Police Officer John G. Scarangella

Police Officer John G. Scarangella

New York City Police Department, New York

End of Watch Friday, May 1, 1981

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John G. Scarangella

Police Officer John Scarangella succumbed to gunshot wounds received two weeks earlier when he and his partner were shot by heavily armed gunmen during a traffic stop on 116th Avenue, between 202nd Street and 203rd Street.

Officer Scarangella and his partner stopped a van that fit the description of a van wanted in connection with several burglaries in the area. Before the officers could exit their vehicle, the two occupants of the van exited and opened fire with 9-millimeter semi-automatic handguns, firing a total of 30 shots. Officer Scarangella was struck twice in the head, and his partner was hit 14 times in the legs and back.

Officer Scarangella was removed to the hospital where he died two weeks later. His partner was forced to retire in 1982 due to his wounds.

The two suspects in the murder fled the state. One suspect was apprehended in North Carolina by detectives from the New York City Police Department and the Sumter County Sheriff's Department. The second suspect was apprehended in Pennsylvania by two police officers from the Philadelphia Police Department when they observed him walking down a street in Philadelphia wearing a bullet-resistant vest. When these officers approached the suspect, he dropped a gun and fled on foot. He was apprehended after a fierce struggle in which several officers were injured. At that time, he was found to have the gun that was used to kill Officer Scarangella and wound his partner.

Both suspects were convicted of attempted murder in connection with the shooting of Officer Scarangella's partner, but in two different trials, the juries were hung on the charge of murder in connection with the killing of Officer Scarangella.

In July of 1986, both suspects were convicted of murder and sentenced to 25 years to life in prison. One died in prison on August 30, 2008, and the other died in prison on April 3, 2016.

Although never charged, one of the suspects in Officer Scarangella's murder was a prime suspect in the murders of Police Officer Edward O'Grady, and Police Officer Waverly Brown, of the Nyack Police Department, on October 20, 1981, during a robbery of an armored car. When he was arrested, he had a gun linked to those murders.

Both suspects were one-time members of the Black Liberation Army.

Officer Scarangella had been a member of the New York City Police Department for 12 years and is survived by his wife, four children, and three siblings. He was assigned to the 113th Precinct.

The Black Liberation Army was a violent, radical group that attempted to fight for independence from the United States government in the late 1960's and early 1970's. The BLA was responsible for the murders of more than 10 police officers around the country. They were also responsible for violent attacks around the country that left many police officers wounded.


  • Age 42
  • Tour 12 years
  • Badge 22524

Incident Details

  • Cause Gunfire
  • Incident Date Thursday, April 16, 1981
  • Weapon Handgun; 9 mm
  • Offender Died in prison

Most Recent Reflection

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113th Pct. mourns John Scarangella

Posted May 7, 2020
Queens Chronicle

“We will never forget.”

The words in the Twitter account of the 113th Precinct in South Jamaica were posted May 1 as the NYPD marked the 39th anniversary of the death of Officer John Scarangella in 1981, two weeks after he and his partner were ambushed at a traffic stop.

Many of the officers assigned to the 113th Precinct were not born when Scarangella and his partner, Officer Richard Rainey, pulled over a van on 116th Street, seeking suspects in a recent string of burglaries.

They had not yet left their patrol car when two men emerged from the van, firing 30 shots at them before fleeing. Scarangella, 42 and a 12-year veteran, would die at what is now NYC Health + Hospitals/Queens. Rainey, shot 14 times, was forced to retire from the NYPD.

Anthony Laborde and James Dixon-York, members of the Black Liberation Front, were both convicted of murder and died in prison, Dixon-York in 2009 and Laborde in 2016. Many law enforcement authorities believe Joanne Chesimard, still wanted for the 1973 murder of New Jersey State Trooper Werner Foerster, was in the van at the time.

Rainey died of natural causes in March 2015 at age 67.

Retired Police Officer

May 7, 2020

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