INWOOD — Police are looking for three suspects who attempted to rob an Inwood family with an L-shaped piece of plastic they hoped would be mistaken for a gun.
The polyamorous family — which consists of a woman, her husband and her girlfriend — were walking at the northern end of Isham Park where it meets Park Terrace West Saturday night when they noticed a group of young men walking very closely behind. The men were wearing hoodies or hats and had black scarves over their faces.
One of the men then motioned to them, calling, “Come here, come here,” before brandishing what appeared to be a gun.
“I could blast you away right here,” the would-be triggerman told the group, according to Rose Fox, 33, who was with her 39-year-old husband and her 33-year-old girlfriend.
Fox, who is open about her polyamorous lifestyle, looked at the "weapon," and saw that it appeared to be an L-shaped piece of dark plastic.
“We were in front of a building and there were other people around, and the 'gun' really did look fake, so I shouted really loudly for them to get the hell away from us while my girlfriend took out her phone to call 911,” Fox wrote on her blog after the incident.
“The would-be muggers decided they had somewhere else to be and went off into the park."
The police showed up moments later as they had been patrolling the area nearby.
Police took them to see a group of teens on the Corner of Isham and Cooper streets that had been rounded up near Isham Park, but the victims said they could not identify them as the suspects.
“One of the kids had a black face mask in his pocket, and the cops asked us if he looked familiar, but by then I was keenly aware of us being a bunch of white adults about to pass judgment on a bunch of non-white kids, and we couldn't conclusively ID them,” she wrote.
Days after the incident Fox said she felt strongly about telling residents about the event and has actively urged neighbors to not shy away from the park.
“I can't imagine keeping quiet, “ Fox told DNAinfo. “People need to know what's happening so we can all stay safe, and so we can focus our efforts to make the whole community safer.”
Deputy Inspector Barry Buzzetti from the 34th Precinct said his officers allerted him to the "simulated weapon" incident immediately and that he has recently upped NYPD patrols in the Park Terrace section of Inwood.
“Although the effort has been largely successful, the precinct will always analyze crime trends and deploy its personnel to locations that will have the greatest effect,” Buzzetti said in an email.
Fox said she was pleased to see the police respond so quickly to the incident.
This is not the first time the family has been the victim of violent crime in Isham Park. In July 2008, Fox's husband was hit over the head with a baseball bat during an attempted mugging while walking through the park.
Isham Park has been the scene of many additional violent muggings and attacks over the past several years.
In early 2010, a spate of muggings in and around the park led to a town hall meeting organized by elected officials in order to address the increased violence.
The incidents motivated the 34th Precinct, then led by Deputy Inspector Andrew Capul, to add patrols in the park and pushed the Parks Department to activate a camera that snapped photos of people as they passed by. Another camera was added at the park this summer after a man was assaulted and mugged with a BB gun.
The Inwood Safety Patrol, a group of residents who volunteered to do pedestrian patrols of the neighborhood, also was formed in response. The effort was short lived, but a civilian patrol is now in the works with police, according to the 34th Precinct Community Council.
Earlier this year, a woman was mugged by a group of teenagers steps away from where Fox and her family were approached.
Police have responded to subsequent muggings and attacks with similar actions, but many in the area say the temporary swell of police is insufficient.
“We need cops here all the time, not just when the sh-t hits the fan,” Inwood resident Matthew O’Reilly, 36, said.