“I don’t care they call me a snitch,” confessed Elizabeth Montanez, ashamed she had not reported earlier her suspicions about Huang Chen, the accused murderer of a Flushing woman who was hit with a hammer and then savagely stabbed and eviscerated with a utility knife upon returning home with a gallon of milk on Jan. 26.
Chen had operated a delivery business across the street from Montanez’s apartment.“I would tell [my daughter] not to pass by him when he had his van open, because I had … women’s intuition,” she said.
She knew nothing of his criminal record, which included charges of harassment, weapons possession and assault, but she believed, having regularly observed his actions from her fourth-floor window, that “he was the type of man who would intimidate, man or woman.” When she read in the newspaper that he allegedly cut the victim’s heart and lungs out of her chest cavity, she “almost started crying.”
Montanez spokw at the rally against violence, held Friday outside 46-year-old victim Qian Wu’s apartment and employment agency on 40th Road.The event was organized by self-described “crime-stopper” Martha Flores-Vazquez, of Flushing, the director of Community Prevention Alternatives.
Among those offering their condolences to Wu’s family members were state Sens. Toby Stavisky (D-Flushing) and Frank Padavan (R-Bellerose), Assemblywoman Grace Meng (D-Flushing), representatives of Councilmen Peter Koo (R-Flushing) and Dan Halloran (R-Whitestone) and anti-crime activists, whose T-shirts were emblazoned with the mantra, “Stop the Violence — See Something, Say Something.”
Passersby demonstrated little interest in the drafted statements elected officials delivered to the public and in the shrine lit in Wu’s memory. When one neighbor came down her stairwell, only to realize her door was ajar and secured behind the candle display, she panicked, frantically untying the handle and anxiously excusing herself for the disruption she had caused.
At the start of the rally, Flores-Vazquez framed Wu’s murder as an act of domestic violence and a tragic consequence of community negligence.Having interviewed residents in the neighborhood, including Montanez, who only testified to their reservations about Chen’s behavior after police had arrived to investigate, Florez-Vazquez said that he was “more than a disgruntled consumer” of the employment agency Wu ran with her husband, Yung Wei Guo.
Chen had been stalking his target for the last three years, well before her marriage to Guo in 2008, allegedly persisting in romantic advances despite her refusal.
In 2006, he was jailed for 30 days for choking and punching Wu, after which he was identified as an illegal immigrant and shipped to El Paso, Tex. for deportation. However, Chen was later released under the supervision of U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement.
A week before the murder, he moved into an apartment only two doors away from Wu. Stavisky said a victim must be automatically notified of a prisoner’s release, however, Wu was never informed of Chen’s new address.
Padavan asserted that “One phone call [from the police] would have prevented this from happening.”Six orders of protection and a seventh pending the Friday before the killing, when Wu and her husband filed a harassment complaint at the 109th Precinct, were not enough to save her life.
“When it’s someone with a big name, they issue orders of protection. But when it’s common Joe on the street, it’s not followed up the way it should be.This should have been addressed a long time ago, way long before we got to this point,” Flores-Vazquez said.
Earlier, she had urged the community to be ever alert and vocal in their surveillance. In a moment of silence, Stuart Garmise, a regular at local civic meetings, vented his frustrations with the failure of the 109th Precinct in preventing the crime.
He was not alone in expressing his dissatisfaction; only a few hours later, Guo told the Daily News — courtesy of Meng’s translation from Mandarin — that he could not fathom why the NYPD had not immediately arrested a repeat violator of orders of protection, as the protocol he obeyed as a police officer in his native China demands.
However, Guo and elected officials commended police, along with New York Hospital Medical Center Queens, where Chen had his wounds attended to and where he was apprehended by detectives, and Queens District Attorney Richard Brown, who charged Chen with second-degree murder and other crimes, for their swift response once the murder had been reported.