2016-01-06 / Features

Cops Probe Firebomb Car In Knick Shooting

By Liz Goff

CityScapes in Maspeth.CityScapes in Maspeth.Police are searching for a silver Nissan sedan driven by a suspect in the New Year’s Eve firebombing of a Maspeth strip club in the hopes it will lead them to six men who robbed and shot New York Knicks player Cleanthony Early, law enforcement sources said.

Police sources said suspects in the firebombing of the CityScapes strip club parked the Nissan Altima about a block away and walked to the establishment at about 5:35 am on December 30, carrying a red container of gasoline, a bottle and a cloth.

As they approached the club, one of the men tossed a paving stone through a club window while another poured the gasoline into the bottle, jammed the cloth inside and lit it, police sources said. The man tossed the bottle through the broken window and ran from the scene, police said.

Cops said Early, 24, arrived at CityScapes with gal pal Iliana Douge, 25, just before 1 am on December 30, and spent the next three hours flashing his cash and bling before club patrons.

They left the club at about 4:15 am in an Uber cab, but they didn’t get far, police said.
Three cars suddenly pulled out of spaces near the club and approached the cab at a red light, police said. The Uber driver spotted the cars and sped away, but the cars followed and boxed in the cab, forcing it to the side of the road near the intersection of Maurice and Tyler Avenues – about a mile from the club, a police source said.

The suspects got out of their cars, some wearing ski masks and two holding semiautomatic weapons and walked up to the cab. They ordered Early out of the cab at gunpoint and stole his cash, gold chains and medallions, iPhones and gold “grillz” tooth caps from his mouth, police said.

Despite the fact that Early offered no resistance, one of the men then shot him in the right kneecap – the same knee than had to be surgically repaired last season.

The suspects took the Uber driver’s identification card from the cab and fled the scene, leaving Early’s caps behind in the middle of Maurice Avenue – near a shell casing, police sources said.

Cops said Douge was not injured in the attack and none of her belongings were stolen.
The Uber driver then pulled the cab around the corner, where neighbors said they heard Early’s screams and called 911.

Neighbors told police they saw the Uber driver standing outside the cab, and Early, sitting on a metal chair on a nearby porch. “He was grabbing the front doorknob and leaning on the door,” a neighbor said. When the homeowner opened the door and saw Early was hurt, he brought him inside, police said.

Early was first taken by ambulance to Elmhurst Hospital Center, but was quickly transported to a Manhattan hospital, where he is spending his time recuperating and tweeting messages and selfies to friends and fans, a team spokesperson said.

“I thank God for today,” Early tweeted to fans.

The driver of the Nissan Altima used in the firebombing told police he had reported the vehicle stolen, a police source said. Investigators have been focusing on the owner’s Bedford Stuyvesant neighborhood since the firebombing, and at one point were able to trace activity on one of Early’s stolen phones to the Brooklyn neighborhood, the source said. No arrests have been made in the robbery.

Anyone with information is urged to call the CrimeStoppers Hotline at 1-800-577-TIPS or click on www.nypdcrimestoppers.com.

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