Police need the public’s help in finding a man wanted for questioning in a recent Jackson Heights pepper spray attack involving a woman.
Law enforcement sources said the hate crime occurred at around 4:18 a.m. on June 29 in the vicinity of Roosevelt Avenue and 82nd Street.
According to authorities, the suspect — identified as 34-year-old David Gonzalez — walked up to a 29-year-old woman and dispensed pepper spray into her eyes, then fled the scene in an unknown direction.
Sources familiar with the investigation stated that Gonzalez had been involved in an incident that occurred earlier that morning in which 24-year-old Paola Custodio allegedly attacked two transgender activists with pepper spray in the same area.
“We were doing a documentary in Jackson Heights to demonstrate the violence against transgender people and high levels of police harassment,” Bianey Garcia, one of the victims, said through an interpreter at a July 1 press conference about the hate crime. “There was a woman and a man who started harassing us and saying slurs. They called us ‘f—-ts’ and then said women like us only promote prostitution, but it is only because of the clothes we were wearing.”
Law enforcement sources said that Gonzalez attacked the 29-year-old woman about an hour after Custodio allegedly sprayed her victims. He allegedly told the victim, “This is from before,” and then sprayed the woman, authorities noted.
Officers from the 110th Precinct and EMS units responded to the scene. Paramedics brought the victim to Elmhurst Hospital for treatment.
Gonzalez stands at 6 feet tall and weighs about 170 pounds. The NYPD Hate Crimes Task Force, through the Crime Stoppers program, is offering a $2,500 reward for information leading to his arrest and conviction.
Anyone with information regarding Gonzalez’s whereabouts can call Crime Stoppers at 800-577-TIPS (for Spanish, dial 888-57-PISTA), visit the Crime Stoppers website or send a direct message on Twitter @NYPDTips. All calls and messages are kept confidential.
Custodio, meanwhile, is due back in court on Aug. 20.
Additional reporting by Mark Hallum.