Pair commended for bravery / Seasonal workers in park break up a robbery in progress by three men near Arthur Ashe Stadium
March 10, 2004 by ALAN KRAWITZ. Alan Krawitz is a freelance writer. / A pair of brave parks workers who helped foil an attack inside a bathroom in a Queens park were honored recently by grateful city officials from the police department to the borough president's office. The two seasonal parks workers, Elaine Goodman, 40, a mother of nine from the Bronx, and Dwight Skeeter, 45, a resident of the Borden Avenue Men's Shelter in Long Island City, both said they were just doing their job. Goodman said that as she worked next to the men's bathroom near the Arthur Ashe Tennis Stadium in Flushing Meadows-Corona Park back in January she heard a woman calling for help. When she looked in the bathroom, she saw a man being assaulted by two other men. "That's when me and Dwight jumped in and separated the guys," Goodman said. Radioed for help She and Skeeter then held the two suspects along with one lookout while radioing for help, unaware that police were merely a quarter mile away. Assemb. Jose Peralta (D-Jackson Heights) was holding a news conference at the New York Hall of Science to welcome new police officers into the 110th and 115th precincts.

Peralta said he didn't find out that parks workers had thwarted a crime until after the news conference. "It was ironic that this type of crime would happen on the same day, just as we were welcoming new police officers to the area," he said. Peralta praised Goodman and Skeeter and said they were "the epitome of getting involved." "The two parks employees were very impressive," said Dep. Insp. Martin Conway of the 110th Precinct, who was in the first police car to arrive at the scene. "They had these guys sitting on their hands with their shoes off. They weren't going anywhere." According to police, the suspects attempted to rob the victim, a 33-year-old man, of his wallet and gold chain. The victim was unharmed other than minor cuts and bruises to the face. Police said the suspects, Jesus Saul, 29, and Santiago Guroura, 24, both of Queens, and Angel Garcia, 26, of the Bronx, were charged with assault and robbery. At a March 1 ceremony at the park, Conway presented Goodman and Skeeter with commendations for bravery and appreciation on behalf of the police department. Five other parks workers - Joseph Blackmore, La Mecca Wallace, Rupert Le- Grande, Alfred Nardo and Edward Johnson - received commendations for assisting in detaining the suspects. "Everyone did a great job and a public service," Conway said. Goodman and Skeeter also have been honored by City Parks Commissioner Adrian Benepe and City Councilman Joseph Addabbo Jr. (D-Howard Beach). Addabbo

awarded Goodman and Skeeter citations for meritorious acts. Queens Borough President Helen Marshall even acknowledged the pair in her State of the Borough address in late January. She said Skeeter and Goodman represented "the best in public service." "It was just my instinct to help that lady," said Goodman, who has been with the parks department for a year. "When you hear someone yelling for help, you just jump in. I kept yelling, 'Get off of him! Get off of him!' They understood all right." 'Blessing from God' Skeeter said it was a "blessing from God that we were there to help." He said that after learning about the bathroom fight, he helped Goodman subdue the suspects and "make sure they couldn't get away." Acknowledging his personal struggles, Skeeter said, "Life's thrown me a few curveballs, but things are looking up now." Skeeter, who has a 14-year-old daughter and a 26-year-old son, said that once he straightens out his life, he hopes to "make my way back to my family." Parks officials said he was hired through a job training program five months ago and has been an exemplary employee. Queens Parks Commissioner Richard Murphy had high praise for not only Goodman and Skeeter, but for all his employees. "The staff is like a family here . I hardly ever get transfer requests. People do a great job here, they really take care of the park and morale is always high," Murphy said. Asked about the attention heaped on Goodman and Skeeter, Murphy said the response from the media has been positive. "So far, it's been like a rock tour

and it's been great," Murphy said. "They have both been interviewed by the papers, TV and radio. And it's all well deserved. It's a great story."