Sept. 9, 2015 By Michael Florio
Residents concerns are growing after a woman was raped last week in Jackson Heights.
Last Wednesday a man followed a 35-year-old woman as she was walking home near 84th Street and 35th Avenue in the early hours. The man allegedly put a sharp object against her throat and then raped her.
Since the incident, word has spread about the rape throughout the neighborhood, with many residents going on the Jackson Heights Life online forum calling for a greater police presence and increased lighting past 37th Ave.
A forum user, Mgrave22, posted, “We need to have more police patrolling the streets in order to deter this type of disgusting behavior. How can a woman feel safe in this neighborhood when they constantly hear news like this.”
Another urged for users to call elected officials and voice these concerns.
Some may get their wish, as increased police presence should soon be arriving to Jackson Heights, according to Councilman Daniel Dromm.
Dromm said that more officers will be arriving following the city council’s funding of 1,300 more officers.
“There will be more police officers out of their cars and walking the beat,” Dromm said.
The 115th Police Precinct, which covers much of Jackson Heights, reported that the number of rapes were up 20 percent for the year through August 30, with 24 reported so far this year compared to 20 for the same time period in 2014.
Dromm said that adding greater street lighting on the blocks past 37th Avenue could be an issue for those people who live in those areas.
He said that many people who live along these blocks do not want increased lighting. He added that residents have said that they would struggle to sleep at night with the lights shining in their windows.
“There is sufficient lighting at this point,” Dromm said.
One Jackson Heights Life user, Daisy, claims otherwise: “It’s incredibly scary and something I worry about coming home at night. After 37th [Ave] it gets very desolate and dark on the side streets.”
However, Congressman Joseph Crowley said in a statement that improved lighting conditions could make the streets safer.
“Improving our street lighting, practicing effective prevention strategies, and raising overall awareness are all things we can do to combat sexual violence and ensure the safety of every New Yorker,” he said.
Dromm too said that increasing people’s awareness is key.
Dromm and his staff handed out more than 350 fliers that had a screenshot of the suspect from the surveillance footage sent out by the NYPD. He handed out the fliers near the scene of the crime, on the corner of 84th Street and 35th on Sunday, to get the word out.
“We want to inform the community and make sure they are aware,” he said. “We also urge anyone with information to call the police.”
Until this suspect is captured residents, particularly women, should be cautious and walk in pairs whenever possible, he said.
“I have faith that police will capture this individual and he will be put behind bars fairly soon,” Dromm said.
The suspect is described as a male Hispanic who is 5’4″, slim build and was last seen wearing a mask, a dark colored shirt and jeans. He is seen on surveillance video putting on a most and waiting for the victim to pass.
Anyone with information is asked to call 800-577-TIPS