Rashed Mian

Rashed Mian has been covering local news for the Long Island Press since 2011. He graduated from Hofstra University in 2010 where he studied print journalism. Rashed, the staff's multimedia reporter, covers daily news for the web, shoots/edits feature videos and writes about civil liberties. He loves Afghan food and sports. Rashed is also a caffeine freak. Email: [email protected] Twitter: rashedmian

Citing Mom’s Cancer, ex-Suffolk Chief James Burke Asks Judge for No Prison Time

James Burke Suffolk County Police
Disgraced former Suffolk County Police Chief James Burke was arrested by federal agents Wednesday, Dec. 9, 2015 and indicted on civil rights violations and conspiracy charges. (Long Island Press)

Citing his 75-year-old mother’s long bout with cancer, ex-Suffolk County Police Chief James Burke begged a federal judge for leniency when he’s sentenced next week, saying it would be “unbearable” to be in prison while the family matriarch’s condition deteriorates.

In a letter to U.S. District Court Judge Leonard Wexler, Burke apologized for his discretions and played up his three decades on the police force, which ended last year in disgrace when Burke was arrested for beating a suspect and a twisted plot to cover it up. Burke, who is scheduled to be sentenced Wednesday, faces up to 51 months in prison under the plea deal. He has been held without bail since his arrest last December.

“The greatest consequence involves my mother,” a supposedly remorseful Burke wrote to Wexler. “She was a single mother who suffered through much tragedy in her life and made many sacrifices in raising me and my siblings. In 1999, at age 59, she was diagnosed with metastatic lung cancer. In what I considered the greatest quest of my life, I took control of her health care and was involved on a daily basis with her treatment. It is now 17 years later and she now 75 years old. Her situation is nothing short of a medical miracle. She is presently undergoing immunotherapy, is confined to a wheelchair and requires oxygen 24 hours a day. She struggled to write you a letter in her own hand.”

“It would be unbearable for me to be in prison as her condition deteriorated and she passes from this earth, severely restricted in my ability communicate,” he continued. “I suffered through a life-threatening illness when I was six weeks old. My mom and I have faired the direst of circumstances together. She does not deserve the consequences of dying while her oldest son, who has generally done good for most of his life, is in prison.”

In February, Burke pleaded guilty to federal civil rights violations and conspiracy charges for beating burglary suspect Christopher Loeb while the then-24-year-old was in police custody at the Fourth Precinct station house on Dec. 12, 2012. Burke’s subordinates were instructed to lie about the interrogation-room beating.

Loeb had been arrested for breaking into Burke’s police-issued SUV and stealing a duffel bag containing sex toys, porn, and Burke’s gun and ammunition belt when the altercation occurred.

A federal prosecutor said in court that Burke’s porn was the “motivation for beating the hell out of Loeb.”

In his plea to Wexler, Burke apologized to Loeb and the underlings entangled in cover up.

“I sincerely apologize to the victim, to my subordinates who I permitted to take part in these offenses, to my colleagues and those who entrusted me, to the men and women of the Suffolk County Police Department, to the citizens of Suffolk County and to you, Your Honor, for my actions,” he said.

Had Burke gone to trial, nearly a dozen officers would’ve testified to the beating, prosecutors claimed.

Burke retired three months prior to his arrest, securing a more than $430,000 retirement payout.

Burke is not the only high-profile member of Suffolk law enforcement to draw federal scrutiny. Since his arrest, reports have surfaced indicating investigators are also looking into alleged improprieties by the Suffolk District Attorney’s office.

With rumors hanging over Suffolk, County Executive Steve Bellone in May held a stunning news conference in which he called on Thomas Spota, the district attorney, to resign.

“For refusing to cooperate and work with federal law enforcement to prosecute crime in this county, for refusing and blocking federal law enforcement from working on the Gilgo Beach serial murder case, for allowing violent criminals to go free to protect political friends, for lying about Jim Burke and for conspiring to conceal his past…for violating your sacred oath and for using your position as the top law enforcement officer of this county, Tom Spota, you must resign from this office.”

