Boy thrown to death mourned in Flushing

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The family of a 2-year-old boy who died after he was thrown off the seventh-floor balcony of a condominium in the heart of downtown laid him to rest Tuesday morning at St. Michael’s Cemetery in East Elmhurst after a closed service at Chun Fook Funeral Services in Flushing.

The family of Jerry Zhou, who would have turned 3 Nov. 12, requested that media not be allowed to attend the service, and police were on hand to ensure their wishes were followed during their time of sorrow, according to Linda Sun, a spokeswoman for state Assemblywoman Grace Meng (D-Flushing).

“He had a large family and most of them were visibly distraught and crying. The little boy had a lot of people who loved him,” Meng said. “They had his picture up and a lot of things he loved. I think his family’s still in shock.”

As a precursor to the family service, residents from throughout the borough came together in Flushing Saturday to mourn the boy in their own way.

Gathered around a table full of candles and flowers, those who participated in the vigil urged residents to report fights and suspicious behavior to the police in order to prevent tragedies like the Zhou’s death.

“The community has to report things,” said Martha Flores-Vazquez, director of Community Prevention Alternatives, which hosted the vigil at her Flushing office at 136-31 41st Ave. “If the community sees something, it has to say something. Before this incident occurred, there was noise and neighbors knew something was happening, but nobody called the police.”

Community Prevention Alternatives is a group that provides services for domestic violence victims and anger management classes and parenting seminars.

Flushing resident Xiao Qui Cai, 53, was arraigned at her bedside at Elmhurst Hospital Center Friday on charges of murdering the 2-year-old, who was the son of the family from whom she and her daughter allegedly had rented a room, according to the Queens district attorney. Cai allegedly threw the child off the seventh floor of the balcony of the building at 35-06 Leavitt St. onto the sidewalk below at about 8:36 p.m. Nov. 2, Brown said.

Cai, who a source familiar with the investigation said had long been depressed and institutionalized for psychiatric problems, was charged with second-degree murder, reckless assault of a child and endangering the welfare of a child, the DA said. If convicted, Cai faces up to 25 years to life in prison. She was held without bail and was expected to return to court Nov. 29.

Cai allegedly got into a verbal argument with her daughter before suddenly walking over to Jerry, picking him up and throwing him off the balcony, according to the DA. Jerry sustained multiple skull fractures and bleeding to his brain and spleen and was pronounced dead shortly thereafter, the DA said. Cai’s daughter and Jerry’s mother, Yun Xu, were both employed as cashiers at an area grocery store, the source said.

The death has left a community in despair, said Flores-Vazquez, who is also a Flushing district leader.

“We are devastated,” she said. “It’s a very emotional day. I had a 2-year-old boy once who’s now 30, and if that had been him? I can’t imagine it.”

John Kung, director of the Interreligious Federation for World Peace in New York City, which is based in Richmond Hill, and the Rev. Franklin Anderson, of the Leviticus Cathedral of Praise in South Ozone Park, urged community members to be vigilant when allowing individuals to be near their children.

“We need to educate parents on how to be good parents and who we invite into our homes,” Kung said. “We want to work together to create a peaceful society.”

Updated 6:22 pm, October 10, 2011
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