Queens District Attorney Melinda Katz showing the arsenal of homemade bombs and ghost guns found in an Astoria apartment. (Photo from the Queens District Attorney Melinda Katz’s Facebook)

Former Security Guard For Great Neck Public Schools Is Facing Criminal Charges

In late January, law enforcement officials reported that one of the Great Neck Public Schools (GNPS) contracted security guards was arrested and facing criminal charges. Former Great Neck Public School Security guard Angelo Hatziagelis, 51, and his brother Andrew, 39, were indicted on 130 counts of criminal possession of a variety of weapon-related charges.

(Photos from the Office of the Queens District Attorney)

According to a press release from Queens District Attorney Melinda Katz, “an arsenal of improvised explosive devices and ghost guns, including assault rifles, was found inside an Astoria apartment [the brothers] shared with their mother and another brother. Instructions for making a variety of bombs, anarchist propaganda, and a ‘hit list,’ with ‘cops, judges, politicians, celebrities’ and ‘banker scum’ scrawled on it, were also found during a search of the home.”

On Monday, Jan. 22, the Great Neck Public School Superintendent Kenneth R. Bossert, Ed.D., notified the school community that the security guard was facing criminal charges. Angelo was assigned to JFK Elementary. Bossert wrote, “It is important to note that the charges pending against this individual are unrelated to children or anything associated with Great Neck Public Schools.”

Bossert informed the community that the Great Neck Public School district contracts most of its security personnel through Arrow Security. “We have reviewed all hiring practices and screening protocols with Arrow to make sure that all relevant actions were taken before this individual was placed within GNPS. We have confirmed that they were.”

In a statement to the community released on Tuesday, Jan. 30, Bossert once again assured the community that the security guard “has not been present at JFK or any district facility since his arrest, and he will not be permitted to return to school grounds for any reason moving forward.”

“During a press conference held by the Queens County District Attorney’s Office, we, along with members of the media and the public, learned about the severity of the charges,” wrote Bossert. “We share your concern regarding the gravity of these charges and extend our gratitude to law enforcement for their swift action in addressing this matter to ensure the safety of all.

The Queens District Attorney’s Office shared that “the defendants, both of 36th Avenue in Astoria, are awaiting arraignment on a 130-count indictment charging them with eight counts of criminal possession of a weapon in the first degree, nine counts of criminal possession of a weapon in the second degree, 47 counts of criminal possession of a weapon in the third degree, six counts of criminal possession of a firearm, eight counts of reckless endangerment in the second degree, 14 counts of criminal possession of a weapon in the fourth degree, six counts of criminal sale of a firearm in the third degree, 15 counts of make/transport/dispose/deface weapons and dangerous weapons, three counts of unlawful purchase of body armor, one count of attempted criminal possession of a weapon in the third degree, one count of attempted criminal possession of a firearm, and three counts of unlawful possession of a pistol or revolver ammunition, and nine counts of unlawfully dealing with fireworks and dangerous fireworks.”

Improvised explosive devices (IEDs) found in the Astoria appartment.
(Photo from the Office of the Queens District Attorney Melinda Katz)

Before searching the Astoria apartment, the Queens District Attorney shared that based on prior intelligence, “members of the Queens District Attorney’s Crime Strategies and Intelligence Bureau launched an investigation into the purchase of firearm component parts, accessories, and the manufacture of illegal ghost guns by the defendants. Members of the NYPD were brought into the investigation to assist in the collection of additional data, and a search warrant was secured.”

On Wednesday, Jan. 17, law enforcement officials executed a search warrant on the brothers’ residence, resulting in their arrests and the seizure of improvised explosive devices (IEDs), guns, ammunition, body armor, and more. Members of the NYPD Bomb Squad were called to the scene to respond and evacuate the building due to the discovery of the live IEDs.

District Attorney Katz said, “The city is safer today. My Crime Strategies and Intelligence Bureau launches investigations every day so that we find illegal weapons, including guns and, in this case, explosive devices. We cannot measure the number of lives that were saved, but we do know that these weapons will never hurt anyone.”

NYPD Commissioner Edward A. Caban said the “charges underscore the harsh reality that our communities contain a small number of people who conceivably harbor evil intent. This cache of weapons–including explosives and untraceable, 3D-printed ghost guns–had the potential to wreak horrendous carnage. Along with our NYPD investigators, I thank all of our local, state, and federal law enforcement partners for their persistence in identifying, investigating, and holding fully accountable anyone who poses a risk to New Yorkers’ safety and well-being.”

The intensity of these charges has left members of the Great Neck community rattled. But the Great Neck School District and Superintendent Bossert assured the community that “the safety, health and welfare of all students, faculty, and staff are of paramount importance.”

“It is worth noting that this individual met all New York State requirements to hold an unarmed security guard license at the time of his arrest, including a required criminal background check and fingerprinting. We have conducted a careful review of all mandated protocols with our contracted service provider, Arrow Security, to ensure no steps were overlooked during the hiring process,” wrote Bossert. “Additionally, Arrow Security confirmed that this individual also underwent and passed a full background check by an independent investigations firm, as well as drug testing prior to his placement within GNPS.”

The Great Neck Public School District will continue to work with Arrow Security to review vetting protocols and insist upon a rigorous background check beyond what New York State requires for any individual placed in any of the school buildings, shared Bossert.

“We take this matter very seriously and will maintain close collaboration and cooperation with law enforcement officials at all times,” wrote Bossert.

The Queens District Attorney Katz shared that “the defendants’ next court date is Feb. 15. If convicted, they each face up to 25 years in prison.”


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