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Victim of LIC beating left mark with altruism

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The civic influence of Nicholas Nowillo, the Long Island City man slain by a stranger outside his home Wednesday night, lives on in his eldest daughter. Doris Suda, 38, was in Manhattan attending her first session of the Citizens’ Police Academy the same night.

“An hour later, my father was brutally murdered in front of his house,” Suda said, noting she will continue to attend the 14-week class familiarizing civilians with police procedure.

Nowillo, 65, lived in his home on Crescent Street in the Dutch Kills section of Long Island City for 34 years, his family said. He was an Army veteran who worked as a jeweler until he retired three years ago, and a fixture in the neighborhood, regularly attending meetings of the Dutch Kills Civic Association and Community Boards 1 and 2.

He was beaten to death at 10:40 p.m. while escorting a neighbor who was nervous about a man outside from her car to her house, his family said.

Police arrested a suspect, 43-year-old Eric Cherry, in connection with the attack. He was scheduled to be arraigned Friday, the Queens district attorney’s office said. Cherry has a series of arrests from 2006 and 2007 on suspicion of cocaine possession, attempted theft and possessing burglary tools, the Queens DA’s office said.

Nowillo’s family will hold a viewing Friday at the Evangel Christian Church, 29-30 27th. St.

“He always helped, whether collecting garbage for neighbors or hosing off their sidewalk,” said Sandra Khan, Nowillo’s younger daughter.

“He is a family man, no doubt about it,” said Jaime Marrelo, 46, manager of the nearby textile company Passementerie Inc. “If there’s justice in this world, something’s going to happen to that guy.”

Leaders at the Evangel Christian Church across the street, where Nowillo and his family attended and volunteered, described him as an avid helper.

“It’s a tragic shock, but it’s not surprising that he was trying to help someone out with his last act,” said Assistant Pastor Andy Maldonado. “Whenever he would come to one of our events, he was one of the first guys on the scene to set up tables or make coffee. He was a service-oriented guy.”

Suda and Khan said the family was devastated in February by the death of Khan’s 3-year-old daughter, Zara.

“We can’t even handle and deal with it now that this has happened,” Suda said.

“He always had a positive outlook, no matter what,” Khan said. “Though I was hurting because of my daughter, he always had a kind word.”

Updated 6:37 pm, October 10, 2011
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