Thursday, September 4, 2008
SUM Totaled: Graffiti Vandal Caught Thanks to Resident's Tip
By Patricia Adams
The reign of the graffiti vandal known throughout the communities of Ozone Park, Richmond Hill and Woodhaven as Sum Z, ended with his arrest at about 4:30 a.m. on Saturday. Police in five precincts, four in Queens and one in Brooklyn, have been looking for the elusive bandit for nearly a year. Authorities say he is responsible for tagging hundreds of locations and his etchings have been seen as far as Gerritsen Beach in Brooklyn.
John Colasanti, a 35-year-old unemployed white male, was taken into custody after he was observed by a neighborhood civic member on his way home from work. Scott Jordan was driving home after 4 am on Saturday when he observed an 18-wheeler parked near the triangle at 87th street and Rockaway Blvd.
“I saw movement and then I saw a man and a woman. The man was spraying something on the truck. I moved my vehicle so the lights would shine on the truck and that’s when I saw the word SUM.” Jordan said he was overwhelmed with excitement over the sight because the graffiti vandal known as SUM had been plaguing his community and many others for many months. “All I could think was, we got him. We got him.”
Jordan called 911 and told the operator that he had one of the most notorious grafitti vandals Queens has ever known in his sights. “I stayed behind them, about 25 feet or so, and just kept calling the police.” At one point Jordan said the woman who was with Colasanti, identified as a 22-year old black female named Lindo Z., approached him in his truck to ask him if he wanted a date. “The woman was a prostitute. She thought I was looking for a girl.” Jordan said he let her know immediately he wasn’t at all interested in what she was selling.
When police from the 102 arrived at the scene they verified with Jordan that he had seen SUM and his girlfriend tagging the truck. “I saw him write out the Z and then she filled it in”. Jordan said that Colasanti was carrying two knapsacks, one of which was filled with cans of Krylon spray paint at the time of his arrest as well as a small bucket with a paint roller and a handful of stencils made from cardboard he used to outline his tags.
Jordan was recognized for his help in the arrest at a Town Hall meeting of the Our Neighbors Civic Association on Tuesday evening in Ozone Park. In addition to getting the reward offered by the NYPD for the arrest and capture of SUM, Jordan received citations from Assemblywoman Audrey Pheffer and Councilman Joe Addabbo.
The 106 Pct Graffiti Unit Coordinator, Officer Frank Reina, told The Forum that the capture of Sum Z was a tremendous coup for the police. “This individual was brazenly traveling around all of our neighboring communities and managed to tag hundreds of locations.” Reina, who is well known through- out the precinct for his continuous efforts over the years to wipe out graffiti in the 106, says Sum Z was the most challenging. “All that matters is that we got this guy. Now we are looking for the DA’s office to prosecute him to the fullest extent of the law.”
The commanding officer of the 102 Pct, where the actual collar was made, Captain Charles McEvoy, and Community Affairs Officer, John McCoy were both on hand to talk about the arrest. “Our success in this arrest is because of community participation and because of Scott Jordan,” said McEvoy. “This vandal has finally been put behind bars where he belongs.” Captain McEvoy said that the NYPD Vandals Squad and personnel from the 106 were called in and that all those involved went to DA Brown’s office collectively to offer prosecutors a complete picture of the widespread damage caused by the man known as SUM.
Officer McCoy was responsible for debriefing Colasanti back at the precinct and it was then that the vandal disclosed the origin of his tag. SUM was derived from the words awesome and handsome, allegedly suggested by Colasanti’s cousin. McCoy also explained to residents at the meeting that the reason some of the tags read only SUM was due to Colasanti being alone when he tagged them. When accompanied by his girlfriend he attached the Z for the first letter of her last name.
Colasanti remains incarcerated, having not posted the required $10,000 bail, and is scheduled to return to court on September 11.
Photo: Democratic District Leader Frank Gulluscio presents community activist Scott Jordan with a citation from Assemblywoman Audrey Pheffer.