That same day, Spota rebuffed Bellone’s calls to resign and suggested Bellone had requested he intercede on behalf of people the county executive was close to. An exercised Bellone held a follow-up press conference in which he called such claims “nonsense,” adding, “justice needs to be restored to this county.”

Two New Chick-fil-A Locations to Open on Long Island

Chick-fil-A Long Island
Chick-fil-A, popular for its chicken-only menu, will open two more locations on Long Island.

Chick-fil-A, the famed Atlanta-based fast food restaurant that specializes in all things chicken, will celebrate the grand opening of two new long-awaited locations on Long Island next week, the company announced.

The new locations in Hicksville and Commack will open their doors Thursday at 6:30 a.m. Fast food revelers will also have the opportunity to participate in Chick-fil-A’s “First 100” campaign, which culminates in a grand prize of one free Chick-fil-A meal every week for the entire year. (That’s 52 meals, folks.)

Chick-fil-A, which already enjoys support from a rabid fan base, will have three Long Island locations in total, including its Port Jefferson restaurant, which opened last year.

About 100 people camped outside of the Port Jefferson Chick-fil-A on its opening day last October, erecting tents and sharing stories with other fans about their obsession with the fast food giant.

Those seeking to grab a chicken sandwich at one of the two new locations next Thursday should expect similar crowds.

Chick-fil-A met resistance from LGBT groups when it first announced plans to spread its chicken empire to Long Island. The restaurant has been criticized for controversial donations its CEO has made to anti-gay groups and for the executive’s opposition to same-sex marriage. Despite the criticism, the Town of Brookhaven went ahead and approved the build and towns to their west have done the same.

Campers waited for 24 hours to be the first on line at the first Long Island Chick-fil-A (Photo by Katie Chuber)
Campers waited for 24 hours to be the first on line at the first Long Island Chick-fil-A (Photo by Katie Chuber)

The Hicksville Chick-fil-A has a prime spot outside of the Broadway Mall. The Commack spot is located along Commack Road, just north of the Long Island Expressway.

Those brave souls interested in winning free meals for the year must have a valid state-issued ID and must be 18 years or older. For more official rules, check out Chick-fil-A’s contest page.

Chick-fil-A is open from 6:30 a.m. to 10 p.m. As is customary, the restaurants are closed on Sunday.

Suffolk Police To Deploy License Plate Readers Amid Recent Gang Slayings In Brentwood

Brentwood gangs
Suffolk County Police Commissioner Tim Sini requested tips in the murder of two teens on Thursday, Sept. 15, 2016 (Long Island Press photo)

Suffolk County police plans to introduce a controversial new tool as part of its latest crackdown on violent gangs: automatic license plate readers.

The integration of the new surveillance technology in Brentwood, Central Islip and Bay Shore comes amid a spate of murders—six in total—since September. The half-dozen slayings are believed to be gang-related, authorities have said.

The department plans to roll out at least 50 license plate readers across the three communities, paid for with a $1 million state grant secured by State Assemb. Phil Ramos (D-Brentwood).

The short-term goal is to use the devices to solve open cases, officials said. But ultimately, authorities hope to “decimate the gangs that have committed these crimes,” Suffolk County Executive Steve Bellone said outside the department’s third precinct in Bay Shore Monday morning.

The police department has only recently begun discussions of selecting a vendor, Suffolk County Police Commissioner Tim Sini said, adding that the department additionally has the ability to collaborate with municipalities that have also expressed interest in the technology.

“This is a gigantic shot in the arm,” Sini told reporters. Speaking directly to gang members, he warned: “Do not commit crime in this area. We will catch you.”

Since the high-profile slayings, beginning in September, the department has aggressively targeted known gang members and boosted patrols in and around Brentwood.

Crackdown on Gangs

The latest anti-gang initiative began after the brutally beaten bodies of two best friends—15-year-old Nisa Mickens and 16-year-old Kayla Cuevas—were discovered in Brentwood just one day apart. Their murders are believed to be gang-related, police said. Authorities have since discovered skeletal remains of three missing teens on the grounds of Pilgrim Psychiatric Center on Crooked Hill Road, including that of 18-year-old Jose Pena-Hernandez, an alleged MS-13 gang member.

