Crime, an omnipresent topic of concern for many, came home directly and violently for some Huntington residents this year. For others, crime turned up in their driveways.
This fall, two particularly violent crimes occuring less than a week apart and outside Huntington claimed the lives of two residents.
On Sept. 29, Alison Russo-Elling, an EMS lieutenant with the Fire Department of New York and a longtime volunteer with the Huntington Community First Aid Squad, was stabbed to death on a street while on a lunchbreak near her stationhouse in Astoria, Queens. She was 61, and had planned to retire in a few months, having answered thousands of calls, including responding to the World Trade Center for the Sept. 11 attacks. She was buried after honors in Huntington and at the Tilles Center, and posthumously promoted to captain.The man accused of the violent crime, , 34, pleaded not guilty, and was indicted. A psychiatric evaulation was ordered.
Three days later, East Northport resident Paul Kutz was shot to death at a hotel in Poughkeepsie during parents weekend at Marist College. He was 53, an accountant, a Little League coach,and the father of three sons.
Roy Johnson, 35, has been charged with the killing. Police said he began randomly firing off shots in the hotel lobby after a dispute with a hotel clerk. He has been charged with multiple counts, including second-degree murder.
A GoFundMe campaign provided support for the family, including his wife, Nathalie, and sons Matt, Ryan and Sean.
Two Huntington Station men were shot to death after answering their doors; police said the two cases, which occurred three weeks apart, appeared to be unrelated.
Roquez Wilfredo Villata Jimenez, 32, was killed Aug. 27 on his doorstep on East 12th Street. Police said he was targeted but provided no further details.
On Aug. 2, Byron Martinez answered the door at his Fifth Avenue home and was shot dead. There was no immediate further information.
On July 19, a manager of a Huntington Village restaurant was severely beaten after he intervened to stop several men from harassing customers. Five men were arrested at the Vauxhall melee but customers and other business owners nearby described seeing five or six other men fleeing the scene before and after police arrived. The manager was hit over the head with a barstool and suffered a broken jaw, among other injuries.
The five arrested are due back in court in January on several charges: Naire Daniels, Jan.5; Hayden Charles, Jan. 24; Dashawn Andrews, Jan. 26; Carl A. Andrews, Jan.6; and Tapharye Charles, Jan. 6. Some are scheduled for multiple appearances and courts.
Others experienced the sense of personal violation that crime brings when they discovered that the catalytic converters were stolen from their cars parked in their driveways. Ring cameras and other security devices spotted numerous thieves who showed up in homeowners’ driveways in the middle of the night, and swiftly made off with the devices, which are valuable for the metals they contain. A huge increase in reports of the thefts culminated in the mid-December announcement by Nassau police that they had recovered thousands of catalytic converters in raids.
Suffolk police reported the arrests of several drivers on DWI and other charges, including at least two accused of striking police cars with their vehicles and another accused of seriously injuring his passenger in a DWI crash.
For some, justice was achieved as individuals were charged or sentenced in various fraud schemes.
In September, cyber criminals attacked the Suffolk County computer system, jamming phones and electronic services, from tax payments to legal services to individuals whose license information had been recorded for various traffic infractions.
In October, the Parkland school killer got life without parole; one of his victims was Scott Beigel, a Dix Hills native, who was a teacher at the Marjory Stoneman Douglas school when Nikolas Cruz entered the building and began shooting on Feb. 14, 2018.
There was some other good news: A puppy stolen from a petshop in Huntington Station was recovered unharmed and returned to the shop; Many celebrated the funding for the return of ShotSpotter to Huntington Station.