Aug. 4, 2016 By Hannah Wulkan
A Long Island City resident claims that a woman was sexually assaulted in Gantry Plaza State Park Monday night, which has sparked an investigation in to the incident by the New York State Park Police, according to the NYPD.
The witness said she was out grabbing a burger with her son in the park at around 9:45 pm Monday, when she heard a strange sound coming from the tall sea grass near the red Adirondack chairs where they were sitting.
“I heard a sobbing, and I couldn’t tell if it was a child because it sounded odd, but sprinklers were on in the grass area so it was kind of muted,” the witness said. She got up to look around, but sat back down when she didn’t see anything.
A few minutes later, however, she heard the sound again, only this time “it sounded more guttural, the pained gasping sound of someone in anguish,” the Long Island City woman said. “For some reason in my mind I just thought ‘that’s the sound of a woman getting raped,’” she added.
She said she stood up on the chair to get a better view of the surrounding area, and that is when she saw the tall grass moving.
She ran to the moving weeds and yelled for whoever was in them to stop and come out.
The witness said that a man’s voice yelled back at her a string of profanity and that he sounded “alarmingly angry, not someone who had just been caught partying or with a girlfriend.” She added that she could still hear muted sobbing coming from the weeds.
The witness said that she could tell that his voice sounded younger, so she yelled back at him “don’t talk to your elders like that,” which seemed to silence him for a few seconds. She said that he then started yelling and cursing again, so she got scared and ran back to her son and told him to call 911, though he did not because he did not know what to say, as he didn’t know what was happening.
She said she ran back over, and a man who appeared to be of Indian descent in his 20s and about 5-foot-9 with brown disheveled hair jumped out of the weeds in front of her. She said he screamed at her, “I killed her, I stabbed her, I’ll stab you.” She thought for a moment about trying to take his picture or hitting him, as he was not much bigger than her, but then she got scared and ran away toward the Pepsi sign.
She said that a man who didn’t speak English and appeared to be Japanese came to help her, and she started yelling for the woman in the bushes. She saw rustling in the weeds and said the woman was crying that she couldn’t find her way out. The witness reached in and pulled her out, and as she did the woman tried to close the buttons of her white shirt that had been ripped open.
The witness said that the woman was in shock and started walking away, and though she offered to bring the alleged victim to a hospital or a police station, the woman just wanted to go home.
The witness and her son walked the woman to the train, and though the woman did not say much on the walk she did say “he looked so normal.” She sent her son and the woman on to the train, while she stopped by the 108th Police Precinct to talk to an officer.
She said she explained what transpired to an officer, and the precinct said that unless the woman filed a report, there was nothing they could do because the park was outside their jurisdiction. “I stared at them for a minute and then just left, I couldn’t believe it.”
She walked back to the park and met up with her boyfriend and son, and they spent the next hour walking through the park looking for the alleged attacker. “The creepiest part was, I saw all these nice happy people, a lot of girls going to restaurants, taking selfies with the skyline, they don’t know what just happened there,” the witness said.
“Living in New York as women we’re savvy, but we have to be careful and look out for each other,” the witness said.
On Tuesday, the witness reached out to the state park police, and had been posting about the incident on a Facebook group.
She said everyone from the group immediately got involved and started reaching out to park authorities. She said that the response from the State Park Police was incredibly swift, and they interviewed her and her boyfriend and are looking for the alleged attacker. They also cordoned off the area where the woman was attacked, and are planning to cut down the sea grass to improve visibility.
NYPD said there was a report filed Monday night about an unknown victim who was possibly sexually assaulted in the park, leading to the State Park Police investigation.
The State Park Police has not yet responded to multiple requests for comment.