In the wake of Mickens’ and Cuevas’ murders, police have flooded the Brentwood area, increased patrols, and developed a list of known gang members that gang officers have used to target specific individuals, Sini said.

“This pressure is allowing us to gather unbelievable amount of information,” Sini said. “That’s why we have discovered certain crimes that have occurred in the Brentwood area.”

To date, 30 purported gang members have been arrested for various crimes, ranging from weapons possession to trespassing, Sini said. Additionally, five gang members have been taken into federal custody on racketeering charges. Sini reiterated Monday that the department will not release the names of those in federal custody until authorities believe doing so wouldn’t jeopardize investigations.

When gang violence in Suffolk ratcheted up nearly a decade ago, the crackdown then included rudimentary police work, such as traffic stops. But technology has progressed so much that police believe license plate readers can be used as a “virtual net” encircling the perimeter of targeted neighborhoods to make it difficult for known gang members to pass through unnoticed.

Ramos said the community has grown “weary” of the hastily arranged community meetings and ubiquitous task forces spawned from past slayings, characterizing such efforts as “lip service.”

“We need to get real about this problem and realize that we have to do more than talk about it,” Ramos told reporters.

Privacy Concerns

Civil liberties groups have expressed concern about the integration of plate readers because of the technology’s ability to suck up the plate numbers of every vehicle that passes through a virtual checkpoint. How the information is stored, and for how long, has also raised serious privacy questions. Anyone in possession of such data can access a specific vehicle’s travel history, and, for example, use it to ascertain the driver’s religious and political affiliation, thereby creating a profile of that person.

Ramos said it’s not Suffolk police’s goal to use the technology, which can be outfitted on patrol vehicles and on roadside poles, to monitor the community.

“We must respect the civil rights of our community,” he said. “Anybody that’s concerned with these cameras spying on them—they will absolutely not be used for anything other than solving a crime.”

In order to access the database, an officer would require very specific information, including a case number, officials said. Sini noted that the department would periodically run audits to analyze which officers accessed the database to ensure its proper use.

The three Suffolk communities won’t be the first on Long Island to use these devices.

The Village of Freeport installed more than two-dozen license plate readers around the perimeter of the community late last year, and within 90 days scanned an astounding 15 million license plates. The village lauded how it was able to issue more than 2,000 summonses over that time period and impound hundreds of cars as well as make several arrests related to stolen vehicles. In one instance, the readers helped catch a man wanted for murder in Virgina, village officials said.

But the department of less than 100 officers has reportedly been flooded with thousands of hits through its system, which can cross-reference up to 20,000 plate numbers per minute from federal and state motor vehicle records. The deluge has raised concerns about overburdening the village’s small police force.

In Suffolk, the plan is not to track every single hit, but to input case numbers in order to find specific individuals wanted for serious crimes.

“The residents of Brentwood, Bay Shore and Central Islip need not be concerned about these cameras unless one is committing a crime,” Ramos stressed.

“We need to get buy-in…this is an asset for the residents of Brentwood,” Sini added.

Officials will hold community meetings as the technology is rolled out to address concerns and obtain input.

In the meantime, police are continuing to put pressure on gangs, Sini said.

In the last month, violent crime is down 75-percent in Brentwood, he claimed, adding that the department is continuing to collect intelligence.

“You don’t stumble upon skeletal remains in a densely wooded area by accident,” he said.

(Featured photo: Suffolk County Police Commissioner Tim Sini requested tips in the murder of two Brentwood teens on Thursday, Sept. 15, 2016.)

How The Presidential Race Changed After Hofstra Debate

presidential debate

When the national press descended on Hofstra University’s campus in Hempstead nearly one month ago for the first presidential debate, the central question was how Donald Trump, a political novice, would fare against an experienced debater like Hillary Clinton.

When Trump competed against a crowded field in the GOP primaries, he proved adept at swatting away attacks and needling his opponents. His provocations would rattle even his more confident foes.

