FOR BREAKING NEWS VISIT WWW.QNS.COM MARCH 15, 2018 • THE QUEENS COURIER 11
Social media posts about suspicious man sends Whitestone into frenzy
BY SUZANNE MONTEVERDI
email@example.com / @smont76
Th e 109th Precinct sought to reassure
Whitestone residents that their kids
were safe aft er numerous social media
posts claimed that a suspicious man had
allegedly approached local children and
tried to get inside a public school.
Residents and parents took to Facebook
groups in the Whitestone area this week
to express concern with rumors circulating
about a man who allegedly attempted
to gain access to P.S. 184, located at
21st Road and 163rd Street, during school
hours. One rumor claimed that the school
had gone into lockdown for a time as a
result of the incident.
One post with photos of the individual
also began being circulated on social
media, with allegations he was previously
seen in the area trying to engage young
people in conversation.
As the allegations continued to swirl on
the pages, offi cers from the 109th Precinct
also took to social media to clear the air.
In a post on its offi cial Facebook page
on March 7 at around 3 p.m., the precinct
said the school did not go into a lockdown
that day, as some parents reported; however,
offi cers were onsite earlier that day
to investigate a trespassing complaint.
Th e individual in question, identifi ed
26-year-old Whitestone resident John
Mariani, was then “located, questioned
and found to have NOT committed a
crime,” the post noted. Authorities also
asked residents to stop circulating his
photo on social media.
Just three hours aft er the 109th Precinct
posted on Facebook, however, authorities
made a new post stating that offi cers had
arrested Mariani for disorderly conduct.
He was taken into custody in front of the
Terrace Inn at Francis Lewis and Willets
Point Boulevards that same aft ernoon,
law enforcement sources said.
No information about his behavior
leading up to the arrest was provided.
Authorities also noted that the man had
been at an area hospital the night before
and released in the morning.
“We want to ensure you that we are
committed to the safety of our residents.
And we want to keep you abreast of all
information regarding this individual,”
the post reads. “Th ank you all for your
Representatives from the city
Department of Education’s (DOE)
District 25, which encompasses P.S. 184,
commented on the thread to thank the
precinct for its “continued support.”
“Th e safety of students and staff is
our top priority and we are working
closely with NYPD to increase patrol
around PS 184 in Queens,” DOE spokesperson
Photo via Google Maps
Miranda Barbot said. “All students
and staff are safe, and we will continue
to monitor this situation to ensure
the school community is fully supported.”
Many of those with concerns attended
District 25’s monthly Community
Education Council meeting on March 8
Th e 109th Precinct’s “Sector D” meeting,
part of the NYPD’s Neighborhood
Policing initiative, will take place at St.
Luke’s Church at 16-34 Clintonville St. on
March 15 at 7:30 p.m. Residents can also
attend this meeting to pose questions and
concerns directly to offi cers.
The location of Mariani’s March 7 arrest
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