Authorities said they arrested the man who allegedly ambushed a 27-year-old runner in Central Park on Thursday, suffocated her until she lost consciousness and then raped her.
New York City Police detained 25-year-old Paulie Velez in Queens early Saturday morning, nearly two days after the attack in the notorious Manhattan park. The suspect now faces half a dozen charges including rape, strangulation and sexual abuse.
The suspect claimed he was not responsible for the crime as he was escorted out of Barracks 5 early Saturday morning.
The Uniform stepped up patrols in Central Park on Friday, a day after the woman running near the Swan lake, or Swan Lake, not far from the Wollman ice rink. The victim was ambushed by a suspect dressed in black who later strangled her until she lost consciousness and raped her.
The attack happened just before 7:30 a.m. Thursday, a time when Manhattan’s iconic park is often packed with joggers, dog walkers and people heading to work.
Vélez, who is a homeless person, was located by the police thanks to a tip sent to Crimestopperssaid a senior police official to our sister network News 4 . The 25-year-old used to live in Florida, where he had also been arrested for sexual assault, the official said.
Authorities clarified that the Central Park suspect appears to be a different man from the alleged convicted rapist who attacked another woman near 103rd Street and FDR Drive about 45 minutes after the Central Park attack.
That 38-year-old suspect was released from prison three days ago for a 2005 rape, according to the NYPD, and has a long criminal record. He faces charges of attempted rape, strangulation and forcible physical contact.
His name has not been released, and although authorities say there does not appear to be a link between him and the Central Park case, they are still “investigating all angles.”
No details were provided about the condition of the woman attacked near FDR Drive. The victim in the Central Park case was taken to a hospital in stable condition.
New York City Police Deputy Commissioner for Intelligence and Counterterrorism John Miller said she ran off a trail after saying she had been attacked. The suspect had already escaped.
Anyone with information on him should call authorities at 1-888-57-PISTA.