Body found wrapped in tarp behind building

JAMAICA, Queens — Police are investigating after the body of a man was discovered behind a Queens business early Friday morning, the NYPD said.

Authorities said officers responded around 6:50 a.m. after a call for an unconscious person behind 180-08 Liberty Ave. in the Jamaica section of the borough.

According to Google Maps, the location is GWG Wheels tire-repair shop and showroom.

Responding officers discovered the unidentified, unresponsive man, lying on the ground and wrapped in a tarp, police said.

EMS responded and pronounced the man dead at the scene.

According to the NYPD, the man was wearing just underwear and a T-shirt when a worker discovered him.

Police sources told PIX11 the shirt was found up around his face, but it was not clear if it was intentionally put there or moved up during a possible moving of the body.

There were no known or obvious gunshot wounds, police sources said.

The medical examiner will determine the cause of death as the investigation remains ongoing, police said.

Submit tips to police by calling Crime Stoppers at 1-800-577-TIPS (8477), visiting www.nypdcrimestoppers.com, downloading the NYPD Crime Stoppers mobile app, or texting 274637 (CRIMES) then entering TIP577. Spanish-speaking callers are asked to dial 1-888-57-PISTA (74782).



Grandmother home after battle with COVID-19

FLATLANDS, Brooklyn — It is a story of the power of love, perseverance, prayer and lots of good luck.

A family in Brooklyn is celebrating their matriarch, a 73-year-old great grandmother, coming home from the hospital after a nearly six month battle with the coronavirus.

Her family is calling it a miracle arter Marie Jean Pierre has spent 163 days fighting the coronavirus, first at home and then in Maimonides Medical Center and finally at Saints Joachim and Anne Nursing and Rehabilitation Center.

Jean Pierre had a tracheotomy and had to re-learn how to talk and walk again.

But this mother of six, grandmother of 11 and great grandmother of nine is clearly a fighter and finally, surrounded by so much love, she came home.

“We were on the phone every day as a family in a conference call,” Marie Delus, Jean Pierre’s daughter said. “We called the doctors every day, we knew what medication she was in. We told each new doctor,” she added.

Jean Pierre’s COVID-19 saga began in mid March when she was having trouble breathing and her family in Flatlands took her to Maimonides and during that six months battle with the virus, at least three times doctors told the family the end was near.

“We dropped her off in the 21st and in the 23rd, the doctors told us she wasn’t going to make it through the night,” Delus said. “She went through a nightmare and survived.”

The family says they have learned so many lessons and are so grateful to the medical staff and the power of prayer.

“We have to thank Maimonides and the doctors and nurses there,” Marie Poulard, Jean Pierre’s adopted daughter, said. “I am a nurse myself and it’s amazing the work they put in.”

“We’re going to help around the house, help clean, groceries,”Lyndell Lewis, Jean Pierre’s 18 year old great grandson said.

Jean Pierre says after 163 of hospital food she was really looking forward to a home-cooked meal of chicken, okra and white rice.



Art helps homeless New Yorkers during pandemic

NEW YORK — The last several months have been fraught with challenging times: the coronavirus outbreak triggered a shutdown of our economy and there have been widespread protests and a national reckoning over racial inequality, police reform and the deaths of minority Americans at the hands of law enforcement.

It’s been a lot for any person to take and homeless New Yorkers are no different.

Mike Durkin is the recreational specialist at Two Bridges Women’s shelter in the Lower East Side, which is part of the Institute for Community Living. The organization is comprised of shelters and shared apartments. It provides rehabilitation services for some of our most vulnerable and at-risk New Yorkers. The shelter has encouraged the women they assist to channel their overwhelming feelings through their art.

“There’s all this uncertainty,” Durkin said. “There’s all this in limbo, so the art was a way to process those emotions.”

Rapper and poet Simone said she’s taken part in recent protests and she’s expressing her thoughts and feelings in her poetry.

“Black Lives Matter has been a big statement in my poetry,” said Simone.

Wallena has been singing her entire life. When it comes to the coronavirus outbreak, she’s using music to make sense of it herself and to help children understand it.

”The major concern I have is with the children,” said Wallena. “I wonder every day how they’re handling this.”

Too often, we see troubling images of people experiencing homelessness. But they are so much more than how they are portrayed.

“The folks that we engage with at the shelter are embroiled in many different endeavors, whether it’s through substance, whether it’s through mental illness,” said Durkin. “During these challenging times, that art has a way to soothe.”

They are finding an outlet where they can .

“Arts been taking me to another level of calmness,” said Simone.



Biker captures photos of couple getting married

BROOKLYN — A beautiful wedding photo has gone viral after a woman captured a couple getting married on the Brooklyn Bridge Sunday.

