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Mugger Robs Elderly Blind Man Twice in Queensbridge Houses, Cops Say

Suspect Wanted in 114th Precinct Robberies
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LONG ISLAND CITY — A heartless mugger robbed an elderly blind man twice in his Queensbridge Houses apartment within two weeks — and the most recent of the vicious home invasion attacks left the victim unconscious, police said.

The robberies, along with several other recent crimes in the neighborhood, have put residents at the Long Island City housing development on edge. Tenants are planning to hold an emergency meeting Thursday night to discuss safety precautions, particularly for senior and disabled residents.

"This is a tragedy," said April Simpson, president of the Queensbridge Houses Tenants Association. "We have so many seniors living in this housing complex and we want to make them aware."

Cops said the suspect followed the victim into his apartment in both cases.

The first robbery took place the morning of June 29, when the suspect followed the 73-year-old victim from behind and snatched a chain off his neck.

The same thief targeted the man again on Tuesday afternoon, when he forced his way into the victim's apartment, grabbed him by the throat and threw him to floor, knocking him out.

The suspect — described by cops as a man in his 20s wearing a black t-shirt, blue jeans, sneakers and a Yankees hat — stole electronic equipment from the apartment before fleeing.

Simpson said the victim, who has lived in the Queensbridge Houses for years and frequently attends programs at the senior center, was treated at Mount Sinai Hospital after the incident but has since returned home and is doing well.

"He's one of the nicest men," she said. "It's such a shame."

Longtime resident Ray Normandeau, who runs a news website for the Queensbridge Houses and is himself legally blind, said he was alarmed by the robberies because the suspect appeared to have purposefully chosen the victim for his vulnerability.

"A blind man can't be a witness — he can only identify him by his voice," Normandeau said.

Tenants say the robberies are the latest in a string of crimes plaguing the NYCHA complex: a livery cab driver was robbed by gunpoint in the neighborhood on Saturday, and a teenage girl was shot in the shoulder in the courtyard of a Queensbridge Houses building last month.

Simpson said she had a close call of her own on July 5, when gunfire broke out in front of her building and she was nearly grazed by a stray bullet.

"Once the bullet went past my ear I heard a 'ping' like it ricocheted off something," she said, saying cops later found the bullet lodged in her neighbor's air conditioner.

Thursday's emergency tenants meeting, which will be held at the Queensbridge Houses' community center at 7 p.m., will discuss the recent violence and what residents can do to keep themselves safe, Simpson said.

"We want to address a lot of issues. We need to take our community back and become more active with cooperating — not only with the police, but with each other," she said.

"We're trying to address this as soon as possible so we can maybe prevent something worse."

Anyone with information is asked to call Crime Stoppers at (800) 577-TIPS (8477). The public can also submit their tips online at www.nypdcrimestoppers.com or by texting tips to CRIMES (274637), then enter TIP577. All calls are confidential.