NEW YORK — Police have arrested the man suspected of going on a wild carjacking and robbery spree in Queens Thursday morning.
Nicolas Almonte, 27, is accused of stealing three luxury cars at gunpoint in just 90 minutes — prompting a massive manhunt that shut down the Queens-Midtown Tunnel for at least an hour and sent cops in SWAT gear to Long Island City.
Almonte was taken into custody on Apollo Street in Greenpoint about 5:30 p.m. Thursday, police said. He was charged with five counts of robbery with a firearm, three counts of robbery of a motor vehicle, attempted armed robbery, attempted robbery of a motor vehicle and unlawful imprisonment.
Almonte allegedly struck first at 21-27 Borden Ave., where he pointed a gun at a woman and stole her black 2006 Mercedes about 9:30 a.m., police said. He briefly drove the woman in the car, but she was able to escape near Thompson Avenue and Van Dam Street, police said.
He then carjacked a gray 2007 Lexus at the same intersection about 10 a.m., and by 10:30 a.m. had also stolen a 1996 gold Mercedes at Greenpoint Avenue and 39th Street, police said. In between, Almonte also tried unsuccessfully to steal two other vehicles and held up a man at gunpoint and fled with cash, police said.
Almonte's coworkers at Swing Staging in Long Island City were shocked to hear of his alleged spree, describing the scaffolding worker as "calm" and cool." Coworkers said they nicknamed Almonte "Bebpop" because he was always singing to himself.
But he was also sometimes prone to bouts of anger, during which he shouted and "tried to start fights," said Michael Stacey, 47, a manager at Swing Staging. "He goes off the wall."