'Wild Man' of SoHo Haunts the Neighborhood's Streets, Locals Say
SOHO — Spring Street residents and workers are living in fear of a 6-foot-5 drifter they've dubbed the "Wild Man" of SoHo, who has repeatedly been arrested for threatening and assaulting them, but keeps turning back up on neighborhood streets.
The hulking 240-pound menace Richard Pearson, 48, has been likened to Larry Hogue, the "Wild Man of 96th Street" who haunted the Upper West Side in the 1990s, after Pearson was charged with throwing a brick at someone on Spring Street. Locals are begging authorities to rein him in.
Fliers about Pearson have been plastered throughout SoHo and Nolita, urging locals to help keep the repeat offender behind bars. The fliers ask people who have been victims of Pearson's or witnesses to crimes to send letters to Justice Charles Solomon before Pearson's next court date June 25.
"SoHo does not need another 'Wild Man' in NYC like Larry Hogue, who infamously and similarly terrorized the Upper West Side during the 1990s," the fliers read.
Pearson allegedly threw a brick at someone at Spring and Lafayette streets at about 9 a.m. Friday, May 17, injuring the victim's arm, court records show. According to court records, he was found with cocaine and was arrested on May 22.
He was charged with felony assault and a misdemeanor drug charge and is being held on Rikers Island in lieu of $5,000 bail. But a grand jury voted Wednesday to drop the assault charge.
Pearson has been cuffed by police 16 times in the past 30 years, according to court records.
Leshana Theodore, manager of the Spring Street boutique Variazioni, said Thursday that the 48-year-old New York native regularly makes sexual comments to her, enters the store and gropes mannequins and, about a month ago, violently grabbed a customer's wrist.
"One time he came up close like he was trying to kiss me," she said, noting she is careful to never exit the shop alone at night.
At Lafayette Smoke Shop, worker Ripon Roy said Pearson — who court records show has been arrested four times in the 5th Precinct in the last year and a half — has attacked workers and damaged merchandise.
"He's tried to hit us. He's always in a fighting mood," Roy said.
Both locals said they have called police about Pearson multiple times with little result.
"They come and take him, and the next day he comes back," Roy said, estimating the cigarette and magazine shop's staff has called police more than 10 times in the past year, as the store's manager told The Villager.
Pearson's lawyer did not immediately respond to a request for comment.
Judges take victim impact statements into consideration when determining criminal sentences, a spokesman for the city's office of court administration said Thursday. Statements submitted by community members may also be taken into consideration but do not hold the same legal significance.