EAST VILLAGE — Police have arrested a homeless man suspected of raping a woman Friday night in Tompkins Square Park, officials said.
The victim, a 31-year-old woman, was sleeping on a park bench near Avenue B and East 8th Street about 9:45 p.m. when she awoke to find a man sexually assaulting her, according to police and the criminal complaint.
The victim tried to escape, but the attacker put his hands on her face and continued to assault her, the criminal complaint said.
The woman finally managed to get away and ran to Kamaran Deli, on Avenue A, with the man close behind. When accused rapist followed her inside the deli, workers called 911, the New York Post reported.
Ruben Canales, 27, who police said had no address, had been arrested as of Saturday afternoon, an NYPD spokesman said.
An events planner who works in the neighborhood throughout the week, Danielle Seidita, 28, said she was shocked to hear of the attack.
"That makes me absolutely terrified. Being sexually assaulted is literally my worst fear. You kind of think of this area as being PG or PG-13," she said. "It just makes me want to stay home. It's really really disturbing. Oh my God."
Alma Myrtle, 31, a hostess at restaurant on Avenue A and East 7th Street, said the area seemed to be seeing increasingly violent attacks.
"This area is, no joke, not safe. There's not much security," she said. "It scares me because I work late here. Sometimes I have to work until midnight."
"This whole block, this whole street needs cops. It needs cops like nobody's business," she added.
According to the Post, Canales had a criminal history, including marijuana sales, criminal mischief and criminal possession of stolen property.
With reporting by Irene Plagianos