Cops: We’ve nabbed Fort Greene Park gunman

Cops step up patrols in Fort Greene Park
Photo by Tom Callan

Cops say they nabbed the Fort Greene Park gunman on Saturday — and, in doing so, hope they’ve ended a spree of brazen stickups that plagued the crime-filled greenspace for weeks.

Police arrested 50-year-old Darryl Meachem at his home in the Ingersoll Houses, a day after he robbed an Adelphi Street pet shop, the last of his six alleged stick-ups.

“Persistent police work paid off,” said Deputy Inspector Anthony Tasso, the 88th Precinct’s commanding officer. “Sometimes it’s hard to catch people when they live so close to the park. By the time someone calls 911, he’s already home.”

Neither Meachem nor his lawyer responded to messages.

The suspect’s final heist was on Sept. 23 at Who’s Your Doggy, a pet supply depot near Willoughby Avenue, cops said. A 30-year-old employee said that the thug walked in with a gun at 10:05 am and ordered, “Give me everything you have!” He ran off with $100.

Cops have been on the hunt for the goon since Sept. 11, when he ambushed a Brooklyn Hospital nurse near St. Edwards Street at 3:15 pm. But it wasn’t the first in a series of harrowing crimes to terrorize the historic oasis — officers arrested a different gun-toting thief in the park a day earlier.

Tasso said the park pirate — who used a BB gun, not a pistol — is responsible for at least six stickups, including a convenience store hit that was heretofore unsolved:

On Aug. 17 at 9:40 am, he held up the brand-new Myrtle Avenue CVS near Ashland Place, taking $100.

• On Sept. 13, he jumped a 27-year-old man while he and his girlfriend lazed near the Fort Greene Park tennis courts at 9:30 pm. The crook emerged from the trees, approached the couple with a gun and fled with $80, cops said.

On Sept. 17, he mugged novelist Arthur Phillips as his sons played near the Prison Ship Martyrs Monument at 3:30 pm. The scribe said that the thug’s mugging was a “professional transaction” — the bandit glommed $150, but left his credit cards behind.

• On Sept. 21, he robbed Fulton Street deli the Smoke Shop, police said. An employee told cops that he entered the store near Fort Greene Place at 10:36, wielded a gun and left with $250.

Tasso said that an undercover officer finally caught the culprit after getting a tip from a man under arrest.

“When we arrest people, we ask them if they know about other crimes — even if they’re just arrested for drugs,” he said. “We get nothing 99 percent of the time, but every once in a while somebody will give you some information.”

Phillips, a best-selling novelist from Cobble Hill, couldn’t be happier.

“Fantastic news!” said the author of “Prague” and “The Tragedy of Arthur.” “Frankly, I’m really impressed by the 88th Precinct. My hat’s off to them.”

Fort Greene Park has been a haven for criminals this summer, prompting Tasso to increase patrols in June and a local karate instructor to offer self-defense classes in the greenspace itself.

According to NYPD data, there were 38 robberies in Fort Greene and Clinton Hill over the last month, compared to 18 during the same period last year. And so far this year, there have been 175 robberies, up 24 percent.

Phillips said that his guard won’t be down the next time he visits the park.

“It would be hard to go there and think I’m in any ordinary park,” Phillips said.

But after a moment, he added, “Maybe there is no such thing as any ordinary park. I just won’t go in there with the same happy-go-lucky insouciance.”

Meachem faces a slew of charges including robbery in the second degree — a felony that carries a maximum of 15 years in prison for first-time offenders, according to a spokesman for District Attorney Charles Hynes.