Police on the hunt for violent Rego Park rapist

Police on the hunt for violent Rego Park rapist
By Bianca Fortis

The NYPD is still searching for the man wanted in a brutal rape that occurred in Rego Park last week.

The victim, a 52-year-old woman was coming out of the R train station at 63rd Drive and Queens Boulevard at about 10 p.m. Friday, when the suspect, who called himself Junior, approached and asked for her name and phone number, cops said.

After the woman refused and went into a Rite Aid, the man then followed her inside the pharmacy, started harassing her and then left, the NYPD said.

But police say the suspect did not go far. He was waiting for her when she headed out of the store, and when she got to 63-45 Saunders St., he allegedly grabbed her, threw her down a flight of steps into the apartment building and raped her, according to the NYPD.

Afterward, the suspect, who was described as a 5-foot-7 black man in his 20s with a mustache, swiped her cellphone and purse, police said.

The NYPD released surveillance video, which they said shows the suspect entering the Rite Aid.

The woman was taken by emergency responders to the hospital, cops said.

Mark Montekio, a neighborhood resident, said he had not known about what happened on the block, but he saw police tape in front of the apartment building over the weekend. He was surprised to hear about the incident and said the area is usually safe. He had not given thought before to potential late-night attacks, he said.

“We rarely have any problems,” he said.

According to NYPD crime statistics, there had been three reported rape incidents in the precinct as of Aug. 18, There were seven in all of 2012.

Richard Mumith, the spokesman for Councilwoman Karen Koslowitz (D-Forest Hills), cited a recent rise in crime as the reason for the planned installation of 30 high-tech police cameras throughout Rego Park and Forest Park.

Mumith listed specific cases the Council member found especially unsettling, including the attempted rape of a 23-year-old woman jogging through Forest Park in March.

He also cited a June incident in which three women were held at gunpoint near Slocum Crescent and Greenway Terrance and robbed of their purses, cash, credit cards, two iPhones, an iPad and a camera.

Koslowitz secured about $1 million in city funding for the installation of the cameras, according to Mumith.

The Argus cameras, which are mounted on poles, feature fish-eye, 360-degree lenses.

He emphasized that the neighborhoods comprising Council District 29 — Rego Park, Forest Hills, Kew Gardens and parts of Maspeth, Richmond Hill and Elmhurst — are still among the safest in Queens, “but it’s disturbing to hear about these cases,” he said.

He said the cameras are being installed in order to keep the district as safe as it has always been.

Frank Gulluscio, district manager of Community Board 6, which covers the area, said police are the right ones to determine where cameras should be installed because they are experts about crimes that are committed.

“Anything that helps police is good,” he said. “Anything that secures a neighborhood is good. And for their placement it’s very important that we get the most bang for our dollar.”

Anyone with information about the Rego Park incident is asked to call the NYPD’s Crime Stoppers Hotline at 1-800-577-TIPS, submit tips by logging on to crimestoppers.com or text tips to 274637 (CRIMES) before entering TIP577.

Reach reporter Bianca Fortis by email at bfortis@cnglocal.com or by phone at 718-260-4546.