Wednesday, September 4, 2013

GREENWAY Attack: Gang Targeting Bicyclists In Ft. Washington Park - "Criminal’s Paradise" - Victim

“The lighting is absolutely dismal and in this section you’re in pitch dark and really it’s a criminal’s paradise.”  - First Victim

"One was strangling me, one was holding my right arm,  the other one was hitting me with the bat or rod. My first thougth was I'm going to be killed. I didn't know they were mugging me, I was scared to death." - Second Victim

Several bicyclists have been violently attacked at night while commuting to New Jersey by a group of muggers in this area of the Manhattan GREENWAY in Ft. Washington Park. The lack of security in parks has once again been called into question.  (Photos: Geoffrey  Croft/NYC Park Advocates.) Click on images to enlarge.


By Geoffrey Croft

Police are looking for a group of men in their 20's who they say are responsible for several recent violent muggings of nightime bike riders commuting along a popular GREENWAY in Ft. Washington Park in Washington Heights.  

On August 24th, Keith Cho from N. J. was knocked off his bike by a rope muggers had strung across the bike path near  a stretch of  Greenway at 164th Street  at approximalty 11:15pm. 

The rope mark burned into Keith Cho's neck after the attack (CBS screenshot via gothamist)

After 40-year-old Cho was clotheslined,  three Hispanic assailants jumped out of the dark brush and attacked him,  punching him with brass knuckles. They stole his $1,500 Cannondale bike an iPhone and $500 in cash, police said.  

Photos show a rope mark burned into his neck. 

Five days later, on August 29th - a 35-year-old commuter from West New York, N.J.  was attacked while riding home from work. 

Daniil R. says he was knocked off his bike with a "bat or metal object without warning," and dragged under a tree, beaten and mugged by three men.

 Construction fence lines the area of the GREENWAY where the recent attacks occurred.  

A popular commuting route to/from the George Washington Bridge.

The incident occurred in the same area at around 9:30pm., an area lined with construction fencing. 

"They ambushed me. They grabbed me and tried to throw me to the ground," said the soft- spoken software developer who immigrated to American from Russia three years ago.  

"My first thought was I'm going to be killed. I didn't know they were mugging me, I was scared to death."

He said the nightmare attack lasted a few minutes. 

"I was absolutely helpless. One was strangling me, one was holding my right arm,  the other one was hitting me with the bat or rod.  I tried not to go on the ground."

His says they were using the strap from his helmet to strangle him. 

The muggers took his $ 1,200 Felt Zoom bike, iPhone, backpack, a Kindle, wallet and credit cards and work clothes.

He credits what he had on in helping to save his life and preventing further injuries. 

"I think my backpack and helmet was very useful."

Daniil says he is still recovering from the brutal assault and has difficulty breathing. He has pain in his chest,  shoulder and still has bruises,

He no longer takes the hour and ten minute commute by bike which he had been doing three times a week since July and instead relies on the bus.  Besides no longer having a bike his spouse does not want him.

"She's very worried about that," he said. 

He said better lighting was needed and along with increased policing along the popular bike path.

"It's very dark," he said.

Police believe the gang could be targeting riders with expensive bikes who cross the GW Bridge and use the bike path heading south into Manhattan.    

Police said they have stepped up patrols.

Union officials representing PEP officers say there are no officers assigned to cover the 158 acre Ft. Washington Park,  and only two officers dedicated to cover Riverside Park and all the away to the tip of Manhattan during the times of the incidents.  PEP has only one vehicle from 79th Street to the top of Manhattan. 

 They also point out there are no PEP officers overnight.   

"It's a joke. They are stretched out beyond thin. They are virtually nonexistent," said  Local 983 President Joe Puleo. 


The NYPD says thugs are beating and mugging bike riders on a popular Manhattan bike path.  

The victim of one attack recently came forward to tell fellow riders to be on guard, CBS 2’s Don Champion reported Tuesday.  

The bike path along the Hudson River is popular with New Jersey bikers who take the route and cross the George Washington Bridge to get home at night in the dark. 

 One victim told Champion he’s always on guard, but was not expecting what he got when he turned one corner. 

 “It’s a little surreal,” said Keith Cho, who had one eye swollen shut. “It was very traumatic. I’ve never been jumped before.” 

 A rope mark burned into his neck detailed the reason behind Cho’s newfound sense of insecurity. 

 “I’ve lived in this area for 35 years and for the first time in my life I feel unsafe to come to this city,” Cho said. 

 The attack happened on the night of Aug. 24, when he was mugged while riding his bike along the river on what’s called “the Greenway,” near 164th Street in Washington Heights.  It happened after he ran into a rope his attackers put up.  

“The rope I saw at the last second, but it was too late. I was already clotheslined,” Cho said.  

 Moments later, Cho said he was punched with brass knuckles and beaten. The attackers not only ran off with Cho’s bike, but also his cellphone and cash.  He’s not alone. 

On Thursday, another man was knocked off his bike with a bat – and then beaten and mugged in the same area. 

 “The lighting is absolutely dismal and in this section you’re in pitch dark and really it’s a criminal’s paradise,” Cho said. 

Investigators believe the attacks are connected. 

What’s even more troubling is that people Champion caught up with say they rarely see police in the area. 

 “If something happens, no one can see you. You could be there for maybe a couple of days in the brush and no one would find you,” Susan Hurse said. 

“It’s scary to think that you can’t come out and ride your bike and have fun without worrying about being mugged,” Susan McMullen added. 

 Nearly two weeks after his attack, with his wounds still healing, Cho vowed to never bike on that path again at night. 

 “They could’ve just taken my bike and just went off. I was in no condition to chase them or go after them. I was totally discombobulated,” he said. 

 The NYPD said it has stepped up patrols in the area.

 Investigators said they think the attackers could be targeting people with high-end bikes. 

 Presently, officers only have a vague description of the men, who are described as being in their 20s.

Read/View More:

WCBS - September 3, 2013 - By Don Champion

No comments:

Post a Comment