2016-08-10 / Front Page

Teens Charged With Breaking Into Firehouse

By Liz Goff
Three brazen Queens teenagers are facing jail time for burglarizing a Jackson Heights firehouse on August 1,while firefighters were responding to a nearby emergency, authorities said.

Queens District Attorney Richard Brown said just before 2 a.m. on August 1, a fire truck assigned to Engine 207/Ladder Co. 154 left their firehouse at 81-17 Northern Boulevard with lights flashing and sirens screaming.

According to court papers, a young male later identified as Steven Lopez, 18, of Corona, was observed behind the firehouse, climbing into a fenced-in area and onto a shed attached to the firehouse, and then entering the firehouse through a second-floor window.

A second suspect later identified as Christian Gaguancella, 19, of Corona, was observed moments later standing on the shed, while a third suspect identified as Luis Phunthusuntorn, 17, of Elmhurst, was also spotted outside the firehouse, standing on the sidewalk looking up and down the street.

Police who arrived at the firehouse moments later observed a firefighter walking Lopez out of the building, Brown said. The firefighter told police he found Lopez on the second-floor of the firehouse and that he had allegedly entered the building without authorization.

A team of police officers responded to the rear of the firehouse, where they observed Gaguancella running from the fenced-in area by the shed and meeting up with Phunthusuntorn on the street, Brown said.

The three teens were each charged with third-degree burglary and third-degree criminal trespass at their arraignments at Queens Criminal Court. They each face up to seven years in prison, if convicted.

“To many firefighters, the firehouse is a second home,” Brown said. “In this case, the defendants are accused of knowingly trespassing that space with the intent of removing property. More troubling, perhaps, ions that they allegedly waited for firefighters to be sent out on a call – risking their lives to rescue people and save property – before breaking in,” Brown said. 

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