Man stabbed to death in Flushing apt.

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Thomas Shanis was at home Tuesday morning in the sixth-floor Flushing apartment he shared with his elderly mother when the apartment was broken into and Shanis was mortally stabbed multiple times, police said.

“Early this morning, there was a home invasion upstairs in which a 33-year old man was killed,” Queens District Attorney Richard Brown said as he stood in front of the entrance to the brick apartment building at 140-18 Ash Ave.

The incident happened at about 11:30 a.m., the DA said..

Ira Ace, a witness at the scene, said Shanis’ mother, Zelda, had come out of the building before police arrived and said that two black men had pushed her son into the apartment’s bathroom, tied him up and stabbed him in the back.

Police from the 109th Precinct confirmed they were looking for two black male suspects dressed all in black who fled the scene on foot. Investigators walked up and down the street looking for security cameras that may have captured images of the suspects.

The 109th Precinct and EMS responded to a 911 call and pronounced Shanis dead on arrival at the scene, authorities said.

“He was her caretaker. He took care of his mom,” Ace said. “Whatever happened is tragic.”

Ace said she believed Shanis held a job as a construction worker.

Police cars and tape blocked off the street, and a ring of people formed a wide curve around the front of the building near busy Kissena Boulevard. Some looked on with curiosity as police and detectives shuffled in and out of the building while others wept and comforted one another.

Bystanders who said they knew Shanis said he was a quiet yet friendly neighbor who was seen almost every day walking his half-German shepherd, half-Labrador dog Sampson along the street.

At around 4 p.m., more than four hours after the attack occurred, police assisted an elderly woman with a walker out of the building and into an unmarked car, placing the walker in the trunk. She was believed to have been Shanis’ mother.

The police said there were no arrests as of Tuesday evening and their investigation was underway.

Reach reporter Rich Bockmann by e-mail at or by phone at 718-260-4574.

Updated 10:40 am, October 12, 2011
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