Perhaps the most maligned victim of Trump’s taunts was U.S. Sen. Marco Rubio (R-Fla.), who the businessman ridiculed for his diminutive height. Apparently flustered, the senator acquiesced to Trump’s dig, meekly replying, “Okay, Big Donald.” The retort was as bizarre as it was uninspiring. It essentially summed up the pitfalls Republicans faced when balancing a more offensive approach against taking the high road, while not coming across as weak amidst provocations from an unconventional candidate riding a wave of populous upheaval simmering for years since the election of Barack Obama.

So how would Trump respond when forced to go toe-to-toe with only one challenger for a full 90 minutes? Would he stay on the attack, and if so, how would the more-reserved Clinton react to his rebukes? At the time, the stakes were especially high. Both candidates arrived at Hofstra in a virtual dead heat, according to various polls released days before their first bout. Indeed, one poll even had Trump ahead by two points in a four-way race that included third-party candidates Jill Stein (G) and Gary Johnson (L).

A lot has changed since the most-watched debate in history. The former U.S. senator from New York and U.S. Secretary of State has built a seemingly commanding lead. Remarkably, she has made historically “red” states like Arizona and Utah competitive. Even Trump’s lead in the GOP stalwart state of Texas, which Republican Mitt Romney won by nearly 16 points in 2012, has been shaved to only six points. The New York Times forecast gives Clinton a 93 percent shot of winning the election. On the day of the first debate, Clinton’s chances of winning were at 70 percent. Similarly, FiveThirtyEight’s election forecast gives Clinton an 86 percent chance of becoming the next president.

If you’re in the Clinton camp, her widening lead in national polls and several surveys of hotly contested swing states is directly related to her impressive string of debate performances, starting with the Hofstra debate, and Trump’s subsequent flubs as a candidate—which they’d argue portends what a Trump presidency would look like.

Trump himself does not attribute his now tenuous position as a presidential candidate to any perceived debate miscues, but a corrupt and rigged system—of which the media is included—that has been hijacked in Clinton’s favor. Actually, Trump, even while calling into question America’s decentralized election system, cites unscientific online polls that indicate he won the debates, thus still very much in the race. Trump was buttressed this week by undercover video released by a conservative group in which Democratic operatives discuss instigating violence at Trump’s famously boisterous rallies. It’s not clear whether the operatives actually incited Trump supporters at any of his events.

The most noteworthy controversy that came up in the Hofstra debate was Trump’s refusal for years—even after Obama produced his birth certificate—to acknowledge the president’s citizenship. During the debate Clinton displayed an ability get under Trump’s skin, fact-checking him on his support for the Iraq War, which prompted a long-winded and at times incoherent rant about a private conversation he had with Fox News host and supporter Sean Hannity.

Since the Hofstra debate, more than a dozen women have publicly accused Trump of sexual assault, which the Department of Justice defines as “any type of sexual contact or behavior that occurs without the explicit consent of the recipient.” Trump was also beset by the release of a video in which he boasted that his celebrity allowed him to inappropriately touch women—“Grab them by the pussy,” he boasted on the tape—without repercussions.

Trump has since been dogged by the lewd remarks and allegations from women about inappropriate behavior. Despite her lead, Clinton has had to answer for the infamous Goldman Sachs speeches that appeared on WikiLeaks.com, as well as hundreds of emails associated with her campaign, and even dating back to her time as Secretary of State. Republicans have accused the State Department and the FBI of engaging in a quid-pro-quo over the classification status of some of her emails. Both the FBI and State Department have said nothing nefarious occurred.

Still, Clinton said in one private speech, among a slew of appearances she was paid handsomely for, that politicians require “both a public and private position” on hot-button issues, a position that would do little to quell concerns by a majority of Americans that find her untrustworthy. In one speech, Clinton advocated for having “open trade and open borders,” which in the third and final debate she claimed was in the context of energy policies.

Clinton rebuffed calls during the Democratic primary to release the transcripts of the speeches. Her then-rival, U.S. Sen. Bernie Sanders (D-Vt.), had chided Clinton for her coziness with Wall Street, which he and his supporters blame for the tremendous wealth gap in America.

In any other election, last-minute salacious revelations would likely tip the scale of the race. But there’s been no campaign quite like the 2016 race for the White House. The Republican nominee has been accused of being a demagogue, racist and misogynist, and the standard bearer of the Democratic party, a liar who should be jailed for her perceived inappropriate handling of classified material on her private email server while Secretary of State.

