Tenants on Edge After Man Attacks 3 Women on LES: Police

Residents of a Lower East Side housing complex say they fear another attack following the rape of a woman in her apartment Friday — possibly after her assailant gained entry through a door with a broken lock.

Wanted posters posted throughout the Lower East Side offer an award for the man wanted for raping a woman inside of her apartment at the Baruch Houses.

“It’s horrible,” Yvette Mercedes, of the tenant’s association, said.

The Baruch Houses attack was the third in a violent day that started when the suspect attempted to rape a woman on James Street, police said. He then allegedly groped and attempted to rob a woman on Broome Street.

It appears the suspect was able to get in the apartment through an entry door with a broken lock.
Yvette Mercedes and Mildred Martinez of the tenant’s association say that the front doors of Baruch buildings frequently have broken locks. Their security fears about the unlocked doors have fallen on deaf ears, they said.

NBC New York confirmed that 110 and 120 Baruch Drive had broken locks Friday.

NYCHA work orders show 24 different complaints about broken door locks in the past month. Most of them have been fixed, but not all. One order at a different building on the sprawling complex was for the main entry door. It was dated October 13th and marked WTSCH, code for "waiting to be scheduled."

“We are constantly calling and nothing happens,” Martinez said.

But the NYCHA says the door in the building where the rape took place does lock properly. A spokesperson for the agency said: “NYCHA takes the safety of our residents seriously, and both yesterday and today, senior staff visited Baruch Houses to assess the security measures.”

Some tenants say conditions at the apartment complex are better than in the past.

“I don’t want to knock the mayor because he has made major changes,” Martinez said. “Everything takes time.”

There are still questions about whether the attacker forced the door open or simply snuck in behind a tenant.

Some neighbors say that tenants have been breaking locks because replacement keys are too expensive.

“They charge $15 for a set of keys for the front door,” tenant Robert Rivera said. “They keep on breaking these doors because they can’t afford to buy a key every time.”

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