On June 10, police responded to a report in the area of Park Lane South and Woodhaven Boulevard, where 23-year-old Queens man Diego Piedrahita was discovered with trauma to his head and unconscious. Medical personnel pronounced him dead at the scene.
In conjunction with the suspicious death – which has been ruled a homicide – police are looking for Zoltan Forai, who also goes by the name Stephen. He’s been known to frequent the area near the bandshell and Victory Field in Forest Park. He’s also known to be an associate of the deceased, but their relationship was unclear at press time.
Forai is described as a 44-year-old man, approximately 5'7” tall, approximately 170 pounds with brown eyes, brown hair and a beard.
The murder, in conjunction with two recent shootings in Woodhaven, prompted a discussion of safety at the Woodhaven Residents' Block Association Meeting on June 11.
“I know there’s been a lot going on, high-profile cases,” Officer Jose Severino told the residents. “I understand your frustrations and you’re probably wondering what’s going on, but we have leads in most of these crimes. I know it’s just a bad wave right now, it’s not just us.”
Severino noted it seems like there’s been a rise in gun violence across the city recently, and it’s not just exclusive to the 102nd Precinct. He added that, overall, crime is down approximately 10 percent in the precinct’s jurisdiction.
The prevailing fear from the residents is that they’ll be caught in the gun violence of others. One resident said she was afraid of going to get a carton of milk on Jamaica Avenue at night if there’s a chance of gunfire opening up.
Severino assured residents that they were working to address the violence along with outside help from other agencies.
Also in attendance at the meeting was Councilwoman Elizabeth Crowley, who represents a portion of Woodhaven. While updating her constituents on the progress of various capital projects, she also addressed the issues of violence that seems to be plaguing the area.
“I wanted to be here partly because I heard about the very sad and disturbing news of a young man found dead in Forest Park,” she told her constituents. “Safety in Forest Park is so important. I myself often run in the park, so I want to make sure there are no perpetrators.”
Crowley said that she and the other elected officials are working alongside the police department.
“We’ve been on top of the 102nd Precinct to make sure they have control there,” she said. “It is very disturbing and we’ll be working to try and find more information”
Crowley is also working alongside Assemblyman Mike Miller to make sure all the security cameras are properly installed in the park.
Angel Vazquez, a representative for Miller’s office, said that the first stage took longer than expected because they had to fight with the NYPD to get the cameras in Forest Park. There have been other administrative delays regarding the location of the cameras, which Miller’s office hopes will be installed soon.