In Riverside Park, Visitors on Alert but Not Deterred

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By Max A. Goldstein and Reid Spagna with additional reporting by Dan Rivoli

The only evidence of the two violent muggings in July 5 was the wanted posters plastered on almost every street lamp. Otherwise, bikers, dog walkers and sun bathers filled the park, just like any other summer day.

Police are still searching for the suspected Riverside Park attacker, whose sketch is plastered throughout the area.

No arrests have been made in the attacks, but park-goers are still enjoying their time in Riverside Park. They have just become more aware of their surroundings than usual.

“I always need to be alert,” said Megan Strong, who just moved to the city from Seattle. “I think there will be more protection now in the park.”

One dog walker, sitting on a bench, goes through Riverside daily with his pack of canines.

“A lot of people were worried. My friends and fellow dog walkers were very concerned,” said the dog walker, who did not want to give his name.

Another dog walker sitting next to him on the bench said he is more cautious about walking in certain parts of Riverside Park.

“I haven’t gone through the bird sanctuary since the incident,” said the other dog walker, a longtime Upper West Side resident. “It’s a very narrow path surrounded by trees… I avoid most desolate places.”

The police sketch posted throughout the park is of the man police believe attacked two women in the early morning hours of July 5.

The first reported attack happened around 6 a.m., when a 19-year-old woman, a freshman at Barnard College, was jogging in the park. While running close to the tennis courts near West 120th Street, the suspect grabbed her and pushed her into a wall. She struck her head and lost consciousness. The woman was found unconscious on a park bench when someone called 911. After being taken to St. Luke’s Hospital, she was treated for bleeding on the brain, a fractured cheek bone and cuts to her face and neck. Her iPod had been stolen.

After the news reports on the violent mugging of the 19-year-old jogger, a second woman came forward to report a similar attack.

The 48-year-old woman said her attacker struck at 6:20 a.m. inside the park near West 98th Street and Riverside Drive. While walking her dog, the suspect came up from behind and repeatedly struck her in the head. She told police the man kicked her in the chest and stomach while she was on the ground before fleeing. Nothing was reported stolen.

NYPD released a sketch of the man after the second victim came forward. He is described as being 5-feet, 8-inches, in his twenties, and having a thin build and black hair. He was last seen wearing blue shorts.

The police found surveillance video of the suspect an hour after the attacks, walking down a street with an iPod in his hand, possibly belonging to his first victim.

Lynn Dele McRimmon, a gospel singer who has lived in the neighborhood for more than 50 years, was shocked when she learned of the attacks.

“We have to be more alert and more discerning about the environment that we are in,” McRimmon said.

There are already efforts to spread the word to find the suspect and step up awareness in the park. Borough President Scott Stringer joined members of two community boards in the area Sunday, July 11, to hand out flyers.

“We’re distributing the description of the alleged attacker. We want it out far and wide and we’re going to stay on this until he is apprehended,” Stringer said in a phone interview after the rally. “The more we get the awareness out and the more we get the alleged attacker’s picture out—[that] will aid the police in doing the job they have to do.”

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