March 7, 2016 Staff Report
Two police officers were also injured in pursuit of the suspect who stabbed two people – one fatally – and lit a homeless man on fire in Astoria on Sunday, according to the NYPD.
James Dillon, 23, of Astoria, allegedly went on a bloody spree from Sunday morning to evening throughout the neighborhood, wielding a knife and accelerant. “Hundreds” of police officers swarmed Queens in search of him throughout the day, according to NYPD Assistant Chief Diana Pizzuti, finally resulting in a violent confrontation between the suspect and two cops.
The attacks began at 11:20 a.m. in front of 25-69 36th St., where a 39-year-old woman – who was known to the suspect – was slashed in the face and neck, according to police.
At that time, police responded and were unable to locate the suspect.
Then at 3:10 p.m., an argument broke out at Astoria Liquors & Wines at 38-18 Astoria Blvd. Dillon allegedly stabbed owner George Patouhas, who was removed to Mt. Sinai Hospital where he later died.
Dillon also allegedly attacked a 61-year-old homeless man at this time, spraying the man with accelerant and lighting him on fire, according to the NYPD.
That victim was transported to Cornell-Presbyterian Hospital and was in stable condition as of Sunday night.
Two hours after the liquor store attacks, police received a 911 call of a burglary in progress at 30-65 42nd St., where a man had attempted to break into an apartment and was fleeing on the fire escape.
Finally at 5:40 p.m., two officers from the Critical Response Command who were canvassing the area on foot encountered Dillon at 25-38 36th St. They demanded he drop the knife and bottle of accelerant that he was carrying.
Dillon refused, and then sprayed the two officers with the liquid, burning their hands. The officers then shot Dillon.
Both officers were transported to Cornell-Presbyterian Hospital in stable condition.
Dillon was transported to Elmhurst General Hospital in critical condition.
“This has been a very unusual day here in Astoria,” Pizzuti said.