunpoint robberies that were similar in nature, according to Courtesis. In each case, the perpetrator approached the victims and asked them for the time. At that point, he produced a silver firearm and robbed them.
In one incident, a female victim refused to give up her property and the perpetrator fired his gun in her direction and fled, Courtesis said. She was not hit and no bullets were recovered by police. In another robbery, Courtesis said the suspect took a purple cell phone from a 14-year-old girl.
On Dec. 19 at 2 a.m. DeStefano was flagged down by a resident at the corner of Lefferts Boulevard and Liberty Avenue in Richmond Hill. The resident told the officer that an individual had just pointed a gun at him. The victim rode with police while they canvassed the area. Five minutes later, the victim noticed the suspect walking down the street. Upon seeing the officers, the perpetrator fled, but was apprehended by DeStefano after a short foot pursuit and taken to the precinct, Courtesis said.
Officers located the silver handgun in the grass where the suspect had stopped. He was also found to have a purple cell phone in his possession.
Police suspected that the alleged perpetrator was involved in other robberies too. When the suspect was put into lineups he was picked out as the perpetrator in five of the six cases, including by the victim whom he allegedly shot at, according to the deputy inspector.
Courtesis added that the silver firearm turned out to be a starters’ pistol incapable of firing a projectile, which is why police did not find any ballistic evidence at the scene.