So, it’s apparent anything can happen. But with about 40-percent of the electorate estimated to vote before Election Day, and Trump’s campaign listing as it careens toward the finish line, Clinton may have built a large enough lead to stave off a dramatic comeback by Trump.

Remember where this race was four weeks ago: Trump gaining ground after a strong Democratic convention boost for Clinton. But since then, the trajectory of the race has taken a drastic turn. And it all started when the two candidates stepped off the debate stage at Hofstra University.

(Featured photo: First presidential debate at Hofstra University in Hempstead. Credit: Barbara Kinney for Hillary Clinton campaign)

Billy Joel to Open Renovated Nassau Coliseum

A rendering of what Forest City Ratner’s redeveloped arena would look like at Nassau Coliseum site.

Billy Joel will open the renovated Nassau Veterans Memorial Coliseum next spring, giving the “Piano Man” yet another high-profile gig at the arena where he holds the record for the most consecutive sold-out shows.

Nassau County Executive Ed Mangano made Joel’s opener official in a statement Tuesday, declaring, “There’s no better performer suited to reopen the transformed” Coliseum.

It was Joel, of course, who closed the original Coliseum in August 2015 before it was shuttered ahead of an ongoing $261-million renovation.

The lifelong Long Island entertainer performed 32 shows at the 43-year-old Uniondale arena, and, in 1998, set the record for most consecutive sold-out shows in one year with nine.

His much-anticipated performance inside the new building is slated for April 5, 2017, officials said.

Tickets will go on sale at 10 a.m. this Friday, officials said. American Express members get an exclusive opportunity to claim seats for the gig on Thursday, between 10 a.m. through 10 p.m.

When Joel bid farewell to the Coliseum more than a year ago, he played before several dignitaries, including Gov. Andrew Cuomo.


Brett Yormark, CEO of Brooklyn Sports & Entertainment, which will operate the refurbished Nassau Coliseum, said the building is in the final phase of construction and “will soon be ready to rock again.”

“April 5 is a celebration for Long Island, and it’s spectacular venue, which will revive the area as a vibrant entertainment market,” Yormark said in a statement.

Unlike the original Coliseum, which opened in 1972, the renovated version will not have a professional sports team as an anchor. The New York Islanders have since moved to Brooklyn’s Barclays Center after several failed attempts by the organization to build a new arena and transform the surrounding area.

Once re-opened, the revived Coliseum will boast 13,000 seats for preseason Islanders games, 13,500 for an NBA development league associated with the Brooklyn Nets, and 14,500 for concerts.

LIRR Derailment: Work Train Impeded Passenger’s Train Space, Officials Say

LIRR derailment

The morning after a frightening crash that caused a Long Island Rail Road train carrying 600 passengers to derail Saturday evening, officials took a moment to breathe a sigh of relief that most people escaped without any serious injuries.

“When you look at the actual damage to this situation, this silver lining is we’re fortunate that more people weren’t seriously hurt,” Gov. Andrew Cuomo said Sunday morning after surveying the wreckage. “The damage to the train cars is extensive and we have had a number of injuries, but frankly, that we didn’t lose any lives is something to be thankful for.”

In total, 33 people were injured, 26 of whom were passengers, officials said. Four of the injuries were classified as serious. One passenger suffered broken bones and was forced to undergo surgery.

Although the crash is currently under investigation, officials were able to shed more clarity on the crash, which occurred just after 9 p.m. in New Hyde Park.

Cuomo said the passenger train and a work train were running in the same direction when they sideswiped each other, causing three of the passenger train’s cars to careen off the tracks.

The passenger train “was where it was supposed to be,” officials said, adding that the work train appeared to have intruded on the other train’s path.

MTA Chairman Thomas F. Prendergast said the work train was being used for maintenance on an inoperable track.

“One of the last steps is that piece of equipment going back and forth and I think they had completed and they were going to make a move east with all of the work equipment and clear up,” he said. “Why it ended up where it did…that’s what we need to find out in the investigation.”

