The silence of this past Monday night in Kew Gardens Hills seemed like an ideal opportunity for burglars to make their way through the neighborhood in search of loot. The homes on 73rd Avenue near 147th Street seemed particularly affluent, with only a short wall or fence separating the sidewalk from the private property. “They started behind the property trying to break into homes and then ended on my property. I heard noise in my yard and my wife saw suspicious guys on camera,” homeowner Ari Fozailow said. The footage records the trespassing shortly after 1 a.m. “She yelled to me that someone is in our yard. I pulled out my gun and you can see the rest on video.”
The brick wall and security cameras did not indicate that Fozailow had one more defense for his home: the training and license to carry a weapon. While his wife called the police, Fozailow chased two burglars off his property and then came across a third whom he cornered in his front yard. Seven police officers arrived within a minute to take things from there.
From the footage shared by Fozailow, he held the gun with both hands and kept distance from the burglars as he awaited the police.
To legally own a firearm in New York City, one begins by applying online with the police department. “I’ve had my permit for seven years. I’m a business owner and I also work in real estate,” Fozailow said. “It costs a lot of money to obtain a permit. You hire a lawyer and it takes anywhere from ten months to a year. You have to be really clean. There can’t be any arrests on your record, not even a traffic ticket. I’m clean; I’ve always been scared of the man.”
Fozailow then attended a series of courses on how to shoot under different scenarios, and learning laws applicable to firearms. “I have a full unrestricted carry for New York City and New York State,” he said. “They don’t hand it to just anyone. If you have one, there’s a reason for it.”
Fozailow credits the quick arrival of the police to his neighbors, who spotted the intruders from their cameras and windows, and called the police minutes earlier. “My block has homes with walk-in basements. They try to enter that way,” he said. At the time that the three burglars entered his property, the father of four was awake and his puppy was barking. “He only barks when someone is on my property. My wife looked at the camera. Someone was in my yard.”
He described the two who got away as “very fast,” while the third one was attempting to access the house from a back door. Failing to open it, he ran to the front yard. That’s where Fozailow cornered him at gunpoint.
Upon the arrival of police, Fozailow shouted five times that he is the homeowner and licensed to carry his gun. “He said to put the gun down, and I did. He asked me for my license, which I then took out. Everything was by the textbook,” he said.
Reiterating that gun ownership is not for everyone and requires extensive training, he added that lacking the weapon, he would not have given chase. “I would not have gone out of my house if I didn’t have the gun.”
The silence of the quarantine has presented opportunities for package thieves, tire thieves, and burglars to stalk their prey. As New Yorkers are combating the coronavirus with preventative measures, they are also vigilant for crime that takes advantage of the public lockdown. The use of security cameras, Queens Shmira volunteers, cooperation with local precincts, and the few highly-experienced civilians with guns are all contributing towards flattening a curve involving a very visible enemy. As we safeguard our health, we do the same with our families and properties.
By Sergey Kadinsky