Suspect in Double Murder, Cornered by Police, Kills Self in Florida

Updated, 3:05 p.m. | The suspect in a double murder at a Bronx motel took his own life as the police cornered him in a Florida apartment building late Tuesday night, the authorities said.

United States marshals and detectives from the New York Police Department tracked the suspect, Joseph Kernizan, 42, to an area north of Miami where he had fled after killing Tracy Bennett, who had been his longtime lover, and Wayne Hamilton, a reggae singer, in a hail of bullets at the Holiday Motel on Saturday, Deputy Barry Golden of the United States Marshals Service said.

At least 20 officers, detectives and federal marshals late Tuesday night surrounded a ground-floor rental apartment of a friend of Mr. Kernizan in an
unincorporated section of Miami-Dade County just north of the city, Deputy Golden said in a telephone interview on

The authorities trained lights on the two-story building before using a loudspeaker to order those inside to come out, Deputy Golden said.
Mr. Kernizan looked out the front blinds and then tried to leave through the back, he said.

Soon, Mr. Kernizan’s friend left the building, and once the friend was outside, “that’s when we heard shots,” Deputy Golden said. A robot with a camera entered the apartment building and “discovered a body and a weapon on the floor,” he said. Mr. Kernizan had fired at least three shots with a handgun to kill himself, he said. There were no other injuries reported.

The police also found two other handguns and two loaded assault rifles in the apartment, Deputy Golden said. It was not immediately clear to
whom the weapons belonged.

The New York Police Department declined on Wednesday to provide details of the deadly encounter, saying that the body had not yet been positively identified as Mr. Kernizan’s.

The authorities had named Mr. Kernizan, a music promoter, as the prime suspect in the killing of Mr. Hamilton, 50, a musician from Milwaukee, and Ms. Bennett, 38, who lived on Long Island.

The two victims appeared to be companions, friends said.

Although the police have not provided a motive for their killing, Deputy Golden said Mr. Kernizan and Ms. Bennett had two children
together and had been in a long-term relationship.

But that relationship appeared to have soured at some point before the killing. “She had a restraining order” against him, Deputy Golden

Mr. Hamilton, who performed as Captain Barkey, recorded a song in 2010 titled “Nah Lef Joe” that described a woman cheating and that appeared to taunt Mr. Kernizan.

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A Statue Arrives at Ground Zero, While Another Still Seeks a Home

The sculpture that stood in the middle of the World Trade Center plaza when the center was destroyed cannot find a permanent home. But another big bronze that has been in New York City less than a year already has a highly visible spot at ground zero.

Commuters streaming out of the PATH train station at the World Trade Center in Lower Manhattan on Wednesday morning may have spotted the shrouded newcomer: a 16-foot-tall sculpture of a Special Operations soldier on horseback. The statue is a memorial to the troops who led the American invasion of Afghanistan in response to the Sept. 11 attacks on the trade center and the Pentagon.

The statue, known as “De Oppresso Liber,” a motto of the Army Special Forces, was hauled to a spot near the PATH station entrance on Vesey Street on Tuesday evening. That will be its temporary home while construction at the trade center continues, according to Patrick J. Foye, the executive director of the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey.

The Port Authority has agreed to provide a space for the statue at the trade center outside of the official 9/11 Memorial, Mr. Foye said. He added that no decision had been made about where the statue’s permanent home would be, but it is expected to stay on the trade center’s grounds.

“The installation of the horse soldier statue close to the scene of the 9/11 attacks we think is appropriate,” Mr. Foye said.

He is scheduled to attend a ceremony there on Friday, along with other political and military officials, to rededicate the statue. It was originally dedicated in November 2011 at a ceremony led by Vice President Joseph R. Biden Jr. in the Winter Garden at the World Financial Center.

At the time, the statue had been bound for the nearby Zuccotti Park, but the Occupy Wall Street encampment there interrupted that plan. Instead, the statue has spent the last 11 months in the lobby of an office building in Battery Park City.

The United War Veterans Council, the group that stages the city’s annual Veterans Day parade, persuaded the Port Authority to make room for the statue at ground zero. Bill White, the former chief executive of the Intrepid Sea, Air & Space Museum, represented the council and the statue’s owner, the Green Beret Foundation, in those negotiations.

That decision came amid a long-running debate about where to put the giant bronze sphere that was damaged by falling debris on Sept. 11. The sculpture, which was created by the artist Fritz Koenig, was commissioned for the World Trade Center. After surviving the collapse of the twin towers, the battered sphere was moved to Battery Park. But it is scheduled to be removed this fall.

Some relatives of people who died on Sept. 11 have called for the sphere to be returned to ground zero. But the operators of the 9/11 Memorial there have resisted. And Mayor Michael R. Bloomberg, the chairman of the memorial foundation, has said the damaged sphere looks beautiful where it is now.

Mr. Foye said that he did not expect any criticism from those who want the sphere returned to ground zero and suggested that the trade center site could accommodate both sculptures. Mr. White said he had received support from families of 9/11 victims for the placement of the horse soldier statue and added that the costs of moving and maintaining the artwork would be borne by the veterans council and would not fall on taxpayers.

Lt. Gen. John F. Mulholland, the deputy commander of the U.S. Special Operations Command, said that he planned to attend the ceremony on Friday and that he believed ground zero was a fitting location for a memorial to the soldiers killed in Afghanistan as well as all of the other Americans who died responding to the 9/11 attacks.

