GRAMERCY — A quick-thinking mom helped cops catch a convicted rapist who allegedly groped the woman's 10-year-old daughter on a Gramercy sidewalk, snapping his photo and racing to the nearest police precinct, cops said.
The incident occurred on May 14 about 4 p.m., when the woman was walking with her son and 10-year-old daughter near East 21st Street and Third Avenue — just half a block from the 13th Precinct station house, Deputy Inspector Ted Berntsen told residents at a recent meeting.
When the mother turned to speak to her son, a 62-year-old man approached the little girl and fondled her, said Berntsen, the precinct’s commanding officer.
The incident took place just a few blocks from a Dunkin' Donuts near Peter Cooper Village where a man allegedly fondled an 11-year-old girl.
“The mother thankfully reacted quickly and took a picture ... and she ran into our precinct,” Berntsen said.
Two detectives from the precinct, Jacob Habib and Jessie Ankele, took down the woman's account of the incident, looked at the photo she’d snapped and ran out of the station house in search of the man, Berntsen said.
A few minutes later, the detectives spotted someone who resembled the photograph on Third Avenue and East 28th Street. The mother and daughter identified the man, and the detectives placed him under arrest, Berntsen said.
The suspect had several prior arrests — three for burglary, two for assault and a rape in 1984, Berntsen said.
Police declined to provide the man’s name.
Both detectives who were involved in the search and apprehension were honored for their efforts during the meeting on Tuesday.
“They did old-fashioned police work on this one,” Berntsen said.