The work of ascertaining how it came to be that the work train apparently impeded the passenger train will be left to the National Transportation Safety Board, the agency responsible for investigating transportation-related incidents.

Crews work to clean up site of LIRR derailment on Saturday, Oct. 8, 2016 in New Hyde Park. (Photo credit: New York Governor's office)
Crews work to clean up site of LIRR derailment on Saturday, Oct. 8, 2016 in New Hyde Park. (Photo credit: New York Governor’s office)

Cuomo urged everyone to exercise caution and let investigators examine the crash site before drawing any conclusions.

“Once we have the facts from NTSB, anything the LIRR can learn from the incident, we will learn,” the governor said.

Cuomo was effusive in his praise for first responders considering they were working under darkness and were at a disadvantage because the track was sitting on a steep hill.

He said crews will focus on removing the debris and the damaged trains with the hope of getting the train back in service. With Monday being Columbus Day, the railroad is expecting lighter ridership, which could help relieve the stress of the painstaking work ahead, officials acknowledged.

Cuomo said additional state resources have been ordered to assist the LIRR.

“If we have to work all day and all night long, we will because we want to make sure tomorrow’s commute is as normal and as easy as possible,” Cuomo said.

Service remained suspended on the LIRR’s Oyster Bay branch due to the crash.

The railroad released the following instructions to customers using its service:

Huntington/Port Jefferson Branch
Port Jefferson – Hicksville Customers
The LIRR has established limited alternate service to/from stations Hicksville through Port Jefferson with a diesel shuttle train that will operate between Hicksville and Babylon, then train transfers at Hicksville to/from Huntington and points east.

Westbound customers will take a westbound train to Hicksville. There, they will board a diesel train to Babylon, which will travel along the ‘Central Branch.’ At Babylon, transfer to a westbound train to New York.

Eastbound customers should take an eastbound train to Babylon. There, they will board a diesel train to Hicksville, which will travel along the ‘Central Branch.’ At Hicksville, transfer to an eastbound train to Huntington and points east.

To avoid delays, customers are advised to use the Montauk or Babylon Branches

Westbury – New Hyde Park Customers
The LIRR is providing limited bus service between Jamaica and the New Hyde Park, Merillon Avenue, Mineola, Carle Place & Westbury Stations.

Westbound customers will take a westbound bus to Jamaica, then transfer to trains for service to points west.

Eastbound customers should take an eastbound train to Jamaica. There, they transfer to a bus for service to New Hyde Park, Merillon Ave., Mineola, Carle Place & Westbury.

To avoid busing and delays, customers are advised to use the Hempstead Branch.

(Featured photo credit: New York Governor’s office)

LIRR Derailment: 29 Injured in Railroad Crash in New Hyde Park

Long Island Rail Road Station. (Photo by Joe Abate)

More than two dozen people were injured when a Long Island Rail Road train derailed in New Hyde Park Saturday night, officials said.

Luckily, there were no fatalities and the most serious injuries—29 in total—were related to broken bones and lacerations, officials said.

“The good news here is no fatalities,” Nassau County Executive Ed Mangano said.

The county executive said an LIRR train was traveling eastbound when it crashed into a work train. It was unclear if the work train was idle.

The derailment is currently under investigation, he added.

Gov. Andrew Cuomo said approximately 600 passengers were on board at the time of the derailment, which spawned service disruptions on the Ronkonkoma, Oyster Bay and Port Jefferson branches. Service was also suspended between Jamaica and Hicksville—one of the railroad’s busiest branches. LIRR riders were advised to use Montauk, Babylon and Hempstead lines.

The Long Island Rail said uninjured passengers were being taken to New Hyde Park Village Hall on Stewart Avenue.

“Staff from the MTA and the LIRR are on the scene and will work around the clock to determine the cause of this derailment and restore service as quickly as possible,” Cuomo said in a statement.

Photos on social media showed a mangled train car and twisted metal as a result of the crash.

A brief video posted by a Twitter user showed people in relative calm and emergency lights blaring in the background.

