The NYPD stepped up patrols in Central Park Friday, a day after a 27-year-old woman jogging near Swan Lake, not far from the Wollman Ice Rink, was ambushed by a man wearing all black, choked until she lost consciousness and raped.
It happened just before 7:30 a.m., at a time the iconic Manhattan park is typically bustling with runners, dog walkers and people headed to work. The man is still on the loose, putting those who frequent the area on edge as cops hunt for him.
The NYPD has released photos and video of the suspect, and law enforcement sources told NBC New York they believe the attacker took a train downtown following the attack, down from 59th Street and Fifth Avenue.
NBC New York obtained additional video Friday afternoon that shows the person of interest step into Smoke Valley on Eighth Avenue and West 38th Street. A worker at the store said that the person tried to sell his cellphone, but after haggling at the counter for a few minutes, no sale was made and the man exited the shop. The employee said the man appeared calm.
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Police said the Central Park suspect appears to be a different man from the convicted rapist who attacked a woman near 103rd Street and the FDR Drive about 45 minutes after the Central Park attack.
That suspect, age 38, was released from prison three days ago for a rape committed in 2005, according to the NYPD, and has a lengthy criminal record. He faces attempted rape, strangulation and forcible touching charges.
His name has not been released, and though authorities say there does not appear to be a link between him and the Central Park case, they're still "exploring all angles."
No details on the condition of the woman attacked near FDR Drive were provided. The woman in the Central Park case was taken to a hospital in stable condition.
John Miller, the NYPD's deputy commissioner of Intelligence & Counterterrorism, said she came running out of a trail after she said she had been attacked and flagged down passersby, who found park police. The man in black was gone.
Anyone with information on him is asked to call Crime Stoppers at 1-800-577-TIPS.