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Three Verizon techs who foiled Flushing rape hailed as heros

Elected officials honor Verizon technicians Michael Popowich, John Gilday and Anthony Howley at City Hall. Photo courtesy Julissa Ferreras
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Three Verizon technicians from Queens were honored Tuesday at City Hall for stopping an attempted rape in Flushing.

Michael Popowich, Anthony Howley and John Gilday were on their way to lunch Oct. 30 after installing fiber optic cables at a building near the intersection of Northern Boulevard and 150th Place when they heard a woman scream. The woman had come out of a corner café before a man approached her and grabbed her around the waist, Gilday said.

“At first we thought they knew one another, but then he pulled her to the ground and started putting his hand up her skirt and pulling down her pantyhose,” said Gilday. “We didn’t expect to see someone be attacked in the middle of the day like that.”

The three technicians jumped into action when they realized something was wrong. Popowich and Howley chased after the man, who ran into the street, and pinned him on the ground back on the sidewalk, while Gilday went to check on the woman.

They were able to keep the man pinned down until the police arrived and took him into custody.

Police identified the suspect as Young Song. After his arrest, he was charged with rape, sexual abuse and unlawful imprisonment, police said.

The technicians’ good deeds prompted elected officials to conduct a tribute ceremony for the three men where they gave them each a framed proclamation from the city.

“The Council of the city of New York is proud to pay tribute to three — Michael Popowich, Anthony Howley, and John Gilday — for courageously thwarting an attempted rape in Flushing, Queens,” read the proclamation.

Gilday said he was overwhelmed by the ceremony.

“I didn’t expect anything like that,” he said. “That was a very nice gesture. We didn’t do this looking for any kind of accolade. Hopefully, people will follow our example and do something if they see something.”

Council members Julissa Ferreras (D-East Elmhurst) and Peter Koo (D-Flushing), along with Council Speaker Christine Quinn (D-Manhattan) presented the proclamations to the Good Samaritans.

“I think I speak for every worker at Verizon when I say that if anyone else were in the same situation we were in, they would do the right thing,” said Michael Popowich, at the ceremony. “That’s the way we see it — we just did the right thing.”

Reach reporter Alex Robinson by e-mail at arobinson@cnglocal.com or by phone at 718-260-4566.

Updated 1:34 pm, December 16, 2013
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Reader feedback

Red the garbage man from Whitestone says:
God bless them!
Dec. 17, 2013, 2:44 am

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