Hurricane Matthew Expected to Spare Long Island

Hurricane Matthew
This visible-light image of Hurricane Matthew was taken from NOAA's GOES-East satellite at 7:45 a.m. EDT on Oct. 4, 2016, within the hour of landfall in western Haiti. (Credits: NASA/NOAA GOES Project)

It looks like Long Island could be spared from Hurricane Matthew’s wrath.

The massive hurricane, which is embarking on dangerous path toward the Bahamas and the south eastern coast of the US, is projected to make an eastward jog into the Atlantic Ocean early next week, sparing Long Island from the storm’s destructive force.

Brian Ciemnecki, a meteorologist for the National Weather Service in Upton, told the Press that the current track has Matthew veering east after passing through the Carolinas. It’s also unlikely that Long Island would experience any residual impact from the powerful hurricane, Ciemnecki said.

“At this time it seems unlikely” LI would receive any rain, Ciemnecki said. “While it seems unlikely at this time the forecast can still change and there’s still maybe some uncertainty to this.”

Matthew is currently churning north, north-west at 10 mph and carrying maximum sustained winds of 115 mph, according to the National Hurricane Center.

While Long Island could breathe a sight of relief—for now—coastal neighborhoods in Florida and the Carolinas are bracing for significant damage.

There have been reports of residents flooding supermarkets for the usual goods in case of prolonged outages, and drivers flocking to gas stations, spawning long lines.

State of emergencies have been declared in Florida, Georgia and North and South Carolina.

Matthew has already been blamed for at least 11 deaths in the Caribbean.

Relief agencies have been particularly concerned about the situation in Haiti, which is still recovering from the devastating earthquake that rocked the country in 2010 and left as many as 55,000 people in shelters, according to the United Nations. The earthquake killed an estimated 200,000 people.

After Matthew ripped through the vulnerable Caribbean nation Tuesday, cutting off major arteries and decimating communication systems, relief agencies reported facing obstacles in their attempts to reach those devastated by the storm.

The National Hurricane Center warned that Matthew could strengthen as it cuts through the Bahamas on its way to the Florida coast. The agency said tropical storm or hurricane conditions could impact Georgia, South Carolina and North Carolina later this week or by the weekend.

Although Long Island is not in danger of receiving a serious blow from Matthew, the region is in desperate need of rainfall.

From June to September, the amount of rainfall on Long Island came in at 7 inches below normal, according to the National Weather Service.

So, bring on some rain—but keep the hurricanes away.

Found Body ID’d as Missing Shoreham Boy

A body discovered Wednesday morning has been identified as that of a missing Shoreham boy, Suffolk County police said.

Police said 14-year-old Nickolas Donnelly was last seen 10 a.m. Tuesday at his Chambord Court home before he went out for a run.

His body was found in a wooded area about a mile away near Royal Way in Shoreham at 7:50 a.m. Wednesday. Investigators deemed his death non-criminal.

On Tuesday night, police had released a photo of the teen when he was reported missing.

Cops Identify Pair in Commack Motor Inn Murder-Suicide

Commack Motor Inn Murder-Suicide
Suffolk County police are investigating a murder-suicide at Commack Motor Inn. (Photo: thecommackmotorinn.com)

The two people found dead in an apparent murder-suicide at the Commack Motor Inn last week have been identified as 31-year-old Omar Torres and 29-year-old Yesenia Abreu, both from Glendale, Queens.

Suffolk County police believe Torres killed Abreu before turning a gun on himself last Wednesday afternoon.

Their lifeless bodies were discovered by a motel employee who went to inspect the room after the pair failed to checkout.

Nearly a week into the investigation, police are only clear about how Torres died—a self-inflicted gunshot wound. Abreu’s cause of death remains undetermined, police said, adding that detectives are still awaiting autopsy results from the Suffolk County Medical Examiner’s office.

A police spokeswoman said Tuesday that Torres and Abreu had gone through occasions in which they were romantically involved.

Investigators are still trying to determine where Torres got the gun and how much time elapsed from when Abreu was killed and Torres committed suicide.

Torres did not leave a suicide note, the spokeswoman said.

Neither Torres nor Abreu were reported missing prior to their deaths, police said.

hofstra transfer day today
hofstra transfer day today