Hero helps thwart Sunnyside rape

THE COURIER/photo by Michael Pantelidis

Sunnyside residents can feel safer under one Good Samaritan’s watch.

Mike Novak woke up to the sound of a woman screaming at 5:45 a.m. on April 8 – Easter Sunday.

The 54 year old rushed downstairs, thinking of his wife’s safety first. After finding her unharmed, Novak ran outside to find a woman being attacked and groped by a man in the bushes down the block from his house.

“I heard someone screaming, ‘Help me, help me,’” Novak said. “I ran out into the street and I heard the screaming again. I saw there was a commotion in the bushes in front of the house down the street. As I came closer, the guy looked up, saw me and ran.”

Novak, who has 30 years of kung fu experience, initially gave chase, but was not wearing shoes and was unable to catch the suspect.

“He had a good lead on me and he was wearing sneakers,” said the Sunnyside resident of 31 years. “The lady was saying, ‘Please don’t leave me,’ so I went back to her. I pulled her out of the bush and brought her inside. She was disheveled and frightened.”

Due to the darkness, Novak was unable to provide a detailed description of the deviant, but said he was a Hispanic male in his late 20s, approximately 5’7”, wearing a brown, hooded sweatshirt and blue jeans. The victim, a neighbor of Novak’s, is 30 years old and roughly four inches shorter than her attacker.

According to Novak, the woman said she was returning from an evening out with her family and was walking home from the nearby No. 7 train station when she was attacked on 39th Avenue and 46th Street. The hero broke up the assault mere moments after it began.

Despite his valiant behavior, Novak is hopeful most would react in the same manner he did.

“I’m not the kind of person that’s going to listen to someone screaming for help and lower the blinds,” said Novak, who does not fear confrontation due to his martial arts experience. “I did what a person is supposed to do. When there is a woman in danger, you are supposed to get help and not just sit around and do nothing. Today it’s a stranger – tomorrow it could be your loved one. I don’t think of myself as a hero. I did what I had to do, which was get this scumbag off of the lady.”

Local elected officials united with Novak at a rally on April 10 to speak out against the attack. The legislators and Sunnyside’s Good Samaritan also handed out fliers with a description of the perpetrator to raise the public’s awareness of the incident.

“One sexual assault against any woman in this city is one too many,” said Councilmember Jimmy Van Bramer, who is working with the 108th Precinct during the investigation. “Sunnyside is one of the safest communities in New York City and we all must be vigilant as a community as the 108th precinct pursues leads in the case. I will do all I can to assist the NYPD in getting this sexual predator off our streets. We will track down this cowardly criminal and make sure he is punished and put away.”

The police request that anyone with information regarding the attack call the NYPD’s Crime Stoppers Hotline at 800-577-TIPS.

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