NBC New York
After news of yet more sex attacks in Brooklyn Monday, the community has now taken matters into their own hands. Women are walking in groups and even forming support groups on Facebook. The Guardian Angels have taken to the area, too. John Noel reports.
Police are increasing their presence in some Brooklyn neighborhoods after a string of sex assaults on women, some of which are part of the same pattern while others appear isolated.
The latest attack happened at about 7:55 p.m. Monday, on 36th Street between Fourth and Fifth avenues in Sunset Park. Police said an 18-year-old woman had just gotten off the train and was walking along 36th Street when a man groped her and ran away.
Police said Tuesday that the incident is not part of the pattern of attacks. The latest of those occurred on Sunday.
In that case, the woman told police she was walking home from the store by herself and was on Vanderbilt Street in Windsor Terrace when the man attacked. The suspect groped her and fled.
The victim's sister told NBC New York that "he grabbed her on the chest really hard from behind, it just took her by total surprise." The victim screamed, alerting people in the neighborhood and scaring him off, the sister said.
But in what could be a breakthrough for investigators, the victim told police she remembered he put his hand on a silver car while following her. Police were able to lift fingerprints off the car Monday.
Sources cautioned that the suspect may not be able to be identified through the prints if the suspect has no prior convictions.
Until this clue, police have been relying on victims' descriptions of their suspects and security video to generate three sketches of possible suspects in the sex attacks, which have happened in Sunset Park, Park Slope and Greenwood Heights since March.
Most of the women have been groped and grabbed; in one of the assaults the victim was raped.
The attacks have driven women in Brooklyn to be more vigilant.
"I just think I'm more aware of my surroundings, not walking around with my headbuds on anymore," said Hope Kaufman, who lives in Windsor Terrace. "And when I'm walking around, I look for neighbors to walk home with me."
Another Windsor Terrace woman said she has also changed her routines.
"I was going to walk home alone but I called my friend," Anna Cantirino told NBC New York Monday night. "My dad is really concerned about it."
The sister of the latest victim said, "I think one is too many, 12 is 12 too many. He needs to turn himself in or get help."
Earlier Sunday, a 35-year-old woman told police she was assaulted and robbed at Sixth Avenue and 60th Street in Sunset Park in a separate case that authorities do not believe is part of the pattern.
Police said the suspect in that case pulled the victim's hair and fondled her before stealing her purse. That incident happened at about 5:30 a.m.