NEW YORK (CBSNewYork) — It took a while, but the NYPD finally got its man.
Nicolas Almonte, 27, had been wanted for questioning related to a series of carjackings and robberies, a violent spree that started Thursday morning in Queens. He was apprehend in Greenpoint, Brooklyn, early in the evening, CBS 2 learned.
Greenpoint is just across the Newtown Creek from where the carjackings took place in Hunters Point, WCBS 880’s Peter Haskell reported.
Before police caught up with Almonte at around 6 p.m., residents said they noticed the suspect acting disoriented.
“I was like ‘I can’t help you, I’m gonna call the police.’ He said, ‘God sent me to you,’” witness Sybil Jason told CBS 2’s Dave Carlin.
“He kept saying, ‘I need bread. I need bread.'”
Police said the suspect carjacked three vehicles, robbed four people, waved a gun at six others, totally terrorizing an otherwise quiet neighborhood, police told CBS 2’s Tony Aiello.
“As soon as he opened the door, he held up to him the gun and said ‘give me the money,'” one of the victims’ friends said.
The carjacking spree began at 9:37 a.m., police said. That’s when police responded to a 911 call from Borden Avenue near 21st Street. A woman told police she had been carjacked at gunpoint in her 2006 Mercedes SLK280. The suspect, an Hispanic man, drove around for a few minutes before she jumped out of the car near Queens Plaza by Thompson Avenue and Vandam Street, police said.
Meanwhile, the suspect ditched the Mercedes, which police later recovered. He tried to carjack a white Ford Econoline van but wasn’t successful, police said.
At 10:01 a.m., police were called to Thompson Avenue and Vandam Street, where the same suspect carjacked a gray 2007 Lexus. Police found the car nearby at 38th Street and Hunters Point Avenue.
A few minutes later, at 10:07 a.m., the suspect tried to rob a woman walking her dog at 50th Avenue and 39th Street, police said. The suspect told the woman he wanted her car keys and ran off when she told him she didn’t have any, police said.
At 10:20 a.m., the suspect robbed a man at gunpoint on 38th Street and Hunters Point Avenue, police said. The man was robbed of his cash.
At 10:30 a.m., the suspect carjacked the driver of a 1996 Gold Mercedes C280 at Greenpoint Avenue and 39th Street. The victim, a 55-year-old man, had just left Steve Massis’ auto body shop.
“As soon as he walked out, he started running, coming back screaming, ‘No!’ He called my name ‘Steve! Steve! Come out!’ So I come out, and he’s shaken up,” Massis told CBS 2’s Aiello.
So far, police have not recovered that car.
Police had set up several roadblocks in and around Long Island City.
Police also flooded Borden Avenue where Almonte works at an industrial yard and lives in a small building next door. Yellow police tape and uniformed officers have been outside of 2520 Borden Ave., where police said Almonte lives.
People who know him said he’s hardworking.
“I saw him this morning very happy, he was working!” one person said.
Almonte works at a scaffolding company.
“When you hear anything like this happen anywhere, you think it’s crazy,” the suspect’s boss told Haskell.
A neighbor who spoke through a window told CBS 2’s Aiello that Almonte takes medicine to control mood swings.
“Normally he’s a nice person. Like I said, when he’s taking his pills, [he’s a] beautiful heart person, but when he’s not on it, you gotta watch out for [him],” Esteban Tineo said.
Anyone with information is asked to call the NYPD’s Crime Stoppers Hotline at 800-577-TIPS. You can also submit tips by logging onto the Crime Stoppers Website, or text your tips to 274637(CRIMES) then enter TIP577.
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