Nevona Friedman happened to be on the bridge and snapped a few photos. She then tweeted a photo, asking for the public for help on finding the newlyweds.

To her surprise, Friedman’s efforts helped her get in touch with the couple.

Friedman spoke to PIX11 about what made her decide to stop and take pictures. PIX11 also spoke to the couple, Nikolina Kovalenko and Stefan Ponova, about why they decided to have a small ceremony on the bridge and how they felt when they found out pictures were actually taken.



NJ unveils school reopening plans

NEW JERSEY — As New Jersey unveiled school reopening guidance on Friday, Gov. Phil Murphy said he has “every expectation” that kids will return to schools come September.

The guidance comes with the requirement that the state’s public schools will open in some capacity with the health of students, their families, and educators being the “top priority,” according to the governor.

Where it can be done, overall class sizes should be limited to reach the standards of social distancing, according to Murphy.

For larger districts, the state is providing the flexibility to rearrange schedules to allow for grouping of students, or by implementing hybrid learning environments.

Districts must prepare to switch to remote learning “at any time,” Murphy said. School officials must also make an effort to ensure social distancing will be practiced throughout the day including cafeterias and banning enclosed groups.

Proper social distancing practiced must be followed at all times. Face coverings will be required unless doing so would inhibit the individual’s health or the individual is under two years of age. Students are also strongly encouraged to wear face coverings and are required to do so when social distancing cannot be maintained, unless doing so would inhibit the student’s health. All schools will also work with their custodial staff for proper building sanitizing and cleaning on a daily basis.

The governor said the guidance set up “started with listening” as the state had been in contact with educators and stakeholders about concerns and what can be done for the upcoming school year.

Officials listened to about 50 education and community organizations, over 300 school superintendents and surveyed more than 300,000 parents and guardians to come up with the plans.

Four principles reopening guidance must be followed:

  • Ensuring conducive and learning atmosphere
  • Supporting education leaders with planning
  • Providing policy guidance and necessary funding to schools
  • Securing continuing of learning

However, Murphy also acknowledged that there is “no one-size-fits-all approach” when it comes to school reopenings because there are differences which exist among schools and education communities, including geographic, demographic and economic factors.

Guidance outlines standards every school should expect to be conditional for reopening, it also comes with the flexibility that individual districts will need to ensure an effective implementation strategy that meets their unique needs.

In addition, the Department of Education released “Conditions for Learning” which involve the social, emotional and environmental factors that can impact educator capacity to teach and student capacity to learn.

  • Districts must organize and prepare for the next school year, acknowledging the potential trauma that staff and students faced during COVID-19 school closures.
  • Districts should seek to actively include families and students in the decision-making process, teams and meetings regarding interventions and supports.
  • Students and staff need to feel cared for, reengaged and acclimated to the school community, so schools can deliver instruction most effectively.
  • Provide professional development to support educators’ integration of SEL in their teaching, including the skills to foster positive learning environments and techniques for embedding SEL into in-person or virtual instruction.

For a full report of guidelines, click here.

Murphy teased Thursday that plans would be released the following day, adding “this guidance has been in the works for weeks.”

He also told the PIX11 Morning News he was “confident we’ll be back in school when we open up again in late August.”

Schools in New Jersey have been closed since March 18 in an attempt to reduce the spread of the virus.

In New York City, Mayor Bill de Blasio said schools are expected to resume on Sept. 10 and Schools Chancellor Richard Carranza laid out a tentative framework for the fall, which includes blended learning.

On Friday, the mayor said the city and school officials are working on plans to get the maximum number of children back to school safely.



Toddler, 3 others burned from illegal fireworks

HIGHBRIDGE, the Bronx — A 3-year-old child was injured by fireworks in the Bronx as the city continues a crackdown on illegal fireworks, police said.

It happened just after midnight in the vicinity of Anderson Avenue and West 167 Street in Highbridge.

The toddler and his parents were watching illegal fireworks from their apartment window when the child was inadvertently struck by a firework, according to police.

The shell blew apart, cutting the boys left arm badly enough that he needed stitches, Chief of Detectives Rodney Harrison said. The boy also suffered first- and second-degree burns.

Warning: Some viewers may find the following video disturbing or upsetting.

No arrests have been made.

A new multi-agency task force was established to lead a crackdown on illegal fireworks as complaints in New York City continue to skyrocket.

The task force aims to disrupt the supply chain with sting operations targeting suppliers, distributors and possessors of “large quantities” of illegal fireworks, Mayor Bill de Blasio said Tuesday.

New Yorkers filed 11,535 complaints with 311 about illegal fireworks between Jan. 1 and June 21, according to the NYPD.

Anyone who hears fireworks outside their home should call 311 unless there is a real danger to someone’s life, the mayor said.