By Connor Adams Sheets
Police hope that a recent string of brutal robberies in Flushing, Murray Hill, Forest Hills and Rego Park has been curbed with the arrest Friday of a Nassau County suspect.
Brian Rodriguez, 33, has been charged with robbery in two Rego Park incidents, but police in three Queens precincts believe those two robberies were connected to eight other muggings that took place between Jan. 2 and Jan. 16.
“We have a bad robbery pattern going on right now. He is targeting women, coming up from behind, punching them brutally,” Sgt. Eugene Marcaida of the 109th Precinct in Flushing said the day before Rodriguez was arrested. “It’s so brutal the women can’t look up in time and get a description. He’s just kicking and punching them over and over.”
Rodriguez was being held on $200,000 bail at the Vernon C. Bain Center in the Bronx as of Tuesday afternoon, according to the city Department of Correction. Another suspect in the two robberies has yet to be arrested, according to the Queens district attorney.
Three of the robberies occurred in the 109th Precinct, where women were targeted at 7:15 a.m. Jan. 2 near the intersection of 149th Street and Sanford Avenue in Murray Hill; at 7:10 p.m. Jan. 4 at 43-04 158th St. in Murray Hill; and at 11:20 p.m. Jan. 16 near the intersection of 161st Street and Oak Avenue near Kissena Park in Flushing, according to Marcaida. Rodriguez was not charged in any of the 109th robberies.
A robber stole cash in all three robberies, but in one he took a cell phone and credit cards and in another he took a Bible the woman was carrying on her way home from church, according to Marcaida.
Rodriguez has only been formally charged with committing two of the 10 robberies, according to police.
The first involved the mugging of a 48-year-old woman at 10:30 p.m. Jan. 9 near the intersection of 102nd Street and 64th Avenue in Rego Park, while the second was the robbery of a 28-year-old woman at 10:25 p.m. near the intersection of 98th Street and 62nd Drive, according to police.
Both women were allegedly apprehended from behind by Rodriguez’s suspected accomplice while Rodriguez allegedly punched them in the face before stealing their belongings, according to the criminal complaint.
Six of the 10 connected robberies took place in the 112th Precinct and all shared certain features, according to 112th Deputy Inspector Christopher Tamola, who spoke to residents about the spree at a packed 112th Community Council meeting Jan. 19.
“There are some common denominators here,” Tamola said.
In all six incidents, the robber singled out a woman walking alone under construction scaffolding or dimly lit areas, approached her from behind and then knocked her to the ground, he said, and in some cases he punched the woman before stealing her purse, Tamola said at the meeting. In three of the cases, the victims were listening to iPods when the man struck, he said.
The victims of the 10 robberies were all women between the ages of 22 and 62, according to police.
Rodriguez was scheduled to appear in court Feb. 4.
Reach reporter Connor Adams Sheets by e-mail at [email protected] or by phone at 718-260-4538.