ELMHURST — A man posing as a cabdriver drove a woman and her children from Inwood to a Queens homeless shelter then tried to sexually assault the mother as her terrified children looked on, police said.
The 26-year-old victim and her kids, aged 1, 3, and 5, were picked up by the suspect shortly before 3 a.m. Sunday on 207th Street in Manhattan and asked to be taken to Queens, according to police.
The suspect drove them to 79-00 Queens Blvd., the location of the former Pan Am Hotel, which reopened as a homeless shelter in June, where he tried to sexually assault the woman with the three children in the car, according to the NYPD.
As the mother began to try to get out of the car, the suspect elbowed the 5-year-old child in the head and then forced the 3-year-old out of the vehicle before fleeing the scene, police said.
The children were taken to Elmhurst Hospital for minor injuries.
A witness who said he was at the shelter Sunday morning but declined to give his name said the woman was "distraught" after the incident, and that one of the young children was "roughed up."
The suspect is described as in his 40s, with manicured eyebrows and an earring in his right ear, according to police. He was seen wearing a dark blue sweat suit with white stripes.
Anyone with information is asked to call Crime stoppers at 1-800-577-TIPS (8477). The public can also submit their tips by logging onto the Crime stoppers website at WWW.NYPDCRIMESTOPPERS.COM or by texting their tips to 274637 (CRIMES) then enter TIP577.