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Resident of Jamaica Hills shoots home invader dead

The homeowner, who neighbors referred to as Joe Pepe, shot Derek...

By Brendan Browne

A Jamaica Hills man shot and killed a South Jamaica man who had broken into his house Sunday night after the two men confronted each other in a dark room near the back door, police said.

The homeowner, who neighbors referred to as Joe Pepe, shot Derek Brown, also known as Derrick Johnson, 39, with a licensed gun after someone called police to report a robbery in progress at 82-33 167th St. about 9 p.m., police said.

Brown, of 114-34 157th St. in South Jamaica, entered Pepe’s home through a second-floor window in the rear of his residence and police believe he went downstairs after he realized someone was home.

When Brown tried to flee through the back door, which requires a key to exit, Pepe heard him and went to check out the disturbance, police said. Pepe found Brown at the back door and the robber lunged at him in the dark house, police said.

Pepe, 63, a retired corrections officer, shot Brown once in the head with a .38 caliber revolver, police said.

No charges were made against Pepe for the shooting, police said.

“He got a little afraid and shot him,” said neighbor Thomas Simko, who spoke with Pepe shortly after the incident.

Pepe “was really shaken up,” Thomas said.

Other neighbors said the area had not experienced many robberies and described Pepe as quiet, friendly man who has lived in the neighborhood for at least 10 years with his wife.

Phyllis Dumas, who lives a few homes down on the block, said she was not surprised by Pepe’s actions. “That’s what I would have done,” she said.

Although most neighbors said they were not worried about an increase in robberies in the area, Jamaica Estates and other communities in the jurisdiction of the 107th Police Precinct have experienced a surge in home break-ins this year.

According to police statistics, while most serious crimes decreased, there was a 36 percent rise in burglaries in the 107th Precinct in the first 6 1/2 months of the year compared to the same period in 2001.

The 107th Precinct encompasses Fresh Meadows, Hillcrest, Jamaica Estates, Jamaica Hills, Briarwood, Pomonok, and Kew Gardens Hills.

When the statistics for the first half of 2002 were released, City Councilman James Gennaro (D-Fresh Meadows) attributed the increase to low staffing levels at the precinct.

Chief Deputy Dewey Fong of Queens Patrol Borough South said at that time that the Police Department may address the burglary problem by increasing patrols in neighborhoods that have been hit hard by the crime.

Reach reporter Brendan Browne by e-mail at or by phone at 229-0300, Ext. 155.

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