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Queens Chronicle

Forest Park rape puts light on safety issues

Security concerns abound in wake of second attack on jogger this year

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Posted: Thursday, September 5, 2013 10:30 am | Updated: 11:14 am, Thu Sep 12, 2013.

A 69-year-old woman who was jogging in Forest Park last Monday afternoon was attacked by a man with a stun gun and raped — the second such attack in the park this year — and police are vigorously searching for the man who assaulted her.

The attack happened around 4:30 p.m. on Aug. 26 in a remote area of the park near Myrtle Avenue and Forest Park Drive. The woman was approached by the suspect who then tased her, pushed her to the ground, and raped her. The victim was treated and released from Queens Hospital Center.

The suspect is described as a white man, 30 to 40 years old, between 5 feet, 9 to 10 inches tall with light brown hair, clean-shaven and wearing a black T-shirt and black sweat pants.

The attack was similar to another assault that occurred in March when a man tasered another woman jogging in Forest Park along a bridle path near the Jackie Robinson Parkway and Metropolitan Avenue. That suspect attempted to rape the woman, but failed when he was chased away from the scene by two other parkgoers.

Police have not linked the two attacks and the suspect from the first case has not yet been arrested.

The two attacks have placed a spotlight on safety in the park. After the March attack, the 102nd Precinct received a beef-up in patrols, including officers on horseback riding through the park. The 102nd Precinct’s commanding officer, Deputy Inspector Hank Sautner, dedicated two of his officers to park duty back in May to combat concerns about crime in the park.

During Labor Day weekend, police vehicles repeatedly patrolled the park along Forest Park Drive and camped out on the edges of the park on Park Lane South, Woodhaven Boulevard and Myrtle Avenue.

But Ed Wendell, president of the Woodhaven Residents’ Block Association, said conditions in the park may be what is inviting the crime.

Nearly all of Forest Park Drive and the section of Myrtle Avenue that cuts through the park between Woodhaven Boulevard and Park Lane South have had malfunctioning lampposts all summer. The street lights on the Myrtle Avenue spur have been completely dark, while along Forest Park Drive west of Woodhaven Boulevard, the lights are on during the day, but not at night.

Wendell said it was “reckless” that the lighting problem has not yet been fixed, despite complaints going back to early August.

He himself fell victim to park crime on Aug. 28 when his car was broken into while parked on Myrtle Avenue near Victory Field around 6 a.m. Another car had its windows smashed in as well.

Wendell said it was dark there at the time he parked his car and he noticed the streetlights were out.

Officers from the 102nd Precinct have been out putting fliers on cars warning that there were burglars in the area and police arrested one man accused of breaking into vehicles in the vicinity of 98th Street and Park Lane South near the Forest Park Co-ops.

“Just about every Sunday, you’ll see a police officer there putting fliers on cars warning them about auto break-ins,” Wendell said. “They’re aware of the problem and they’re doing what they can.”

He also noted how easy it is to end up in a remote part of the park, such as the location where last week’s rape took place, and warned parkgoers to avoid going into isolated parts of the park alone.

“People don’t realize how easy it is to get isolated in Forest Park,” he said. “People do have to take precautions when walking on the paths. Just because you can see Union Turnpike from where you are does not mean people on Union Turnpike can see you.”

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1 comment:

  • headhuntnyc posted at 11:16 am on Mon, Sep 9, 2013.

    headhuntnyc Posts: 2

    The 102nd Precinct needs to do more. The park is not safe. Too much drinking, drugging and sex. It needs a clean sweep - get rid of the mattresses, the garbage, fix the lights. The community needs a safe place to enjoy the outdoors and Forest Park is not it.