By Steve Mosco
Elected officials are urging residents to stay vigilant and be on alert for a knife-wielding sex offender in Forest Hills.
After three separate sex assaults occurred in the predawn hours of late May and early June, City Councilwoman Karen Koslowitz (D-Forest Hills) joined Council Speaker Christine Quinn (D-Manhattan), state Sen. Toby Stavisky (D-Whitestone), state Assemblywoman Grace Meng (D-Flushing) and Councilwoman Julissa Ferreras (D-East Elmhurst) in passing out fliers at the busy 63rd Drive subway stop to raise awareness and seek the public’s assistance in apprehending the brute.
“It is very disturbing for something like this to happen in a neighborhood as safe as Forest Hills,” said Koslowitz. “While I would like to see more late night police patrols, given that all three incidents occurred late at night, it is also important that the community remains alert and report any suspicious activities to the police.”
Police have identified the suspect as Ibrahima Ragis, a 20-year-old black male. He is described as having black hair, stands at 5 feet 5 inches and weighs 160 pounds.
According to police, the suspect is wanted for sexual abuse, rape and a robbery. The first victim, a 19-year-old woman, was entering her home at around 3:30 a.m. May 19 when the suspect allegedly grabbed her, pulled her into a walkway and sexually abused her before fleeing with the victim’s money and cellphone.
The suspect then allegedly accosted a 17-year-old woman as she was walking home at 3 a.m. May 28. According to cops, the suspect put his hand over the victim’s mouth and dragged her into an alley where she was raped.
Finally, the suspect allegedly robbed his third victim, a 22-year-old woman, while she was entering her home at about 2:30 a.m. June 3 and fled after being seen by a witness.
According to police statistics, Forest Hills has one of Queens’ lowest crime rates. The 112th Precinct, which includes Forest Hills and Rego Park, had three rapes this year, the third fewest in the borough’s 16 precincts.
And of the 23,737 major crimes reported in Queens in 2011, only 924 — fewer than 4 percent — were in the 112th Precinct.
Such statistics do not provide any comfort to some of the area’s residents.
“I’m still scared to be out myself at those hours,” said Sheila Peverly, a Forest Hills residents referring to the early hours when the sex assaults occurred. “It was shocking to hear about something like this here. And three by one guy in a few weeks. He’s got to be a sicko.”
Anyone with information in regards to any of these incidents is asked to call the NYPD’s Crime Stoppers Hotline at 1-800-577-TIPS.
Reach reporter Steve Mosco by e-mail at email@example.com or by phone at 718-260-4546.