NEW YORK (CBSNewYork) — Police said a suspect threw a bottle with a chemical in an officer’s face in Astoria, Queens late Sunday – as officers pursued him in three violent attacks, one of which left a liquor store owner dead.
As CBS2’s Brian Conybeare reported, James Patrick Dillon, 23, was hospitalized late Sunday after the officers shot and wounded him 36th Street in Queens, police said. The string of violent incidents left the neighborhood in a state of shock.
“This has been a very unusual day here in Astoria,” said NYPD Queens North Assistant Chief Diane Pazzouti.
Dillon was spotted around 5:11 p.m., when he was allegedly spotted by a witness trying to break into an apartment on 42nd Street in Astoria, police said. Police found Dillon around 5:45 p.m. outside 25-38 36th St., armed with a knife and a Corona beer bottle full of flammable liquid, police said.
As WCBS 880’s Stephanie Colombini reported, police said officers ordered Dillon to drop the knife and he refused. He then sprayed the officers with the liquid and burned the hands, police said.
At that point, the officers opened fire on the suspect, police said,
Multiple shots were fired by officer, and Dillon was injured by at least one of several shots fired by officers, police said.
Both the officers were injured and one of them had to be decontaminated by paramedics.
The knife he’d been holding was found in the backyard of his parents’ home, police said.
Police believe Dillon slashed a woman, stabbed a man to death, and stabbed another man earlier in the day. He also allegedly set at least one of the men on fire.
Around 11:30 a.m. Sunday, police were called around 11:30 a.m. to the scene of an assault at 25-69 36th St. in Queens, and found that a 39-year-old woman had been slashed in the head and face by a man who fled the scene, police said.
The woman, described as Dillon’s neighbor, was taken to Mount Sinai Hospital for treatment, police said.
Around 3:09 p.m., police were called to the scene of another assault, this time at Astoria Liquors and Wines at 38-18 Astoria Blvd. near Steinway Street. Police alleged Dillon stabbed George Patouhas, the 55-year-old owner of the store, slitting his throat.
He was pronounced dead at Mount Sinai Hospital, police said.
The suspect also stabbed 61-year-old homeless man and tried to set him on fire in the store, police alleged. He was taken to NewYork-Presbyterian/Weill Cornell Medical Center in critical condition, police said.
A small arson fire was also set inside the liquor store, police said.
One regular customer at the liquor store told CBS2 he spoke to the owner, named George, on Saturday night.
“He told me there was people bothering him,” said Frank O’Connor. “And one guy’s leaving town, and this other guy was bothering him.”
Neighbors said the store owner would go out of his way to help anyone, and may have been protecting a friend named Julio from the attacker.
“He would defend someone — that’s George,” said a man named Sam who lives in the building.
As 1010 WINS’ Carol D’Auria reported, a source said Dillon is bipolar and was off his medication.
Meanwhile, Doreen Nasr has known Dillon, whose nickname in the neighborhood was “Soda Pop,” since he was a child.
“He threatened me,” Nasr said. “He said, ‘If you talk to my parents I’ll kill you.’”
In an exclusive interview with CBS2, Nasr said Dillon was always troubled and once attacked her son.
“When he punched my son and knocked him on the floor right in front of me, right here in the living room, that was the last straw – do not come back,” Nasr said, “and I told my son to stay away from him. There’s going to be trouble because he acted crazy.”
Police continued to investigate late Sunday evening, and 36th Street remained closed at Astoria Boulevard.