A homeless man accused of raping a woman in Central Park was arrested early Saturday morning after police say he attempted to sell the victim’s stolen cell phone at a local convenience store.
Police took Paulie Velez, 25, into custody in Lower Manhattan just before 1am after receiving a tip from the Crimestoppers hotline.
Authorities believe he is responsible for the Thursday morning sexual assault of a 27-year-old jogger.
The suspect – who was caught on surveillance video entering the N and R subway station after the attack – allegedly came up behind the woman near a pond at the southern end of the park, strangled her until she was unconscious and raped her.
He was later caught on camera attempting to sell the victim’s cell phone at a CBD store in Times Square.
‘Yesterday, after the problem he did, he come to the store, he want to sell the phone. Probably the phone – he take it from the girl after he rape her,’ the store clerk told ABC 7, noting that he refused to buy the suspected stolen property.
Velez is expected to be arraigned in Manhattan criminal court on Saturday. He faces charges of rape, robbery, strangulation, assault, sex abuse and criminal possession of stolen property.
Paulie Velez, 25 – a homeless man accused of raping a woman in Central Park – was arrested in Lower Manhattan just before 1am Saturday morning
Police say Velez (pictured on left entering a subway station near Central Park) allegedly came up behind a woman jogging near Swan Lake, strangled her until she was unconscious and raped her. He was later caught on surveillance video (right) attempting to sell the victim’s cell phone at a CBD store in Times Square
Police said the jogger was running on a foot-path near Swan Lake at 7:20am Thursday when a man dressed in all black, possibly in his 20s, attacked and sexually assaulted her.
She was reportedly knocked to the ground, choked until she passed out and raped.
The victim alerted police after regaining consciousness and was taken to a nearby hospital for treatment. Police said there would be increased patrols in Central Park.
Security footage released by the New York Police Department Friday shows the suspect, believed to be Velez, wearing black pants, shirt, mask and a baseball cap using an emergency exit to enter a train station, thereby avoiding the fare.
More images released on Friday show the man standing in a bodega with his hands in his pockets.
NYPD released this composite of the man they’re seeking in relation to the attack in Central Park on Friday. The suspect is believed to be Velez
Security footage showed the suspect wearing black pants, shirt, mask and a baseball cap in a bodega
New York Police officers responded to a sexual assault that took place in Central Park on November 11, a day after a 13-year-old girl was raped in the Bronx
The jogger was running down Swan Lake at 7:20 am when a man dressed in all black attacked
The attack comes as New York City continues to experience a surge in crime. So far this year, the city has seen 1,216 rapes, about 2.5 per cent more than had been recorded at the same point of 2020.
The Central Park attack took place only 25 minutes before a registered sex offender attempted to rape a woman on Randall’s Island and 45 minutes before another victim was sexually-assaulted in the Manhattan park.
Howard Shaw, 38, was charged over the Randall’s Island assault – which took place two days after he was released from state prison where he was serving a sentence for a 2005 robbery and a rape.
The registered sex offender was jailed in Green Haven Correction Facility in 2005 for raping a 25-year-old woman in Queens while she was taking out the trash.
He approached the victim by asking her for the time before putting his hand around her waist and the other over her mouth as he dragged her toward a stairwell.
Police say three sexual-related attacks took place in NYC on Thursday morning
Howard Shaw, 38, (pictured) was charged over the assault – which took place two days after he was released from state prison where he was serving a sentence for a 2005 robbery and a rape
There, Shaw choked, punched and then raped her, police said following his arrest on Thursday.
Police said in a briefing on Thursday that Shaw was in custody and still being questioned.
About 45 minutes after the first assault, another woman was walking on a foot path near 103rd street and FDR Drive when she was attacked.
A suspect was arrested over the assault, although police have yet to identify him, or say whether the incidents are connected.
The assaults also came hours after a 13 year-old girl was raped in the Bronx’s Crotona Park as she was heading home from school.
The Bronx incident occurred on Wednesday, at 2:35pm, when an unknown man approached the 13-year-old girl and threw her to the ground.
After the assault, he stole her cell phone and ran off. The teen was taken to a nearby hospital.
Police have released security footage of the alleged perpetrator who was wearing a grey hoody, jeans, black trainers, and carrying a jacket over his left shoulder.
Video shows the suspect sitting on the steps outside a fast-food shop.
Police are still on the lookout for the man who raped a teen in Crotona Park. They released this image and CCTV footage of their suspect
Meanwhile, New York City also continues to see a surge in other types of violent crime.
Felony assaults went up from 17,910 last year, to 19,392 this year, and robbery has gone up from 11,104 to 11,340.
While murders dropped from 397 to 407 and shootings fell from 1,632 to 1,610, overall crime is still up 1.73 per cent from last year.
Investigations into the four attacks are ongoing.
Overall crime in New York City continues to steadily grow