Nephew describes 'devastating' attack, mugging of woman on church steps in Jamaica Hills

Kemberly Richardson Image
Wednesday, April 10, 2024
Family describes 'devastating' attack on woman outside Queens church
Jim Dolan has more on the reaction from the victim's family.

JAMAICA HILL, Queens (WABC) -- The family of a woman who was viciously attacked and then mugged outside of a church in Queens over the weekend spoke with Eyewitness News about the horrifying encounter as police look for the suspect.

The 68-year-old mother of two heading to service at St. Demetrios Greek Orthodox Church in Jamaica Hills, doing what she does every Sunday.

Daniel Coffaro, a close family friend, considers the woman an aunt, and told Eyewitness News reporter Kemberly Richardson by phone that Irene is a kind, gentle woman.

"Salt of the earth, godly woman, she wouldn't even hurt a fly, she's such a nice lady, anything, she would take the shirt off her back," Coffaro said.

Surveillance video shows a man following Irene around 8:30 a.m. as services were underway inside the church.

As she walks up the steps, he runs in front of her and violently shoves her, sending her falling backwards.

Coffaro says Irene is now in the hospital with a fractured skull and black eye, but she is in stable condition in the ICU.

"She was in and out of consciousness yesterday, today she's awake but she's not talking, she's nonverbal, she can say like one word," Coffaro said.

After the assault, the suspect grabbed Irene's purse with her car keys and cell phone inside.

He ended up stealing the victim's 2006 Nissan Altima, which police recovered overnight on Tuesday, approximately 3.5 miles away from the church.

The suspect is still on the loose, but a fingerprint was recovered from the car and police think they have a good idea who they are looking for.

The victim's family says they are terrified trying to figure out why on earth someone would be so cruel to someone who was simply heading to worship.

"I almost cried, it's devastating. I'm part of a civilian patrol and it's scary, people don't even fear real cops. He's an animal, deserves to be locked up, full book thrown at him," Coffaro said.


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