Man Wanted in Queens Carjacking Spree, Police Say
Cops are on the hunt for Nicolas Almonte, 27, following a string of armed robberies that led cops on a wild chase through the borough, authorities said.
The scaffolding worker — who coworkers described as normally "calm" and "cool" — allegedly boosted three luxury cars at gunpoint in less than 90 minutes, police said.
Officials said the gunman, nicknamed "Bebop" by his coworkers, was still on the lam hours after the incident, which halted rush hour traffic.
A phalanx of cops, some in SWAT gear, descended on what they said was Almonte's apartment building on Borden Avenue, near 25th Street, in Long Island City, police and the MTA said, and the Queens-Midtown Tunnel was shut down for at least an hour as police set up checkpoints in their hunt for the suspect.
Almonte, an employee at Swing Staging in Long Island City, according to a company manager, allegedly stole the first car just after 9:30 a.m., police said. He allegedly flashed a gun and forced a man out of a black Mercedes near 21-27 Borden Ave., then sped off toward 51st Avenue and 11th Street, where he dumped the car.
Next Almonte allegedly carjacked a Lexus from another driver at Van Dam Street and Thompson Avenue, abandoned that car near 38th Street and Hunters Point Avenue, and stole a gold-colored vehicle at 49th Street and 50th Avenue in Sunnyside, police said.
The third car had not been recovered as of Thursday afternoon, but cops said Almonte was likely on foot. It was not clear what sparked the spree, during which there were no injuries.
"I would've never expected this from him," said Michael Stacey, 47, who said he works as a fleet manager at Swing Staging. "He's calm, cool, does his job, works hard. He was at work today."
The suspect, whom his coworkers dubbed Bebop because "he always sings to himself," was a "kind of happy, go-lucky guy," Stacey said who was "excited he had just got his CDL license" to become a truck driver.
However, the gunman also allegedly had a darker side. At times, he was prone to bouts of anger, during which he shouted and "tried to start fights," Stacey said. "He goes off the wall."
On Thursday morning, though, "he was his normal self doing what he's supposed to do," the fleet manager said.
Swing Staging, based at 49-47 31st St., was in the process of opening a new location on Borden Avenue, next door to the suspect's home, Stacey said. The alleged gunman had worked for years for the company, which builds scaffolding and rigging equipment.
Anyone with information in regards to this individual is asked to call the NYPD's Crime Stoppers Hotline at 800-577-TIPS. The public can also submit their tips by logging onto the Crime Stoppers Website at WWW.NYPDCRIMESTOPPERS.COM or texting their tips to 274637(CRIMES) then enter TIP577.