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A Stroll With a Clingy Stranger

Dear Diary:

I am a second-year medical student at Mount Sinai on the Upper East Side. I was walking home down Madison with my “just spent 14 hours in the hospital don’t talk to me” face when an elderly gentleman in a suit called out to me,

“Excuse me, do you know where the Sarabeth’s is?”

I had never heard of the place — I’m an unseasoned Upper East Sider — so I pulled out my iPhone and mapped the address.

“Four blocks that way.”

Eager to get home, I dismissed his thanks and tried to rush off ahead. We were headed in the same direction and I didn’t want to be stuck with him any longer. But, the man was sprightly and stuck with me.

On the first block he thanked me. On the second block he told me, in reference to my iPhone, that he was “too old to try new things.” Between the third and fourth blocks he clutched my arm as I tried to cross on a red light.

I walked the last block more slowly with him, his hand still on my arm, and when we got to Sarabeth’s he released me, said, “Wish me luck! It’s a first date” and went inside.

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After 15 Years, a Roadside Performer Is Getting the Spotlight

Before social media made it easier to reach an audience, Otis Houston Jr. had already figured out a way to catch the attention of thousands of people every day.

“I come down here to the highway so people can see me – if you’re an artist, that’s what you want, people to see your work,” he said on a recent Friday as he stood along the side of the highway, which in this case was the Franklin D. Roosevelt Drive near 125th Street.

Since 1997, Mr. Houston, 58, a performer, sculptor and poet who calls himself “Black Cherokee” because he is, in fact, part Cherokee, has created something of a performance art space next to the southbound lanes of the F.D.R. Drive, in the shadow of the Robert F. Kennedy Bridge. Just about every day, he puts up hand-scrawled signs with cryptic messages and sets up offbeat exhibits, often with discarded objects he has picked up.

Then as traffic crawls by – remember, this is the F.D.R. Drive during the morning commute — he strikes odd and provocative poses. He does it for the amusement, and, he insists, education, of drivers. Among other things, Mr. Houston is known for doing exercises and reciting poetry.

Soon, Mr. Houston will gain an even wider audience, because his quirky shows and unusual stage will be featured in a short film.

“He’s an absolute icon; everybody knows him,” said Benjamin Rosen, 36, who, with another New York City filmmaker, Sam Cullman, 35, has made “Black Cherokee,” a 22-minute documentary that will be screened on Nov. 15 as part of a documentary film festival called DOC NYC. “This is such an unlikely place for doing art and being creative. It’s such a drab place, and he’s this oasis of creativity.”

Mr. Rosen and Mr. Cullman were visiting Mr. Houston recently at his usual spot. Wearing blue farmer-look overalls, he was posing with an apple wedged in his mouth, remaining as still as a statue and expressionless as cars passed.

Many drivers slowed and honked, waved and yelled hello. Many seemed to know him by his first name, or his nickname. Eventually, Mr. Houston relaxed, laughed loudly and began shouting hello back.

“He has a captive audience,” Mr. Cullman said. “He had this genius idea to use this method to make a connection to people.”

Because of Mr. Houston’s antics and where he performs them, people might assume he is a mentally ill, homeless man. The documentary shows that is not the case.

He is “trying to be a legitimate artist in an unlikely place,” Mr. Cullman said.

His material includes signs of his own making. “The man who was too proud to run,” reads one. “The Comeback Kid,” reads another.

“They seem, at first, sort of whimsical, and you don’t know what it’s about,’’ Mr. Cullman said. “There’s clearly a social satire and commentary behind it.”

The filmmakers met Mr. Houston in 2007, after spotting him along the roadway.

Ever photogenic – many commuters know him as man who balances a watermelon on his head — Mr. Houston has achieved some notoriety over the years. But the film offers a view of him away from the highway. It reveals that Mr. Houston, who perhaps millions of people have seen only as a street spectacle, is a serious, sensitive family man, which is highlighted by poignant scenes of him caring for his dying father.

He grew up in Greenville, S.C., and came to New York as a teenager in the late 1960s. He described how he began dealing drugs and spent time in prison for drug-related offenses in the 1970s and 1980s. While in prison, he took an art class, and, after his release, began making art. He started exercising near his F.D.R. spot, which is two blocks from his apartment in East Harlem, and then began using the space as an atelier, to use Mr. Rosen’s term.

Mr. Houston, who works part-time as a custodian at a health club in Manhattan, uses a broom and rake to keep the area tidy. The police have ordered him to remove his items, and have given him summonses for disorderly conduct. Mr. Houston says he always explains in court that he is not causing problems and has succeeded in having most of the summonses dismissed.

Mr. Houston, a vegetarian, talks about the importance of eating right and avoiding liquor, cigarettes and drugs. He often poses with pieces of fruit, he says, to promote good nutrition.

His main subjects are “God, exercise, and be nice to people.”

He said, “I’m just trying to express the way I feel.”

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Sketch Released in Sexual Abuse of 10-Year-Old Inside Queens Library

The police released a sketch Tuesday of a man they say sexually abused a 10-year-old girl on Monday inside the Pomonok branch of the Queens Public Library on Jewel Avenue.

He is described as a light-skinned Hispanic man, 20 to 25 years old, with slicked-back black hair pulled back in a bun, standing about 5 feet 10 inches tall and weighing about 200 pounds.

The attack occurred Monday about 4 p.m., the police said. They declined to release further details about the crime. They ask that anyone with tips contact Crime Stoppers.

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