Over the course of six months, a serial sexual predator hastargeted six known victims in southern Brooklyn, the latestincident taking place on Friday, August 26, at Prospect and SixthAvenues. But local residents and elected officials hope that itwon’t take much longer before the culprit is caught.
Residents of Sunset Park, Bay Ridge, Greenwood Heights, WindsorTerrace and Park Slope say that they are frustrated and scared atthe fact that the suspect(s) is still free to roam and target morewomen, and they are quickly losing faith in local police to keepthem safe.
So they are organizing women’s self-defense classes, writing toelected officials, calling the 72nd Precinct with concerns andkeeping one another in the loop through local blogs and email listsrun by community groups such as the Concerned Citizens of GreenwoodHeights and the 23rd Street Neighbors Association.
There is even a rally being planned for Wednesday, September 14,and 8 p.m. outside the Prospect Avenue R station, where the latestattack occurred. The event is organized by a citizens collectivecalled SafeSlope.
Let’s start getting some accountability, working together andnot [ignoring] people, said Bo Samajopoulos, a South Sloperesident who noted that officers from the 72nd precinct ignored theexistence of surveillance video of the first attack on 16th Streeton March 20 for weeks until he sent the footage to mediaoutlets.
There is a lot of sexual harassment in the neighborhood, saidSunset Park resident Lisa Maione to police at a June public safetymeeting of Community Board 7. I want to come home and not beyelled at for having my hair up or down, for being on a bike, forbeing a woman.
Police thought they caught their guy on June 7, following thesurrender of 24-year-old William Giraldo, a Bensonhurst residentand livery cab driver who recognized himself in surveillancefootage of him in the same store as the lone rape victim before shewas attacked.
But rape charges were dropped in early August after attackscontinued to occur. Giraldo was released from prison, but stillfaces deportation despite being married to a U.S. citizen.
Now the NYPD has released a new sketch of the suspect andallocated Brooklyn-wide resources to supplement those used by the72nd Precinct for safety measures. These measures include posting1,500 flyers on businesses and poles, setting up a temporarycommand center in the area and increasing patrols.
Councilmember Sara González has also gotten involved, requestingregular updates from Deputy Inspector Jesus Raul Pintos of the 72ndPrecinct and urging the Sunset Park Business Improvement Districtand local merchants to maintain their surveillance equipment andkeep copies for a period sufficient to ensure that the police havethe opportunity to review the tapes.
Residents are also encouraged to walk in groups, stay alert andconsider using services such as Right Rides – a volunteerorganization that provides free rides home for women and LGBTQindividuals on weekends after midnight; call 888-215-SAFE.
Anyone with information on the cases is asked to call CrimeStoppers at 1-800-577-TIPS, or text TIP577 plus your message toCRIMES, or visit www.nypdcrimestoppers.com.