Four people were arrested on disorderly conduct, resisting arrest and other charges after police attempted to break up a brawl early Sunday morning in the West End.
The incident occurred on West Beech and New Hampshire streets at 1:27 a.m., when two groups approached each other at the intersection and “started exchanging violent threats,” Police Commissioner Mike Tangney said in an email on Monday. A man from one group began fighting with another man from the other group.
“A fight ensued, but it happened as two officers were driving by the area,” Tangney said. “The officers stopped and broke up the fight when one of the combatants refused to stop, and he was arrested for disorderly conduct.”
“The police officers intervened, but the one guy just wouldn’t stop, and the rest of the group turned their anger toward police, while the other group just went away,” Tangney told the Herald.
The main suspect, Tangney said, was with three family members — a female and two males, all from Massapequa and Bethpage — who attempted to prevent his arrest. Christopher T. Ioannou and Minas J. Ioannou, both 21, were charged with disorderly conduct, while Gianna M. Ioannou, 20, was charged with resisting arrest and second-degree obstruction of governmental administration. Additionally, Minas Teddy Ioannou, 24, was charged with resisting arrest and disorderly conduct.
“All four were arrested,” Tangney said. “The actions of the three relatives caused a large crowd to gather, and pushing and shoving started among the spectators.”
Long Beach police contacted the Nassau County Police Department for assistance, and 10 NCPD officers arrived to help control the crowd. Additionally, Tangney said, a Nassau County police helicopter happened to be in the area at the time of the incident and also responded.
“The crowds were starting to get agitated, so we called in assistance right away,” Tangney said. “The entire incident lasted about 25 minutes. This was a great job by the LBPD patrol officers.”
No injuries were reported, and Tangney and LBPD spokesman Sgt. Brett Curtis dispelled rumors on social media that a stabbing had occurred during the fight. The fight did not take place at one of the local bars, Tangney said, though it was unclear where the groups had come from. The two groups, he added, did not know each other.
Quality of life a concern
The incident had many West End residents on edge, especially after a 25-year-old Oceanside man was slashed during an altercation on West Beech Street last month following an argument at a bar.
Bill Tansey, president of the West End Neighbors Civic Association, who lives nearby, said he heard the sirens and the helicopter hovering for about a half-hour early Sunday morning. Tansey and others maintain that the late-night fights and quality-of-life-issues in the West End — drunkenness, public urination, defecation, vomiting, drug use and noise — have become worse over the past few years.
“I think we need a few more police patrols, and the general feeling of the entire neighborhood down here is we don’t have enough of a police presence,” Tansey said. “All these incidents that are occurring are related to nighttime tourism, people who are visiting the bars after hours.”
Brendan Healy, chairman of WENCA’s committee on standards and quality of life, echoed those sentiments, saying that last weekend’s fight appeared to be part of a pattern of late-night violence.
“The residents are in fear because there was a stabbing several weeks back, and every weekend there are disturbances,” Healy said. “There’s the continued issue of non-residents who engage in nightlife tourism; who urinate in the streets, in front of houses, on private property. They commit lewd acts, and they’re creating disturbances. Residents don’t feel safe coming out at night.”
Sunday’s incident prompted residents to launch an online petition that had garnered more than 200 signatures as of Wednesday, calling on the city and the New York State Liquor Authority to address quality-of-life concerns. And a Facebook group called West End Quality of Life was created, and posted photos of late-night revelers trespassing and urinating on private property.
“We’re not trying to shut anybody down,” Healy said. “It’s about maintaining our quality of life and reducing the impact of late-night tourism of non-residents that negatively impact our community.”
Judi Vining, executive director of Long Beach AWARE, a local organization dedicated to preventing alcohol and substance abuse among young people, said that many of the quality-of-life issues stem from over-service of alcohol.
“I would say it’s a little more no-holds barred in the past couple of years that we hear more about fights that are clearly tied into over-drinking or other incidents, like public urination and the vomiting — we hear anecdotally more about that," Vining said. "And for us, that’s in our kids’ faces that normalizes this kind of behavior for them.”
One bar owner, who declined to be identified, said that a number of business owners are local residents who share the same quality-of-life concerns. Many of the bars, the owner said, are adequately staffed with security and well-trained bartenders.
“The businesses in this town have nothing but respect and love for this community — they’re your neighbors,” the owner said. “We’re not absentee owners, and care as much about the community as we do the businesses. These guys have bartenders who are trained not to serve people when they’re intoxicated. But if someone wants to be a jerk and urinate on your property, it’s something the bars can’t control.”
The West End Neighbors group has been working with the city and local business owners to address a number of concerns. Healy said that six West End businesses that serve alcohol — Minnesota’s, Castaway, the Beach House, Island Thyme, Baked by the Ocean and Blacksmith’s Breads — have agreed to a number of stipulations that the State Liquor Authority recently attached to their liquor licenses. They include restrictions on operating hours, times music can be played and forms of entertainment; and requirements for soundproofing, security and security camera placement.
Additionally, Healy said that WENCA has been working with Acting City Manager Rob Agostisi to re-establish a public safety commission that will look at quality-of-life issues across Long Beach. Agostisi did not immediately return a request for comment.
“I think the police do a great job with the resources they have, but it’s clear they can utilize more resources on the weekends for enforcement of quality-of-life issues and code enforcement,” Healy said.
At Wednesday's candidates forum at the Long Beach Public Library, City Council President Anthony Eramo said that crime in the city is down 39 percent. For his part, Tangney said that the Police Department had already stepped up its patrols in the West End, and that DWI arrests have increased due to “aggressive” enforcement. He did not immediately respond to a follow-up email asking how many patrols are allocated in the West End on the weekends.
“We do gear up for this time of year,” he said. “We’ve been staying on top of it. We’re going to continue to do our quality-of-life patrols on the weekends, and bicycle patrols on the weekends. Over the past few weekends, we put out more DWI patrols.”