Two women and a man who were each walking alone inside a Manhattan park in the middle of the day were attacked within just minutes of each other, with the suspect in all three incidents threatening to sexually assault the victims, police said.
The first attack occurred around 11 a.m. Monday in Inwood Hill Park in Upper Manhattan, police said. A 34-year-old woman was punched by a man who threatened rape, then stole her phone, earbuds and watch.
Shortly after, around 11:45 a.m., a 40-year-old man walking a dog was approached by a man who said he wanted to commit a sex act, and then threatened to kill the dog, according to police. That victim saw a jogger and cried out for help, scaring the would-be attacker away.
Just minutes later, a 44-year-old woman was also walking a dog when the victim took a tree branch to the head, police said, knocking her unconscious. A passerby found her dog, and the saw the woman with her pants pulled down. The victim was later hospitalized with a cut to the forehead.
"I'm definitely not one to put myself in predicament like that to happen, but at 11 a.m. I gotta walk my dog before I go to work — who's thinking that's gonna happen? And especially with COVID, there's been so many more people walking in the park," said one parkgoer.
Mayor Bill de Blasio called the attacks "outrageous" and "completely unacceptable." He also said that the NYPD and NYC Parks Department would deploy more officers to the Inwood Hill Park area.
The Parks Department increased patrols on horseback and the NYPD added scooter task force officers.
Police are investigating to see if the three cases are connected. No arrests have been made.