BROWNSVILLE — Four teenagers were arrested Sunday in the gunpoint gang rape of a girl in a Brooklyn playground last week, police said. Another man believed to be involved is still at large.
The group confronted the 18-year-old and her father near the handball courts in Osborn Playground, at Lott Avenue and Osborn Avenue, about 9:10 p.m. on Jan. 7 and pointed a gun at the father, telling him to leave the area, NYPD officials said.
The father left the scene to get help while the group raped her, police said.
He first tried to use the phone in Zaida Deli and Grocery, on Watkins Avenue near Hegeman Avenue, but was turned away, workers there said.
"He said, 'Can I borrow the phone?' He never explained why he needed it. He was drunk. He had on a T-shirt, white and red, and shorts. I told him, I don't have a phone," said clerk Felix Santos, 50.
"He looked nervous and drunk. If he would've said he was in trouble, I would've gone out with him to help," Santos said.
The father moved on to nearby Gaston Deli, where another clerk rebuffed him because they thought he was intoxicated, a clerk said.
"He asked to use the phone. I told him, 'No' because he was drunk. It was easy to tell," said a 16-year-old clerk who gave his name only as Sammy.
"He just said, 'Give me the phone.' I feel so bad. If I knew, I would've given it to him. I'd never seen him before," Sammy said.
The father eventually alerted a police officer in a nearby squad car who then raced with him back to the scene, only to find the boys had already fled, NYPD officials said.
Police summoned both a supervisor and an ambulance and took the young woman to Kings County Hospital, where she was treated and released, police said.
“She’s OK,” the victim’s mother told the Daily News. “I want them to get caught and go to jail for a long time. I feel bad, horrible.”
Investigators found video of the suspects, recorded before the attack, in a nearby bodega about 2 p.m. Saturday and released it to the media about six hours later, officials said.
Video shows the group in hoodies and winter coats streaming into the bodega. One boy wore a red backpack.
Two of the suspects, whose ages range from 14 to 17, turned themselves in to police at the 73rd Precinct stationhouse Sunday night, police said. It's unclear how the other two were caught.
Police had not yet formally charged the teens as of Monday morning, but the Brooklyn District Attorney vowed to prosecute them.
"We have been working closely with the NYPD to bring the violent sexual predators who committed this horrific gang rape to justice and will not stop until every one of them is held accountable," said Brooklyn D.A. Ken Thompson.
A description of the remaining suspect still has not been released, even after elected officials criticized police for not alerting the public about the case quickly enough.
Brooklyn Borough President Eric Adams sharply criticized the NYPD, saying he didn't believe police notified the public quickly enough about the attack.
"I am calling on the NYPD to conduct a full investigation, not only to identify all those responsible for this horrific attack, but also to determine if everything possible was done to protect the victim and the public," said Adams, who is also a former NYPD officer.
In a Sunday press conference, he said police shouldn't have waited as long as they did to notify the media and argued that more attention would have been paid to the attack if it had occurred on the Upper East Side, reports said.
Police said they began notifying local leaders in the area on Friday.
The Parks Department is also working with the Department of Transportation to inspect and evaluate the lighting in the park at the time of the attack. DOT officials did not immediately return requests for comment.
"I am disgusted and deeply saddened by the horrific attack that took place in Brownsville Thursday evening," Mayor Bill de Blasio said.
"This administration has zero tolerance for sexual attacks, and we will work to ensure a crime of this nature never happens again."
Anyone with information should contact Crime Stoppers at (800) 577-TIPS (8477).