A suspect charged with committing a rape in Central Park on Thursday was arrested in Howard Beach early Saturday morning.
Paulie Velez, 25, was arrested in Old Howard Beach, where his mother reportedly lives, just before 1 a.m. on Saturday.
Velez was caught near 101st Street and 160th Avenue after running away, jumping over fences and into the water and trying to hide under a deck, the New York Post reported.
“After an intense, around the clock investigation by our Special Victims investigators and their counterparts in other [Detective Bureaus] units,” and with assistance from the 106th Precinct, Velez was apprehended and charged with rape, NYPD Chief of Detectives James Essig said on Twitter.
According to police, the crime occurred at 7:20 a.m. on Thursday morning as the 27-year-old female victim walked along a footpath near Swan Lake and the Wollman Ice Rink.
Police said the victim was approached from behind and choked before being sexually assaulted. They believe she was unconscious for some time before coming to and flagging someone down in the park for help. She was transported to a hospital in stable condition, according to police.
Velez reportedly went to a convenience store after the incident to try and sell the phone he stole from the victim but was turned away and then he took the subway downtown.
He faces charges of rape, robbery, strangulation, assault, sex abuse and criminal possession of stolen property, police said.
Forty-five minutes after the attack, a separate incident of attempted rape took place a couple of miles away near 103rd Street and the FDR Drive. Police said 38-year-old Howard Shaw was arrested and that he has prior arrests for robbery and rape in 2005 and had been released just days before the attack.
Velez, who police said was homeless, lived in Florida for a time where he was charged with sexual battery, battery and kidnapping. A photograph on his Instagram page shows him wearing an ankle bracelet with a caption reading “Locked up, they won’t let me out.”
According to police, the investigation is still ongoing and additional images and video footage of the individual have been submitted for review.