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Park Slope Dad Helped Police Catch Suspected Groper

By Leslie Albrecht | November 21, 2013 3:50pm
 Lawrence Abdullah, 40, chased down groping suspect Jesse Dailey.
Park Slope Dad Helped Police Catch Suspected Groper
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PARK SLOPE — Actor Patrick Stewart is his neighbor, but this week Park Slope dad Lawrence Abdullah is the real celebrity on his block.

The 40-year-old was instrumental in helping police catch Jesse Dailey, the man suspected of sex attacks on at least four Park Slope girls. Dailey was arrested at his 13th Street home Wednesday morning, and it was Abdullah's quick thinking that led officers to his door, police said.

Abdullah had no idea who Dailey was when he spotted him Monday afternoon near Fifth Avenue and Ninth Street. A woman was running after the 34-year-old suspect, shouting at bystanders to "Get that man!"

"It was kind of weird, because you don't really see that around here," recalled Abdullah, who lives across Seventh Street from the man who played Captain Picard on "Star Trek."

What Abdullah didn't know at the time was that the woman was an undercover detective who had tried to question Dailey about the gropings. Police said Dailey shoved the detective to the ground and dislocated her shoulder, then ran away.

Abdullah and a friend assumed Dailey had just stolen the woman's bag, so they started chasing him. The groping suspect disappeared around a corner, but they enlisted the help of a cyclist, who sped ahead and tracked him down.

When Abdullah caught up with Dailey several blocks later, he started questioning Dailey, who said he ran away from the woman because she had asked for his ID.

That story didn't seem right to the Park Slope dad.

"I was like, you didn’t run six blocks because someone wanted your ID — there's more to it than that," Abdullah said.

He insisted that Dailey show him his ID, and he snapped a photo of it. Abdullah waited to see if police would show up, but no officers came. He went back to the spot where he had first seen the woman chasing Dailey, but didn't see any investigators there either.

The next morning, Dailey's sketch and photo were all over the news, as police asked for the public's help in tracking down the groping suspect. Abdullah recognized him instantly, and went to the 78th Precinct, where he showed detectives the photo of Dailey's ID.

Dailey was arrested Wednesday morning, and Abdullah got a thank you phone call from a police official later that day. He's been invited to City Hall on Friday to meet Police Commissioner Raymond Kelly.

Abdullah, whose daughter Marium turns 1 next week, said he's glad to have played a role in catching the suspect, especially because he knew other Park Slope parents were rattled by the news that a groper had been targeting young girls.

"This neighborhood is all kids — to have stuff like that happen, it's scary," Abdullah said. "I'm definitely glad I did it."

Abdullah, who runs a men's streetwear line called Inshallah Clothing, said he felt lucky to have been in the right place at the right time, even though his wife later worried that Dailey could have been carrying a gun.

Inshallah means "god willing" in Arabic, and the name seemed apt this week.

"I'm glad God put me there when he did," Abdullah said. "You have to be selfless sometimes, not selfish."