As we welcome 2019, it’s time for a look back at some of the stories that made headlines in New York City in 2018.
Explosive Devices Sent To CNN, Prominent Democrats and Trump Critics
A Florida man is accused of sending a series of explosive devices through the mail targeting critics of President Donald Trump. The spate of mailings began on Oct. 23 when a suspicious device was found in the mail of the Bedford, NY home of billionaire philanthropist George Soros. Additional devices were mailed to Bill and Hillary Clinton, CNN (forcing the evacuation of their Time Warner Center headquarters), actor Robert de Niro, and more. Cesar Sayoc was arrested within a week of the mailings being discovered. Fortunately no one was injured. Officials praised the resilience of New Yorkers, who seemed to take the entire episode in stride.
#JusticeForJunior: Friends, Family Mourn Teen Fatally Stabbed In Apparent Case Of Mistaken Identity In The Bronx
Perhaps no story solicited more outrage in New York City than the brutal summertime murder of Lesandro Guzman-Feliz outside a bodega in the Bronx. The boy, nicknamed “Junior,” who dreamed of one day being a New York City detective was fatally slashed in the Belmont section by members of the vicious “Trinitario” street gang in what investigators have called a tragic case of mistaken identity. The heartless killing spawned the viral #JusticeForJunior hashtag and dominated local headlines for several weeks. Police would go on to arrest 14 people in connection to the crime, each of whom have pleaded not guilty. Their trial is expected to begin as early as February.
Amazon Announces Part Of 2nd Headquarters Will Be In Long Island City
After a year-long nationwide competition which had cities across the United States vying to become home to Amazon’s second headquarters, Long Island City was chosen as one of the two winners. Gov. Andrew Cuomo and Mayor Bill de Blasio hailed the deal as cementing New York’s status as a tech center and saying the decision will mean thousands of jobs for New Yorkers. It didn’t take long before the decision drew a public backlash, with many questioning why billions in tax incentives were being offered to such a successful company.
Kate Spade, Anthony Bourdain Suicides Leave Fans Stunned, Spark National Conversation
The June suicide of designer Kate Spade sent shockwaves throughout the fashion world, and the streets of New York. She turned a bag into a billion dollar brand, as her handbags created a huge sensation in the fashion industry in the 1990s. Her sister went on to disclose that Spade – whose real name was Kate Brosnahan – suffered from mental health issues and did not receive the proper care.
Their deaths sparked a national conversation about suicide prevention and mental health.
Editor’s note: The National Suicide Prevention Lifeline number is 1-800-273-8255. You can also learn more and chat with them online by clicking here.
Outrage Over New York City Public Housing
The year began in all-too-familiar way for some New York City Housing Authority residents: No heat or hot water. It was a situation that would play out over and over again throughout the year. The revelation that the agency repeatedly falsified reports about lead paint inspections prompted calls for top-to-bottom change. Gov. Andrew Cuomo and Mayor Bill de Blasio feuded about how to fix the agency as its head stepped down.
The federal government stepped in, forcing NYCHA to pay billions to settle claims it used dirty tricks to hide problems and Cuomo declared a public health emergency over lead levels. A judge ultimately rejected the city’s $2.2 billion settlement with the feds and de Blasio unveiled a public-private partnership he argues will bring repairs to 62,000 NYCHA units. New York City now has until the end of January to come up with a plan to fix the public housing nightmare before the federal government takes over.
Upstate Limo Crash Kills 20
New York and the nation were stunned by the death of 18 passengers and two pedestrians in an horrific limousine crash upstate. The victims were celebrating a birthday when the limo missed a turn and wrecked, killing all inside. It was later revealed that the limo had failed an inspection a month prior to the crash and the driver did not have the appropriate license for operating that type of vehicle. The operator of the company was ultimately arrested and charged with criminally negligent homicide.
New York Politics Gets Liberal Jolt: Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez; Cuomo Moves To The Left After Challenge From Cynthia Nixon; Democrat Wins on Staten Island
The 2018 election season saw rising star power from New York’s Democrats, but the results left even some experts surprised. Former “Sex In The City” star Cynthia Nixon took her first foray into running a political campaign to challenge New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo — including a heated debate seen on CBS2 — but the veteran politican easily held in the primary.
Also happening that election night, 28-year-old Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez landed a major political upset after defeating U.S. Rep. Joseph Crowley in the House Democratic primary for District 14. She had never before held political office and ran much of her campaign while working as a bartender at Flats Fix in Union Square. Crowley, who outspent her 18 to 1, had been considered a potential successor to House minority leader Nancy Pelosi.
Coming out of the November election, New York City public advocate Letitia “Tish” James had a historic win in the race for attorney general, becoming the first black woman to win a major party statewide nomination in New York.
Big Moves For #MeToo: Schneiderman, Weinstein
The #MeToo movement has brought serious allegations against some of the most well-known men in the United States; from Bill Cosby to Supreme Court Justice Brett Kavanaugh. The nationwide call for justice from female assault victims also took its toll on some notable New Yorkers. State attorney general Eric Schneiderman resigned in May over allegations he physically abused four women, including his former girlfriend Michelle Manning Barish.
Film producer – and Flushing native – Harvey Weinstein was indicted on rape and criminal sex act charges after several women in the Hollywood community came forward to allege Weinstein used his position to intimidate them into sex. Despite allegations of witness tampering by Weinstein’s team, a judge ruled in December that the criminal trial against the disgraced movie mogul will move forward in 2019.
Transit Mess In The Tri-State Area Goes From Bad To Worse
While 2017 may have been the so-called “Summer of Hell,” but 2018 was equally miserable from start to finish for commuters in the Tri-state area.
Problems for NJ TRANSIT, the MTA, and LIRR became a daily talking point for countless travelers in New York and New Jersey. The year-long transit disaster hit rock bottom several times, as constant equipment failures brought traffic to a standstill at Penn Station again and again. Tempers would boil over in a nightmare year for NJ TRANSIT, with passengers losing their cool over multiple power failures, service changes, and fewer answers to explain the dysfunction. Even Amtrak was marred by a number of embarrassing incidents; one leaving commuters headed to Boston stuck on a train without bathrooms for six hours.
Mother Of MS-13 Victim Killed At Daughter’s Memorial Site
Evelyn Rodriguez became a national icon in the fight against gang violence in communities across America when she joined President Donald Trump at the State of the Union address in Januaray. Her daughter, Kayla Cuevas, was murdered not far from their Brentwood home in September 2016. Four alleged members of the MS-13 gang were been charged with killing Kayla and her 15-year-old friend Nisa Mickens.
Evelyn Rodriguez’s life and fight for her cause was suddenly cut short in September when a dispute over a memorial for her daughter led to her being fatally run over. Police say the driver of the vehicle involved is cooperating with police and the death is not considered gang-related. The news shocked her friends and family, prompting an outcry of support from officials at every level.
Conor McGregor Violent Meltdown At Barclays’ Center
In April, a video posted on Instagram showed UFC mixed martial arts star Conor McGregor holding a metal barricade charging toward a bus full of people. A second video showed the bus start driving away, but the crowd follows and one person flings a metal cart into the window. The UFC voiced outgage about the incident, and McGregor was charged with assault, criminal mischief and reckless endangerment. The 30-year-old Irish fighter was later joined in court by his 25-year-old friend and co-defendant Cian Cowley, both of whom pleaded guilty to a disorderly conduct charges. They were sentenced to community service and anger management, and all felony counts were dismissed.