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Homeless man indicted in two elevator attacks inside Forest Hills apartment buildings: DA

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A homeless man living in a Corona shelter was indicted by a Queens grand jury in two separate elevator attacks in Forest Hills. Photo courtesy of NYPD

A knife-wielding homeless man was indicted by a Queens grand jury for attacking two women inside elevators in separate incidents in Forest Hills last month.

Ralph Toro, 62, was arraigned Thursday, Jan. 27, before Queens Supreme Court Justice Ushir Pandit-Durant on a six-count indictment charging him with attempted robbery, sexual abuse, criminal possession and menacing, according to Queens District Attorney Melinda Katz.

According to charges, Toro, a registered Level 3 sex offender living in a shelter at the Holiday Inn Express near Flushing Meadows Corona Park, allegedly stood inside of an elevator on the morning of Dec. 17 with a 28-year-old woman in an apartment building on 75th Street.

When the doors opened, Toro began to exit the elevator, then suddenly turned around and allegedly pulled out a knife while demanding money from the woman, according to the DA. He reached into her jacket pockets. The victim shoved the defendant away from her and fled.

Katz said that around noon on the same day, Toro followed a 51-year-old woman into an elevator inside of an apartment building on 108th Street. Toro allegedly pulled out a knife, demanded that the victim give him money, and blocked her from exiting the elevator.

As Toro continued to demand money from the woman, she informed him that she had no cash and emptied the contents of her pocketbook onto the floor of the elevator, according to the charges. The defendant, while still holding the knife, allegedly put his hand down the victim’s pants and sexually assaulted her. The victim tried to fight him off and the defendant then fled the location.

Katz said the second incident was captured on video surveillance. Detectives from the 112th Precinct in Forest Hills were able to locate additional surveillance video from various sources and traced Toro’s movements to the Corona shelter, located at 113-10 Horace Harding Expy., less than one mile from the second incident.

Toro was taken into custody by detectives after employees at the shelter identified him from still photos taken from the surveillance video, according to the DA.

“The defendant is accused of committing two separate, terrifying elevator attacks — approximately an hour apart, on the same day — inside different Forest Hills’ apartment buildings,” Katz said. “As alleged, the defendant waited for the women to be alone and in a confined space to pull out a knife and attack them.”

Justice Pandit-Usher ordered Toro to return to court on March 3. If convicted, he faces up to 16 years to life in prison.

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