UPPER MANHATTAN — Neighbors are voicing concern after two men were violently mugged under similar circumstances uptown last week, police said.
The two victims were both approached by two suspects who showed little warning before beating the men and stealing their belongings — in one case $40 and in the other an iPhone, police and the victims' families said.
Michael O’Reilly, a Grammy Award-winning recording engineer, said he was attacked and robbed by two men who appeared to be in their 20s while walking through the southeast section of Isham Park last Wednesday, June 6, at around 8:30 p.m.
Approximately 24 hours later, a resident of Hudson Heights who asked to remain anonymous was also attacked and robbed while walking his dog on Overlook Avenue and West 190th Street.
Both suffered significant injuries to their faces and bodies. O’Reilly suffered a broken nose, black eye and swollen lip, and the Hudson Heights man sustained two black eyes, bruises along his back and face, and lacerations.
Both victims spoke to DNAinfo.com New York via their wives as they recuperated from the attacks.
The families said they would like to see increased police patrols and education for the community on how to protect itself.
Increased patrols were immediately put in place in both areas after the attacks, according to police.
Although the incidents appeared similar in nature, police said they could not be certain the same suspects were responsible for the attacks.
A Parks Department official said the agency plans to add a digital camera near the site of O’Reilly’s attack. A FlashCam, a camera that shoots still images when triggered by a motion sensor, was previously installed at the site removed after residents complained.
Both victims told a harrowing tale of walking near their homes and being struck by two young men in their 20s who showed little sign of attacking before the violent muggings.
According to O’Reilly, who has lived in Inwood since the 1980s, he was walking home from work at dusk Wednesday when he saw two men sitting across from one another on the pathway leading from Broadway to Park Terrace East. One man seemed to be reading something on his cell phone while sitting on a stone bench, and the other sat on the ledge closest to Broadway, he explained.
Without warning the two men got up, and the man on the ledge, who was wearing a yellow shirt, clocked O'Reilly on the face, knocking his glasses to the ground and breaking his nose, he said.
The two men pushed him down to the ground and said, “Stay down, don’t move” while holding the 5-foot-5 O’Reilly down by the neck, the victim said.
The men then took O’Reilly’s wallet from his pants, removed $40 and placed his wallet back in his pocket before fleeing, leaving his cell phone, leather backpack and other belongings, he said.
Although O’Reilly said he had seen another man sitting near the bottom of the steps near Broadway, he could not be certain he was involved in the attack.
The next night two men preyed upon the second victim as he walked his Basenji dog near 190th Street and Overlook Terrace at approximately 10:30 p.m., the victim and police said. The man told police he was walking with his cell phone in his hand when he saw two men walking toward him.
The 6-foot-3 victim, who moved to the area with his wife from Colorado two years ago, then suddenly felt like he had “walked into a brick wall,” she said.
According to the victim, he was then thrown back and hit from behind with a blunt object that he first thought was a baseball bat, but later believed could have been a billy club or something smaller, based on the bruises.
The attackers then demanded he hand over his phone, saying “Do you want to die? Give us your phone," he said.
Both victims said they were surprised that no neighbors came to their aid, even though two people walked past O’Reilly as he stood covered in blood searching for his glasses, the victim said. Another waved off the Hudson Heights victim, also covered in blood, when he asked him to call 911, he said.
“People need to know they have to be cognizant of their surroundings,” O’ Reilly’s wife, Susan Ryan, explained. “He was just assaulted, he’s covered in blood, there’s blood on the bench. I’m trying to make sense of this, but I really can’t.”
Despite the experiences, both victims' families said they felt blessed to receive a large amount of community support over the past several days, adding they hoped that coming forward and detailing the attacks would bring changes to the neighborhood.
“At the end of the day it is up to individual citizens to learn what to do to be the squeaky wheel to get things done,” Ryan said.